Well, this is a little awkward.

That’s not a question.

 

Okay, how’s this? In your new book, How to Make Peace in the Middle East in Six Months Or Less Without Leaving Your Apartment, you set out to try to solve one of the world’s longest-running conflicts. Why?

I’m just sick of hearing about it. I think we all are, but because I’ve written about it before and worked briefly as a speechwriter for the Israeli Government, I am constantly flooded by crazy emails, letters, phone calls, and in-person conversations with people who want to give me their opinion about the conflict. People who often have no real connection to the region itself. I felt that the only way I could escape all that was to finally solve the conflict myself.

 

So it wasn’t about helping Israelis and Palestinians?

Yeah, yeah, that too. But mostly, I was just fatigued by the whole thing and wanted to put an end to it once and for all.

 

How did you go about trying to do it?

I began by speaking to people from all over the political spectrum, from the Right to the Left, both Jews and Arabs, and tried to come to terms with all the different views that are out there. I also went undercover as an Evangelical Christian, investigated an “online suicide bombing,” did paramilitary training with a Jewish militia, visited a real life castle owned by a cape-wearing self-proclaimed superhero who calls himself “Peaceman,” and hung out with a former advisor to Yasser Arafat. Oh, and I pestered the White House a lot. But they were nice about it.

 

Did you end up making peace in the Middle East?

Well, I don’t want to spoil the ending, so I can’t say. People will have to read the book to find out.

 

What did you learn during your journey?

I learned a number of things, but one of the more interesting observations I had was that no matter how outlandish the politics and behavior of the people I encountered, they all thought they were totally reasonable and that it was everyone else who was unhinged. After a while, that makes you start to doubt your own sanity.

 

After all, you are interviewing yourself.

Right.

 

Um, I hope this isn’t out of line, but would you like to get a drink sometime?

I would be delighted to. You seem like a charming young man.

 

 

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GREGORY LEVEY is the author of How To Make Peace in the Middle East in Six Months or Less Without Leaving Your Apartment and Shut Up, I'm Talking: And Other Diplomacy Lessons I Learned in the Israeli Government, both published by Simon & Schuster/Free Press. He has written for Newsweek, The New Republic, Salon, The Globe and Mail, and many other publications.

5 responses to “Gregory Levey: The TNB Self-Interview”

  1. Lisa Rae Cunningham says:

    Peaceman! He sounds nice. Is he single?

    …one of the more interesting observations I had was that no matter how outlandish the politics and behavior of the people I encountered, they all thought they were totally reasonable and that it was everyone else who was unhinged.

    I find this true all the time. It’s ironic our common humanity is defined by suspicion.

  2. Gloria says:

    Very fun interview. There, at the end – did you take yourself out, get yourself drunk, and then take yourself home? That’s the real story. Unless you really did bring peace to the Middle East. So, did you?

    • Greg Olear says:

      I think he did, Gloria…you don’t hear about it much anymore. The world’s attention has turned to more serious matters, like how far an Islamic learning center should be built from a neighborhood that was, not long ago and for many years, Little Syria, the Arab capital of New York. Also tax cuts.

      Fine work here, Gregory.

  3. […] 5. Starved for attention, I interviewed myself over at The Nervous Breakdown. […]

  4. debby says:

    You are a HOOT!! will head to the store to get your books…..keep me posted….what an interesting life you lead…..subject matter very serious…levity is a great way to help understanding…stay with it…..you’re on my “must read” list.

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