The day Peres met McEwan

While British writer Ian McEwan visits Israel and receives the Jerusalem Prize – despite BDS activists calling him to refuse due to mingling with a pro-settler, Zionist establishment – Jews Sans Frontieres has exclusive access to the conversation between McEwan and Israeli President Shimon Peres:

Ian McEwan: Nice meeting you, Mr. President.

Shimon Peres: Oh Ian, can I call you Ian? What a pleasure to meet you! You must know I am a great admirer of your books!

Ian McEwan: I am truly honored. Anything in particular?

Shimon Peres: you know, we used to have that Zionist song when I was young, that we would cover the homeland with “a dress of concrete and cement.” And we did it! When you look at Jerusalem today, look at the mountains. A dress of concrete and cement. Isn’t that wonderful? Your “Cement Garden” always reminds me of that.

Ian: But, Mr. President. I am not certain that this is what the book was about. I was more interested in children trying to cope with an extreme situation.

Shimon: Exactly what I meant! Weren’t we all? Children in extreme situations? I was barely passing thirty when I plotted my first false flag terrorist attack in Egypt.

Ian: I hardly think thirty qualifies as a child. But perhaps, Mr. President, you are confusing my novel with “the lord of the flies?”

Shimon: Not at all! Not at all! Just coming out of the holocaust, traumatized, really, just like those children, having to deal with Nasser’s attempts to tie down our hands with peace. Syria offering us peace. The King of Jordan ready to divide Palestine with us. The US even offering our little state a defense pact if we only agreed to make peace with Egypt. That was the time when I started my political career. You can’t imagine how lonely and endangered we felt. We were scared to death. We had to be creative. Apropos the holocaust, I really liked how you managed to insert a mention of Dachau in the very first paragraph of your speech today. That’s the thing I admire about creative types like yourself. If you ever want to be an ambassador for Israel, call me.

Ian: Oh Mr. President, I am flattered…I hardly think…oh…but there was something I wanted to discuss with you.

Shimon: Of course, Ian, I always enjoy conversations with writers. Thankfully, I don’t know how it is in Britain. But Israeli writers always enjoy the illusion that they have the ears of our politicians. Let’s walk to the pastry table and you tell me everything what’s on your mind.

Ian: It’s the settlements.

Shimon: Yes, the settlements. Terrible business. Terrible. Shortsighted. We are digging our own grave. When I started the settlement project, we had young men and women with values. They treated their Palestinian neighbors like…

Ian: You started it?

Shimon: But of course, Ian. Those were the days. Just after the Six Days War. Covering the homeland in “a dress of concrete and cement”. Fence and stockade. After 1967, we were at the beginning again. We were reborn again and then reborn again again. God has granted us a second start, to do in Judea and Samaria what the generation before us did in Jaffa and Lydda and Haifa. We were so beautiful, so energized!

Ian: I don’t know what to say.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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