By Dr. Alon Ben-Meir
Cartoon by Sam Ben-Meir
The following conversation between Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Bibi) and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) is fictitious.
The setting: Bibi and Abu Mazen happen to come to East Jerusalem and stumble into each other at the Colony Hotel. They approached to say hello and felt that a brief private meeting would do no harm. A few minutes later, they adjourned to a secure room in the hotel.
Abu Mazen: So how are you Bibi? I guess it is ok to call you Bibi!
Bibi: Of course, after all we are friends; how are you and how are your kids?
Abu Mazen: My kids? My kids are fine but let’s not stretch it, since when did we become friends?
Bibi: Well you know Abu Mazen, we live side by—
Abu Mazen: Spare me all this hullabaloo. Neighbors, ha! We have a big problem with you my friend.
Bibi: What are you talking about, what problems?
Abu Mazen: What problems?? You must be... only you... damn, I don’t know why we’re talking!
Bibi: There is nothing wrong in talking, I am sure you agree that a little chat won’t hurt.
Abu Mazen: Let’s talk then; get out of my land, it’s enough! Like it or not, we’ll get rid of the occupation.
Bibi: Occupation? How can we occupy our own land?
Abu Maze: You are hilarious, Mr. Prime Minister. You deny everything, the truth, reality... forget it.
Bibi: I know you’re frustrated, I am frustrated too.
Abu Mazen: You are frustrated because as much as you want, you can’t take away our land.
Bibi: You know we’ve been here – here – on this land for more than 3,000 years…
Abu Mazen: Oh, I see, 3,000 years. And our 1,500 years are not enough?
Bibi: Well, you know, 3,000 years is twice as long. Anyway, God bequeathed this land to us.
Abu Mazen: Tell me, when was the last time you spoke to God?
Bibi: Goodness gracious, I pray every day. I feel it in my bones; God wants us to keep all of our land.
Abu Mazen: Boy, I did not know that I’m speaking to a new prophet, Prophet Netanyahu.
Bibi: I am not a prophet—well, in a way I am, I just follow God’s will; it’s all written in the Bible.
Abu Mazen: Bible, shmible! What do I care, this is our land, we’ve been living here…
Bibi: I know, I know, you keep saying the same thing, but God is testing our resolve, that is why…
Abu Mazen: Is that why you keep building settlements and stealing our land, all in the name of Allah?
Bibi: Look, you want a solution? Ok, all you need to do is recognize Israel as a Jewish state and…
Abu Mazen: You’re something else. I’m sure you’re citing the talking points that Sara gave you.
Bibi: You mean Sara, our forefather Abraham’s wife?
Abu Mazen: Don’t be ridiculous, how many Saras do you have in your life?
Bibi: Keep our wives out of this.
Abu Mazen: You mean your wife!
Bibi: My Sara stands for peace as long as we hold onto all the land.
Abu Mazen: How generous of her; now we depend on your housewife to get back our land…
Bibi: We don’t need your insults, I am perfectly capable of making my own decisions.
Abu Mazen: Oh yeah? How about that crazy guy, what the heck is his name?
Bibi: You mean Minister Naftali Bennett?
Abu Mazen: Ah, I am glad you know all the lunatics sitting in your government.
Bibi: Listen, we are a democracy, everyone has the right to believe and say anything they want.
Abu Mazen: Of course, especially if they want to annex 60% of Palestine.
Bibi: You mean Judea and Samaria! Anyway, we still haven’t annexed it yet.
Abu Mazen: Not yet, ha! And you want me to believe that you’re for a two-state solution; what baloney!
Bibi: Of course I am.
Abu Mazen: Forgive me Bibi, you are such a hypocrite, I don’t trust you period.
Bibi: I feel offended, I can’t help but….
Abu Mazen: Remember what you said in the last election, ‘no Palestinian state under my watch’?
Bibi: You don’t understand, it’s all politics. To tell you the truth, I don’t trust you either.
Abu Mazen: Get on with it! No trust, no security, no negotiating partner, what else?
Bibi: A lot. Your comrades keep attacking us. Do you ever tell your stooge Erekat to shut up?
Abu Mazen: Why should I tell him to shut up? He is doing a good job. We’re a democracy too, you know.
Bibi: Democracy? He is poisoning our people against you with his stupid verbal attacks.
Abu Mazen: Look who is talking, you treat our people as if they were animals, what do you expect?
Bibi: We expect some civility.
Abu Mazen: Don’t make me laugh—civility goes very well with occupation, how charming.
Bibi: You keep talking about…
Abu Mazen: You keep butting in. We suffer from your abuse, and you talk about civility, my foot.
Bibi: You brought all this on yourself. Terrorism, kidnapping, stabbings, and on top of that…
Abu Mazen: And the poor settlers are all angels. Do you want me to feel sorry for them?
Bibi: We are a country of law and order; every settler who commits a crime faces justice.
Abu Mazen: With Justice Minister Shaked, who wants to kill all Palestinians? Justice, what a joke!
Bibi: Don’t you understand, Shaked does nothing without my approval.
Abu Mazen: Mr. Prime Minister, you appointed too many sick ministers in your cabinet, face it.
Bibi: It’s only talk, they mean no harm unlike your buddies in Hamas.
Abu Mazen: Hamas is your problem. You created Hamas, and now you want to make a deal with them.
Bibi: What deal? We haven’t made any deal with Hamas.
Abu Mazen: You are so phony, you want a long-term truce with Hamas to keep Gaza quiet and…
Bibi: Wait a minute!
Abu Mazen: Like I said, calm in Gaza and occupation of our land, what a cozy arrangement!
Bibi: You are mistaken my friend. A truce with Hamas, if it happens, will be good for you too.
Abu Mazen: Any deal behind my back is not good for my people.
Bibi: But isn’t Hamas a part of your “people”?
Abu Mazen: Here we go again. A big difference, I represent all Palestinians.
Bibi: I thought you said Hamas is my problem? It’s good to know how unified all of you guys are.
Abu Mazen: You enjoy being so condescending; I don’t know why I am wasting my time.
Bibi: Mahmoud, we don’t need to talk now, but sooner or later you will need me to make a deal.
Abu Mazen: No, I don’t need you. I am going to the UNSC and ICC, they will deal with you.
Bibi: I don’t give a hoot about the UNSC, ICC, or BBC, in the end you need us to make any deal.
Abu Mazen: Say Mr. Arrogant, how much longer do you think you can keep us quiet?
Bibi: Well you know, so far so good. We’ll manage, like we always have.
Abu Mazen: We are here to stay, and we’ll you give hell until we establish our state of Palestine.
Bibi: Listen, do as you please. We too are here to stay, and we are in control.
Abu Mazen: You think you are in control? Like I said, mister, get out of our land.
Bibi: Where do you think we’re going to go?
Abu Mazen: I really don’t care, get out and honor the rights of our millions of refugees and…
Bibi: Anything else? Do you want all of Jerusalem as well?
Abu Mazen: No, just East Jerusalem… East Jerusalem is our Capital.
Bibi: Well, this is very generous of you, are you sure you don’t want Tel Aviv too?
Abu Mazen: We don’t want Tel Aviv and we don’t want Haifa, we want our land.
Bibi: You keep saying our land, our land, what about us?
Abu Mazen: You know Bibi, my people hate you. Your people... no, the Israelis will hate you too.
Bibi: Are you kidding? My people love me, everybody thinks I am their savior.
Abu Mazen: Do you hear that? He is the Israelites’ savior! Wow, a new Moses is in our midst.
Bibi: You can laugh all you want, but I am…
Abu Mazen: I am not laughing, I only pray that Allah saves the Israelis from you.
Bibi: Don’t worry, they are in good hands as long as I steer the ship.
Abu Mazen: My dear man, you are the worst captain…
Bibi: Oh yeah? Look how far we have traveled, and look where you are.
Abu Mazen: All I can tell you is if you continue to navigate this way, you will collide with my ship.
Bibi: So what? My ship is larger and more powerful than yours, you should steer away from it.
Abu Mazen: Another shipwreck, so what. We have little left to lose.
Bibi: Listen, we don’t want that and you don’t want that either.
Abu Mazen: Wrong, you don’t want that but we…
Bibi: And why is that?
Abu Mazen: Because you want it both ways, you want calm and you want occupation.
Bibi: You know Abu Mazen, you can be funny sometimes.
Abu Mazen: There is nothing funny about this. This whole discussion with you is useless.
Bibi: Sorry you feel this way.
Abu Mazen: I am sorry too, I better get the hell out of here. See you in court, Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu.
Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is a professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU. He teaches courses on international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies.
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