Birds, squirrels and the Israeli-Palestinian problem

SHARE Birds, squirrels and the Israeli-Palestinian problem

Let’s see if we can solve the Israeli/Palestinian problem right now, shall we?

The Palestinians want Israel, their former home, to be their home again. While waiting, they dwell in misery in the occupied territories, passing the time by lobbing rockets and committing various atrocities, like Tuesday’s slaughter of four Jews in a Jerusalem synagogue. They call it self-defense.


The Israelis, meanwhile, aren’t about to give up their land to the Palestinians and are content to keep them under guard — not without reason, given the facts outlined above—responding to their attacks with devastating force. Meanwhile, the years click by and the Israelis, not realizing it, grow nearly as divided, angry and extreme as their enemies, as David Remnick grimly describes in a recent New Yorker. 

Have I plainly stated the situation? Good. Now, on to the solution. 

The Palestinians could have their state, but not the state they want. And the Israelis could allow the Palestinians back into their country, but then it wouldn’t be a Jewish country. Plus there’s no reason to think Palestinians would give up the killing that has been their central mode of self-expression. 

The solution, therefore, clearly is … umm. 

This direct approach isn’t working. 

Let’s try a metaphor. Maybe that’ll help.

I love birds, and for the usual reasons. They fly. They sing. They’re beautiful.

I hit upon the strategy of attracting birds by feeding them, and I stuck a wrought-iron pole in the backyard, hung a feeder off it, kept it stocked with seed. It worked. Blue jays and red-winged blackbirds, yellow swallows and brown robins flock to it, to my joy.

And squirrels.

The squirrels ruin everything. I hate squirrels. They dart. They twitch. They have, in the past, attacked my home, in the city, trying to chew through the accordion slide next to a window air conditioner, my wife shrieking while I mobilized to our defense.

Squirrels have the run of my backyard. They are interlopers and don’t belong. I’m willing to cede the trees to them; what choice is there? But I’ve tried to keep them off the feeder. That’s the birds’ food they’re gobbling up. At first greasing the iron pole worked — not so much making them slide, as they’re loath to get coated in the stuff.


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