Israel Stories

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Art of Negotiation

This isn’t an attack on the Government, may our leaders all live long and prosperous lives in the service of their country and not the service of themselves.

The art of negotiation, or the art of getting what you want, is a skill that has been perfected over many years by business gurus, but has yet to take into account what I call the ‘princess factor’.

The ‘princess factor’ also called by some ‘my little prince factor’, is a skillful and uncompromising almost savage negotiation technique between two hardened parties, you on the one side and your kids on the other.

The G8 in its trade negotiations uses it all the time. One side has a little tantrum and the other side gives in. The government makes endless use of this tactic, releasing hundreds of Palestinian prisoners from its very effective prison system, by giving in to every demand even when there is only the slightest hint or threat of a tantrum.

In fact, the government has so perfected the ‘princess factor’ that it seems to give in even when it is not negotiating; I think it is called “good will”.

We have to make concessions, sometimes very painful, but surely only if we can have something in return, you know small things like recognition, the right to survive, the right not to be murdered, trivial stuff.

“Oh”, they cry, “you wouldn’t understand what goes on behind the scenes the tough negotiation, the diplomacy and the painful concessions”.

To be fair, when I feel there is the slightest discontent brewing in our happy little home I immediately start the pacification process offering bribes and promises just to diffuse a potentially explosive situation.

Take the swimming pool incident or “debacle” as history will recall it. The word swimming pool was used in a completely different context, but they got it into their pretty little heads that I had promised to take them. I tried to reason, negotiate and bribe but to no avail. Truth is, I was tired and couldn’t be bothered but that didn’t seem to bother them. Then the ‘princess card’ was played. One spontaneously exploded into tantrum-land, one ran to her room and slammed the door and one grabbed hold of my leg crying and wouldn’t let go.

A three pronged attack that would make even Neptune’s trident seem impotent, using every one of the three princess factor negotiation techniques; tantrum, cold silent treatment and puppy dog eyes.

Needless to say we swam that afternoon.

I couldn’t help thinking, as the kids clung and pulled at me in the swimming pool, what would the government have done?

Well, release some prisoners for a start.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Apocalypse Appreciation Society

‘And Mohammed travelled there unto Babylon and fought the Dragon. After the dragon he fought the fiery snake and so did the apocalypse begin and end on that day’.

Now, I am not an expert on the Koran and, to tell the truth, I have never owned nor opened a copy but, after a focused internet search via Wikipedia, I can assure you that the verse above does not appear anywhere. So the passage that I saw stuck to a lamppost is probably fake. More likely the words are lyrics to some thrash metal group.

Everyone has a version of the “end of days” and all religions at least agree on one thing -the bad guys will be vanquished and we will all live in peace as long as we are all Christian or Muslim or just accept and pray to one Gd. A bit like a haredi version of Star Wars.

The end of the world was supposed to have happened at many significant points in human history. Of course the years 1000 and 2000 were prime candidates. There is a website that lists 200 possible dates including April 17th 2008. Can’t quite remember what happened on April 17th but it certainly wasn’t the end of the world. I think we were Pesach cleaning which, for many, feels like the end of the world so there is some truth there.

In my house the end of the world is when I forget to empty the washing machine, when one of the kids’ Barbie dolls has been decapitated by their youngest sister and when I forget to tell my wife that her parents phoned.

I have subsequently learned that the word apocalypse means lifting the veil or revelation, hence the book of Revelations. I thought maybe lifting the veil had some vague reference to Muslim women in France, but then I could be wrong.

In Israel apocalypse could mean the final revelation of how the mortgage system works, i.e. revealing the greatest of all unfathomable secrets, knowing exactly why a bank cannot access previous information, why everything must be signed everywhere and why you actually need to pay to have a mortgage in the first place.

Apocalypse could explain the workings of the political system, the bus system, local government and why the science museum doesn’t open on a Sunday.

Apocalypse is the lifting of the veil so, when it comes, I expect to understand everything like why our Government , bless it, chooses the age old trick of deceiving our enemies into thinking we are weak and haven’t got a clue, why we don’t respond to bad PR and why we make countless excuses instead of getting the job done.

I am quite looking forward to the apocalypse, that forthcoming war with Gog and Magog (or Mango according to the spell check, takes on a different slant really, the war between Gog and Mango) then maybe we would get everything straight and start beating our swords into ploughshares.

I think I’ll book a front row seat, put a tent up, get the bar-b-q fired up, buy some garanim, slip my Crocs off , sing some old Yishuv songs, and enjoy watching the lion lie down with the lamb……………. after we’ve whipped his ass.