Having Your Cake and Eating It Too

Yesterday evening, in the course of “zapping” between TV stations, I happened to see a BBC documentary about Israeli President Shimon Peres ( a man who, at 90, gives a whole new meaning to the title “elder statesman”).  Amongst other things, Peres was interviewed by journalist Lyse Doucet. Speaking about the chances of peace in the Middle East, and questioned as to whether it was possible to hold on to Israeli “settlements” and still have peace, Peres remarked that it was necessary to be “creative”. I’m not sure what he meant, but I was reminded of a story I heard recently, during a course on Mediation in which I participated, under the auspices of the Israel Bar Association. I call it: “The Tale of an Orange”, and it goes like this:

     There was once a man who had two young daughters. This man worked very hard all day to earn a living, and when he came home at the end of the day, he wanted nothing more than to collapse in the rocking-chair on his porch with a cold drink and a slice of watermelon. However, on the particular day in question, he was unable to do so, because of the loud screams and shrieks of his daughters coming from the kitchen. Trusting that the children’s mother would soon put a stop to their squabbling, he pulled his baseball cap down over his face and tried very hard to take a nap. But the shouts and screams continued and the unfortunate father remembered that his wife, who also worked full time to help pay the bills, had gone to a conference out of town and would not be back till late.

     The man sighed, pulled himself to his feet and went inside. 

      What in the world are you two fighting about?” he demanded, wearily.

      The children started to recount their wrongs. As they were speaking – or rather, shouting –  simultaneously, it was impossible for their father to understand what they were saying, beyond the fact that there was a single orange on the kitchen counter, to which both girls laid claim. 

     Without waiting to hear more, the harassed father seized the orange with one hand, took up a knife with the other and, without further ado, sliced the orange in two and handed one half to each of his daughters.      

     “There!” he said, impatiently. “Now let’s have no more nonsense, Maybe now we can have some peace and quiet and I’ll be able to get some sleep!”.

     A couple of hours later, the children’s mother came home. The sound of her key turning in the lock brought the children running to the door to greet her. 

     “Have you been playing together nicely, darlings?” she asked them.     

     “Oh, yes, Mummy!” they replied.       

     “What have you been doing?

     “Making orange juice,” said one, with a sigh. “But I only had enough juice for half a cup, so there wasn’t enough for both of us.”

    “Making orange-flavoured muffins,” said her sister, discontentedly. “But I only had enough orange peel for one.” 

     Later that evening, after the children had gone to bed, their mother complimented her husband on having successfully kept the children amused while she was out. “I’m surprised they didn’t start squabbling, as usual,” she said.      

     “Well, actually, they did,” the man replied, rather proud of his parenting skills. “But I soon put a stop to that.” And he recounted to her the story of the orange.

     His wife (who had obviously attended the same Mediation course as I did – ed.) listened carefully and then told him how their daughters had spent their time while he was sleeping. You see, darling, if you had only demanded that they speak one at a time, and had had the patience to listen to the very end, you would have understood that each of them wanted something different. One of them wanted the orange peel and the other wanted the orange juice. If, instead of losing your patience and simply cutting the orange in two and giving each girl half an orange, you had made them peel the orange and squeeze all the juice before dividing up the spoils, Sarah would have had ALL the juice and Rachel would have had ALL the peel. As it is – each had to make do with only half.”

I do not know if the lessons to be learned from this little tale are applicable to the Middle East Peace Process. Still – it’s food for thought, isn’t it?

About Shimona from the Palace

Born in London, the UK, I came on Aliyah in my teens and now live in Jerusalem, where I practice law. I am a firm believer in the words of Albert Schweitzer: "There are two means of refuge from the sorrows of this world - Music and Cats." To that, you can add Literature. To curl up on the sofa with a good book, a cat at one's feet and another one on one's lap, with a classical symphony or concerto in the background - what more can a person ask for?
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22 Responses to Having Your Cake and Eating It Too

  1. Lateral Thinker says:

    I am reminded of the story of the Muslim extremist and the heckler at Speaker’s Corner in London’s Hyde Park. The Muslim speaker declared that in the long-run the Muslims were bound to win because “the Jews love life, whereas the Muslims love death.” At that point a heckler in the audience shouted out: “Give ’em BOTH what they want!”

    That’s also food for thought!

  2. Chrissie says:

    I never have the sense that the Jews are squabbling about their rights in this mess. More that they know they’re in the right and they hold on grimly, refusing to budge. The Muslims, on the other hand, know no other method, or rather, CHOOSE to squabble amongst themselves and with the world. They don’t squabble because they know they’re in the right, but because they WANT. Just plain WANT. They want what everyone else has, starting with the Jews and then to the rest of the world. Every community they invade, infiltrate or lay claim to becomes a nest of squabbling and fighting, sucking up all resources and giving back nothing. So, the moral of the story is this: The Muslims will stand in the middle of the kitchen, shouting and waving their knives, while the Jews will go on to make orange juice AND muffins. And that’s AFTER the orange has been cut in half.

    • Some of us hold on grimly, knowing we’re in the right. Others, unfortunately, have bought into the “Palestinian” narrative and beat their breasts as if it was Yom Kippur and they were saying “Ashamnu”, while still others deceive themselves that by making concessions, we can come to an arrangement – without realising that, for the Arabs, making concessions is seen as a sign of weakness.

  3. Akram Tahrier says:

    I can see how that’s going to work! The Zionazis will “decide” for the Palestinians that we want the desert, that we don’t really “want” to dig deep wells to save our vines, that we really want extremist Israelis settling next door to them and seizing upon the slightest pretext to shoot us, that we want our homes to be demolished, that we want our grapes to wither on the vine while the nearby Israeli settlement has filtered water in its swimming pool! How the Palestinians “want” to be hewers of wood and drawers of water under the Greater Israel apartheid system!

    How about you let us decide what you want instead? You let us decide that you want to return to Europe from whence you came and hold Europe – not the Arab world – responsible for the so-called holocaust!

    • First of all – are you trying to imply that the Holocaust didn’t happen? Because if so, you won’t be posting on here for much longer. I don’t have many rules – in fact, I don’t have any, and I am always happy to encourage open debate , but the existence of the Holocaust is not open to debate.
      Secondly – your leaders have spouted so often this lie that “the Jews came from Europe” that I think you have really come to believe it yourselves! The fact that many Jews were exiled from the Land of Israel (some of them to Europe and some of them to Middle Eastern and North African countries) did not sever their connection to their homeland. After all, you claim that the children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren of “Palestinians” who fled in 1948 remain “Palestinians”, don’t you?
      Thirdly – you’ve obviously missed the point of the story, which is, that a mediator should listen to both sides all the way through, in order to understand what they really want. It’s not about one side deciding for the other what the other side wants. Sometimes (as I learned in my mediation course), it’s also about helping the sides think things through and understanding what it is they really want.

      • Akram Tahrier says:

        “you won’t be posting on here for much longer”

        Typical Zionist censorship. Not content with owning the press, you’re now trying to censor the internet – the ONE area that has so far remained free of Zionist control. You think that because you bribe Intel with tax breaks and have Google as a Zionist front that you can ride rough shod over everyone who questions your version of history.

        For the record, I am not saying that the holocaust didn’t happen. It happened in EUROPE. And the people who did it were so-called “civilized” westerners – now there’s joke! Secondly, Jews were not the only victims. Gypsies, Poles, Communists, Trade Unionists, socialists and lots of others were also killed. Thirdly, there have been other massacres. Stalin and Mao each killed more people than Hitler. Even Pol Pot killed over a million people – some estimates put it as high as THREE million! So yes Jews were killed, but, your suffering is not unique!

        That leads to another issue – the Naqbah inflicted upon the Palestinian people. You Zionists may have only killed a “few” thousand Palestinians, but you have crushed our spirit under the weight of your dream of “returning” to yourr homeland is a tragedy of greater consequence. You Zionists have turned Palestine into a living HELL for my people. As for your historic connection, well I suggest you read THE THIRTEENTH TRIBE by one of your OWN people!

        And even if you AshkeNAZI Jews were descended from the original Israelites, even the original Israelites were only some of the tribes. Your prophet Ezra refused to acknowldge the Israelites who didn’t belong to Judah, Benjamin or the “good” half of Menasheh. The rest of the “lost” tribes became Arabs!

        Besides, there’s a difference between the right of return after 60 years and the right of return after two THOUSAND. Your position is like saying that the Welsh can demand England because it was Celtic before the Saxon invasion!

      • Akram, my friend (I use that term in its broadest sense). I have told you, I have very few rules. You can call it censorship, if you like, but this is MY blog. Now, I don’t censor opinions, but I do insist on a minimal level of courtesy and I will NOT tolerate expressions such as “AshkeNAZI”? And I notice, moreover, with your ludicrous accusations about control of the Press, that you are reverting to the typical antisemitic rhetoric.
        As to Koestler’s “The Thirteenth Tribe” – even if we accept as fact that the Khazars converted en masse to Judaism (a fact which would explain Turkic DNA in Ashkenazi Jews), all that would prove is that the Khazars mingled with the Jews (or the Jews with the Khazars). As you may or may not know, a gentile who converts to Judaism is accepted as part of the Jewish people. But that fact would not make all the existing European Jews disappear! And we know there were Jewish communities in Europe from Roman times, from both Jewish and Roman sources.
        Re: The so-called “Naqba” – did you know this expression was actually coined in 1920, by “Palestinian” Arabs protesting the division of Syria and “Palestine” between Britain and France? As for claiming that your “Naqba” is of greater consequence than the Holocaust that befell the Jews in the 1st half of the 20th century – there can be no comparison between the two. And you are wrong – our suffering is unique – because in none of the cases you mentioned did the suffering of those people stem from a premeditated plan to eradicate an entire nation from the face of the earth. See my previous post “Naqba Does NOT Equal Shoah”.

    • Lateral Thinker says:

      @Akram Tahrier,

      you are a complete idiot if you call Israel an Apartheid state! An apartheid state where 17% of the citizens and 17% of the university students are Arabs? Where Arabs are 56% of the pharmacy students? Where they have Arab judges and lawyers and members of parliament and a proportional voting system in which Arabs can vote? In which Bedouin Arabs can and do serve in the army – as VOLUNTEERS! Serving with honour and distinction! That doesn’t sound like apartheid to me, my friend.

  4. CATachresis says:

    Excellent! But when one party can only get what they want by destroying the other, there is probably no happy solution for both!

    • That is true. Unfortunately, if one listens very carefully to our so-called “peace partners”, it becomes clear that what they want is not really a Palestinian state (because if that’s what they really wanted, they would have demanded that the Jordanians, at least, withdraw from the West Bank any time between 1948 and 1967, and would have established a state there, at least. The same goes for the Egyptian-occupied Gaza Strip.)
      Israel, on the other hand, doesn’t want to destroy anybody. Merely to survive.

  5. Silke says:

    me thinks the orange example is a little too high minded and theoretical and idealistic – me thinks that in real life the girls wanted to squabble over the orange and their father was right in dividing it.

    I’d guess that only when they had both their halves did they become creative and started thinking about what to do with them, possibly they came to the agreement on how to use them to be able to complain to mother about father.

    And if they had been really as willing to compromise as their mother assumes they could have easily come to a contract of you give me the juice of your half in exchange for the peel of mine.

    I have seen many a boss return from one of those mediation courses trying their newly learned skills and tactics on office fights. It invariably ended making things worse than they were before unless of course they were willing to command with or without having listened.

    If they listened and thereby found out that there was a legitimate complaint at the root of it all they may have fixed that one – but again by command. I think it is in Wilhelm Tell that Friedrich Schiller lets one character say that even the most pious can’t live in peace if the neighbour doesn’t like it. And alas that is IMHO behind most office fights. From which follows that the neighbour eager to find something to squabble about will find something new unless firmly told by authority that s/he won’t stand a chance next time also.

    As to elder statesmen there was the first German chancellor Konrad Adenauer who held on to office until he was 87 and only because he let a misstep happen could be coaxed into retirement. Given the advances of medicine in the meantime you can’t possibly consider Peres “elder” as yet 😉 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Konrad_Adenauer#Chancellor_of_West_Germany

    • @Silke: So are you saying that the Americans and/or the EU should put their foot down and impose a settlement?

      • Silke says:

        no of course not – neither of them has sovereignty over Israel

        they should start treating Israel like everybody else with difficult issues – when have you last heard of them “putting their foot down” to make anybody else settle their issues.

        Israel isn’t a colony or a mandate or a protectorate it is a partner und it should be treated like one.

        If the US and EU had any bones they would admit that they are incapable of inducing the leaders of the Arabs of Judäa and Samaria to behave like people one would buy a used car from and instead of sucking up to them would tell them it is enough boys.

        I am currently in the midst of a book on England 1914 to 1945 and there in the 20s all that mediation does the job every time stuff into being.

        I have a very interesting lecture on the Verdict of Battle – what I remember from it that that has more and more vanished from our conflicts – be that as it may I feel very strongly that all those self-appointed well meaners in the case of Israel are just after cheating her out of her very honestly (and bravely) acquired entitlements. Israel certainly should be amongst those who are entitled to praise themselves for “good wars”.

      • Silke says:

        my favourite revery re Israel is (for amongst others very selfish reasons I admit) that the US and Europe send an aircraft carrier each park them in the mediterranean opposite Israel’s coast in international waters of course – have them point their cannons at your neighbours and fly large banners saying: don’t even think of it …

        that’d be a rational way of behaving instead of all this devious peace talkerism always claiming that Israel bears responsibility for “them” coming to the table or not. (but then what about oil ;-(

        If “they” really wanted peace they’d run to the table …

        Do you remember the time when “they” refused any contact at the UN? as best I know that has changed these days – now isn’t that a success after more than 60 years of hard work that “mediation” can be very very proud of? (sarc intended)

        Somewhere on The New Yorker there is a piece by historian Jill Lepore on marriage counselling that contains the amazing finding that that so much lauded and recommended institution isn’t at all successful at saving marriages.

  6. TBM says:

    I’ve never heard the orange story before. Thanks for sharing. It is food for thought–only if all arguments could be solved so easily.

  7. mysending says:

    Your story is so valuable; some of the comments; not so much. But well-done and well-replied!

    • Thank you. I’ve never yet blocked a comment but believe me, sometimes, I really would like to. But it’s better to show these people up for what they really are. And who knows, maybe – just maybe – I might, some day, be able to make one of them see sense and realise they were wrong.

  8. Akram Tahrier says:

    “As for claiming that your “Naqba” is of greater consequence than the Holocaust that befell the Jews in the 1st half of the 20th century – there can be no comparison between the two.”

    That is typical of a Jew. You are so obsessed with your physical life upon this earth that you can think of nothing worse than being deprived of it! But what about the crushing of the SPIRIT of the Palestinian people under the Zionist jackboot? Do you know what it is like being subject to a LIVING hell? Being sentenced to a lifelong hell on earth? Because that is what you apartheid Zionists are doing to my people!

    ” And you are wrong – our suffering is unique – because in none of the cases you mentioned did the suffering of those people stem from a premeditated plan to eradicate an entire nation from the face of the earth.”

    So you admit that it’s not the raw NUMBER of people who were killed that is important! Then why do you make such a big deal about the figure six million? And attack anyone who tries to question it – even Jews?

    Also Hitler didn’t try to kill all the Jews in the WORLD – only those in Europe. He thought that they were damaging to Europe – a view shared by many other Europeans through the ages. We in the Muslim world, in contrast, have always treated the Jews with kindness and tolerance. Even today we get on very well with true God-fearing Jews like Naturei Karta, Satmar, Shomer Emunim, Mishkenos HoRoim, Dushinsky. Even the Lubavitch movement was initilly against Zionism until they sold out.

    Aside from that, the Jews are not a nation. They are a religion. Whilst I do not condemn people who place their religion above national allegiance – I myself am a Muslim first and a Palestinian second – I don’t see any reason for confusing the two. By all means, place the laws of God above those of man. But do not delude yourselves that an American Jew, an Egyptian Jew and a French Jew share a common nationality – because they DON’T!

  9. Lateral Thinker says:


    I was tempted to call you a silly ass, but if I did I’d have to apologize… to silly asses everywhere! If you find life on this earth so unpleasant, please feel free to take your leave of us. I for one will not stand in your way. As I said earlier, if Jews love life and Muslims love death, the remedy is simple: give them both what they want – just like the orange juice and peel.

    I’ve already refuted your silly argument that Israel is an apartheid state and yet you persist with it. I won’t offer you any more evidence. If you can prove your claim, go ahead. As the Americans say: put up or shut up!

    As for listing a bunch of self-hating Jews like Naturei Karta and calling them “God-fearing” – well I can understand why the people who gave us Khomeini and Bin Laden should think that growing a beard brings you closer to God. Presumably you also idolize Rasputin, Karl Marx and…oh yes, Theodore Herzl (although at least he keept hs beard tidy). The reality is that growing facial hair does not make one a better person. Neither does living in a country whilst calling for its destruction. Naturei Karta, Satmar and the others are just a bunch of hypocrits!

    Yes Hitler murdered millions of Jews in Europe. But he was happy to work with Haj Amin al-Husseini, the “Grand” Mufti of Jerusalem, to murder Jews in mandatory Palestine too! The latter carried out sabotage against the allies, urged Hitler to bomb Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and persuaded Hitler not to allow 4000 Jewish children to leave Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania for Palestine. Hitler also used Bosnian Muslims as his attack dogs against Serbia. So the Holocaust was not a purely European affair. The barbarians of Araby were only too happy dip their filthy hands in Jewish blood.

  10. @Akram: “So you admit that it’s not the raw NUMBER of people who were killed that is important! Then why do you make such a big deal about the figure six million?”
    Of course it’s important – quantitively speaking. What makes the Jewish suffering so unique is the special evil of the intent behind it, the attempt to completely erase an entire nation from the face of the earth. I have written about this in previous posts. But the magnitude is also important. There is no contradiction here.

    “Also Hitler didn’t try to kill all the Jews in the WORLD – only those in Europe”
    Only because that was as far as his hand reached. But records were found of his plans for the Jews of North Africa, and if were not for the fact that the Allies managed to stop Rommel’s troops, the Nazis would have finished off the Jews of the Maghreb, Egypt and Eretz Yisrael.

    “But what about the crushing of the SPIRIT of the Palestinian people under the Zionist jackboot? Do you know what it is like being subject to a LIVING hell? ”
    The spirit of the “Palestinian” people doesn’t seem notably crushed to me. Tell me, what has happened to the “Palestinians” that can be seriously compared to what happened to the Jews under the Nazis? First the Jews were deprived of their civil rights (even though they were citizens of Germany and later, of the countries conquered by the Nazis). They were not permitted to study in the same schools and universities as “Aryans”. Their property was confiscated and given to Aryans. In fact, they were no longer allowed to own property.They were then dismissed from their jobs and their jobs were given to Aryans. Shops and restaurants put up signs in the doorways: “No admission to dogs, Jews and Negroes.” A Jew who had sexual relations with an Aryan was liable to the death penalty. “Jewish” music could no longer be publicly performed – thus, it became a criminal offence to play music by Mendelssohn, Mahler, Kurt Weill etc. Later on, all Jews (including anyone who had even one Jewish grandparent) were shipped off, first to concentration camps and later, to extermination camps. Has Israel done any of this to the “Palestinians”? Of course not.

    “We in the Muslim world, in contrast, have always treated the Jews with kindness and tolerance”
    I admit that after a few initial massacres by Muhammed himself (such as the Banu Qurayzah), for the most part, the Jews were better treated by the Muslims than by the Christians (at least up until the 17th century CE), but they were always treated as second class citizens. But there were still massacres of Jews every now and then – and let’s not forget the Blood Libel of Damascus in 1840, in which, though instigated by Christians, Muslims happily took part.

    “Aside from that, the Jews are not a nation. They are a religion”.
    We are both.

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