Global Politics

Shut Up I'm Talking

GL's former job is never far from his mind, especially as he considers the latest developments in the Middle East: What's going through my mind is frustration at what's going on there right now. (How did you get that job as a 25 year world working at the UN mission?) Completely bizarre, I was 25 and a law student in New York. I applied for an internship working at the Israeli consulate and got through security checks and I get to the senior diplomat's office and he says we don't have internships and so we wanted to know if you would come on as a speech writer because ours just quit. And then a year and a half later they asked me to move to Israel to work as a speech writer for the Prime Minister. And I did. (But back at the UN, your job was to issue statements on behalf of the missions and you had to respond to anything that came your way.) Something would come through the door and they said, we need a speech in two hours or less. I would get a call, for example, that we received info on surveillance drones in Gaza and we need a speech immediately. Another story, I said on my CV that I spoke French but I'm not a French speaker by any stretch. So one day a senior diplomat calls me in and said he knows I know French. So he says we got this statement from a UN official speaking French that had some anti-Israeli things to say and we need it translated. I called everyone I knew but no one could help, so I had to do my best to translate it. one of the key lines in the translation was something I translated as �Israel is the great poison in the region,� but after I handed it in I started to question this translation. (We have to say that sabotage does apply in your case. You really were having fun with is when you weren't terrified.) Right, well later I was less afraid, and I was by this time writing speeches for Ariel Sharon. I thought I would insert Seinfeld references into his speeches; so the speech would fill certain needed functions, and I would put in Seinfeld references that some would understand. (What is the pleasure in that? Did you feel like this was a bit of charade?) I never did anything that would subvert things. (This does not shine a good light on Israeli officials or the UN mission.) I don't know if I agree. It's a very informal, free-flowing society and the government is willing to take risks because the situation moves so quickly. People are a little less stuck in their ways there. (Tell us about some of your experiences sitting at the table.) Well at the UN, it really is like a world microcosm and at the cafeteria you would never see the Cuban delegation sitting with the American delegation. Iranian and Syrian diplomats would never make eye contact with me. I think there's too much black and white framing of the issue. People need to calm down and try to deal with the situation moderately. I also worry the conflict is becoming more of a religious one and less of a political one and my concern is that as it becomes a religious conflict, I don't know how it could be solved as such.

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