ISRAEL: Larry David's Palestinian chicken peace plan
So the peace process is in a sorry state, pushing the Palestinians to seek statehood recognition from the United Nations and Israel scurrying around the world to prevent the move or at least detract from its significance.
Meanwhile, efforts to renew negotiations are still on, and both sides say they are willing, so long as they agree on a few ground rules. The latest efforts made by the Mideast Quartet -- representing Russia, the United States, European Union and United Nations -- concentrated on reaching a formula that would incorporate the principles listed by President Obama in his Middle East speech in May.
Their attempt to jump-start the talks failed, according to media reports, due to disagreement over Israel's demand that Palestinians recognize it as a Jewish state. This report quoted a Western diplomat, who said the goal was to give each side something it held important. "The Palestinians were supposed to get 1967 borders with land swaps and the Israelis wanted to receive in return the recognition of Israel as the Jewish homeland," but there was no agreement on the matter, the diplomat said.
The dread digits 1-9-6-7 were in the eye of the storm in the days between the policy speeches delivered by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Obama in the U.S. in May. Israel objects to this baseline for security reasons, arguing it is indefensible. However, "1967 borders with land swaps" also- maybe mostly-means settlements, as in which ones Israel removes and how much land it swaps in return for those it seeks to annex. And Israel's demand for recognition as the Jewish homeland has its logic in obviating the Palestinian demand of the Right of Return, while some see this relatively new demand as another monkey wrench in the peace process machinery.
But where some see obstacles, others see opportunity.
The latest episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" has Larry David in the world's best chicken place, a Palestinian restaurant named Al-Abbas, coincidentally or not calling to mind the name of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Marveling over the best chicken they've ever eaten, David and his friend have a brainstorm. "You know what? They should send this chicken over to Israel. Yeah, for the peace process. They'd take down all those settlements in the morning," they say.
Surveying the "Freedom for Palestine" posters and figuring no Jew had or ever would set foot there, the two figure it's the perfect place for Jewish people to cheat on their spouses, as they'd never be caught in the Palestinian restaurant. Eyeing a Palestinian woman, a frequent patron, David puts the recognition-of-Israel conundrum plaguing the peace process to "good" argument. "You're always attracted to someone who doesn't want you, right? Well, here you have someone who not only doesn't want you but doesn't even acknowledge your right to exist.... That's a turn-on," he says.
(OK, so most Palestinians do recognize Israel's right to exist; it's the Jewish homeland bit they have issue with. But it's still funny.)
The episode gets better -- or worse -- depending on one's politics and sense of humor.
-- Batsheva Sobelman in Jerusalem.
Video: "'Curb Your Enthusiasm' -- Palestinian Chicken Place" Season 8, Episode 3. Via YouTube.