It is Thursday afternoon here in Israel, the last day of the working week. I have finished all of my work for a major deadline, so I think I can be excused for telling a joke you may or may not have heard before, but which makes a very important point about the Middle East Conflict. It goes something like this:
The Prime Minister of Israel, Ariel Sharon, sits down with Mahmoud Abbas at the beginning of negotiations to resolve the conflict. Ariel Sharon requests that he be allowed to begin with a story, to which Abbas agrees.
Sharon begins his story:
“Years before the Israelites came to the Promised Land and settled here, Moses led them for 40 years through the desert. The Israelites began complaining that they were thirsty and, lo and behold, a miracle occurred and a stream appeared before them. They drank their fill and then decided to take advantage of the stream to do some bathing – including Moses.
When Moses came out of the water, he found that all his clothing was missing. ‘Who took my clothes?’ Moses asked those around him.
‘It was the Palestinians,’ replied the Israelites…”
“Wait a minute,” objected Abbas immediately, “there were no Palestinians during the time of Moses!”
“And on that note,” replied Ariel Sharon, “let’s begin our negotiations.”