How to Make Peace in the Middle East in Six Months or Less: Without Leaving Your Apartment (Hardcover)
Gregory Levey’s modest goal is to solve the Middle East conflict—all by himself. After returning to North America following a stint in his midtwenties writing speeches for the Israeli government—first at the United Nations and then for the prime minister in Jerusalem—he thinks he is leaving the madness of the Middle East conflict behind. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Levey soon discovers that everyone on this side of the Atlantic seems to think that they have the solution to the intractable conflict—and they all feel the need to tell him about it. Fatigued by the endless debate, the constant hostility, and the cacophony of shrill voices, he decides that the only way he is going to escape it all is if he solves the conflict himself, once and for all.
So Levey sets out on a hilarious, quixotic, and surprisingly illuminating quest to broker a peace deal where a long line of world leaders have failed.
Interacting with White House officials, DC lobbyists, congressmen, advisors to presidential candidates, high-profile journalists, secretive fundraisers, former Israeli spies now living in North America, and hundreds and hundreds of Jewish grandmothers, Levey tries to understand why the Middle East situation refuses to be resolved, and why so many people who live a world away are so obsessed with it.
He combs through theories ranging from the eminently reasonable to the completely insane, engages in virtual peacemaking simulations, investigates an “online suicide bombing,” spends time with a former advisor to Yasser Arafat, undergoes training with a half-baked Jewish paramilitary group, goes undercover as an Evangelical Christian, and somehow ends up at a real-life castle owned by an eccentric, cape-wearing crusader for peace.
In How to Make Peace in the Middle East in Six Months or Less Without Leaving Your Apartment, Levey brings his trademark brand of street-smart levity to a situation that many see as hopeless— and thereby reveals the very human and sometimes very silly side of a brutal, decades-old geopolitical conflict. Along the way, he meets a cast of characters that would be outright funny if the situation weren’t so dire. The result is a fast-paced, humorous, and insightful romp through U.S. policymaking in the Middle East.
“[An] affable memoir in which [Levey] methodically examines a multiplicity of attitudes, to keen effect. ‘Don’t be a Fundamentalist,’ he counsels in his Author’s Note. But he discovers that such advice is easier given than put into actual practice.”
—The Christian Science Monitor
"Levey has written a fun, thought provoking read. In doing it himself, this amateur peacemaker went beyond the headlines to show us some of the pitfalls - and some fresh perspectives - that must be understood to make peace in a region that sorely needs it." --Jewish Chronicle
"Gregory Levey may or may not be able to save the world. But I do know this: He writes a very entertaining and informative book. The section on Second Life alone is worth the price of admission."
—A.J. Jacobs, author of My Life as an Experiment
"Gregory Levey doesn't solve the problems of the Middle East, but he does make them funny, which is almost as hard. A great read."
—Peter Beinart, author of The Icarus Syndrome
"At last some good news out of the Middle East: Decades of brutal, intractable conflict have finally given Gregory Levey material for an outrageously entertaining book."
—Daniel Radosh, author of Rapture Ready! Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture
"Greg Levey has made a comic masterpiece out of the world's most intractable conflict—yet hidden among the sidesplitting laugh lines are insights about the Middle East that are no laughing matter. I've read dense scholarship on Israeli-Palestinian affairs that does not capture the irony or the humanity of the situation half as well as this hilarious book."
—Joseph Braude, author of The New Iraq
"Gregory Levey is hilarious—that's not even a debatable point. But he's something else too: On a subject where even a whisper of sanity seems brave, Gregory Levey is nothing short of heroic."
—Rachel Shukert, author of Everything Is Going To Be Great
“If Mohandas Ghandi and Woody Allen had a love child, and the child were Canadian and a Jew, that child would be Greg Levey. In this eye-opening and riotously funny book, Levey boldly goes where many men have gone before as he sets out to solve the Middle East conflict. But this time, the fruitless quest for peace will leave you shaking your head in wonder at the human dramedy behind this long-running geopolitical standoff.”
—Joel Chasnoff, author of The 188th Crybaby Brigade
“Levey tackles an immense and serious subject with such charming wit and casual intelligence that one forgets its magnitude. His is an impossible mission—to make sense of the most tangled and fraught conflict of our time—but he ventures forth with a shrug and a chuckle and confronts his subject with compassion, self-deprecation, and pluck. This is a frolic of a book, but at its core is the serious idea that no matter how grand the stage, policy affects (and is created by) actual people.”
—Max Watman, author of Chasing the White Dog: An Amateur Outlaw's Adventures in Moonshine
"A lively and humorous account of one man’s quest to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Levey’s thoughtfulness and wit make this book an absorbing read for Middle East neophytes and veterans alike."
—Jennifer Miller, author of Inheriting the Holy Land: An American's Search for Hope in the Middle East