Peace is a kind of start-up. And for a start-up to work, it has to have strong strategic partners.When I was a kid, I wanted peace. Not world peace, the kind beauty queens always ask for, but something local, small, modest, so my father wouldn’t have to go to the reserves anymore and my brother and sister and I wouldn’t spend hours stuck in the bomb shelter. Later on, I wanted a girlfriend and good grades, and after that I wanted a profession – not even a profession, just something that would pay the rent. Then I wanted to travel, and at some point I wanted a car, but I dropped that. Later on, I wanted a child, and now I want peace again. I made one hell of a circle to get back to wanting what I wanted when I was 5.
My mother says it’s probably too late now. She says I should have stuck with wanting peace, that I should have worked at it when I was a kid. But I neglected it, and now it’s impossible. There are things, my mother says, like dancing ballet or playing the violin that, after a certain age, you can’t do seriously anymore. Plus, times have changed. “When you were a kid,” she said, “it was a lot easier to make peace. Everybody was more naive. That doesn’t mean people were better. They were bastards then too. But naive bastards.” Not anymore.
I went to the beach last week with my best friend, Uzi, and the baby. When Uzi and I were in kindergarten, what he wanted more than anything was to be a sled driver at the North Pole. But that didn’t work out, and today he’s the deputy chief of a giant high-tech company. And even though his monthly salary is bigger than a sled driver’s, and his tush is warmer, a slight sense of having missed out on something remains.
In business terms, he explained to me, peace is a kind of start-up. And for a start-up to work, it has to have strong strategic partners. In the case of the Middle East, it has to be the Arabs and us. Half and half. In terms of what that peace will yield, it’s not a bad deal, Uzi said. Not for the arms manufacturers, sure, but for almost everybody else.
Except that yield isn’t everything in business. To get yourself involved in a start-up, you have to believe that the whole thing will really take off. Otherwise, you won’t put a penny into it. And in order to believe that it will really take off, you have to be sure that you can trust your partner.
“Me, for example,” he said, “if I had to do something complex and hard like making peace, I’d pick myself a better strategic partner than the Palestinians. Someone more stable who’s already proved himself in the field. The Swedes, maybe, or the Swiss.”
“It’s not as if we’ve had much success in the field of peace either,” I said.
“True,” Uzi admitted, “which is just one more reason why I think the business will never get off the ground.”
At the beach, Uzi and I ate ice pops and read the papers. I read the political pages, and Uzi read the financial section and the horoscopes. On the blanket next to us, the baby chewed on the sports section. Every few minutes, a military combat helicopter flew overhead. Uzi and I tried to ignore the annoying noise. But the baby and the family of American tourists sitting next to us found it all very exciting.
It said in the paper that when Sheik Hassan Nasrallah was a kid, he wanted to be an Islamic priest, but somehow it didn’t work out and he found himself establishing Hezbollah instead. I guess he didn’t exactly get what he wanted either. According to the horoscopes, Mercury was retreating and that’s why the whole world was suffering now, big time, but within a week or two, it would change direction and everything would work out. “Now’s the time to invest in real estate in Haifa,” Uzi said, partly to me, partly to himself. “As soon as this war ends, the market there will go sky high.”
It was dark by the time the baby and I got home, and my wife was already asleep. On the news, I heard that more than 700 of them had been killed so far and only 100 of us. We had more than 1,000 wounded, but they had a lot more. “If war were a basketball game,” the TV military analyst declared, “today you could definitely say we won. We didn’t just win – we spanked ’em!” Then they showed the victims of the last bombing being taken out of the ruins.
On the huge plasma screen in our living room, the wounds on the corpses looked enormous. Bigger than the baby’s head. When my wife was a kid, what she wanted more than anything was a really big TV. Which just goes to show, some wishes do come true.