Just when I was ready to give up on peace, along comes Gregory Levey and his new book

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Hopes for peace in the Middle East rise and fall like a thrill ride at an amusement park. Yet most people seem convinced the rollercoaster ride is going to end badly. When you are on the hill and zipping down so fast your stomach moves into your throat, it might feel like the end of the world, as it does these days in the Middle East, but then reality sets in and you slow down as you approach another rise.

It’s so easy to lose hope and so hard to keep it, but along comes a new book by my friend Gregory Levey, believe it or not a former speech writer for a bunch of Israeli prime ministers I might never say I admired. Yet Levey was so encouraging in his optimistic search for peace, rambling from one Israeli or Palestinian activist or organization like a pinball slamming against rubber bumpers and screaming excitement and hope.

Level, the author of a book on his former speech-writing career for some of Israel’s rightwing leaders called “Shut up, I’m Talking: And Other Diplomact Lessons I Learned in the Israeli Government,” has published a new book, one that is lighter and more serious in its lightness.

It’s called “How to Make Peace in the Middle East in Six months or Less Without Leaving Your Apartment .” Talk about fatalistic optimism. Yet the book takes you through the highs and lows of the Middle East peace. He talks to everyone (including me) about peace and anti-peace. Sometimes, understanding anti-peace can help you understand peace.

Levey’s book is encouraging in its determination to reach out to everyone he can possibly meet, something uncommon in Middle East journalism. Many Arab journalists won’t interview Israeli Prime Minister Bejamin Netanyahu and especially refused to interview Ariel Sharon, who many Arabs view as a mass murderer and criminal terrorist. Yet, many Israeli journalists would not interview Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. And if they did, the Israeli government would put them in jail, anyway, just in case.

It’s a terrible world to navigate that peace adventure, but Levey does it with skill, wit and stubbornness that is mandatory for anyone who hopes to one day see peace int he Middle East.

I loved the book and its easy writing style. His speech writing skills come out in full force in his narrative of his travels and encounters.

“How to Make Peace in the Middle East in Six months or Less Without Leaving Your Apartment .”
Gregory Levey
Free Press, hardcover, Sept. 7, 2010
ISBN 9-7814-3915-415-1
$25
288 pp

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and Columnist who began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He covered Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992 (Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley) and has expanded to writing for newspapers around the world focussed on Middle East and American politics.

Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.

Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com. He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites TheArabDailyNews.com and NewsAmericaNetwork.com (Illinois News Network at IllinoisNewsNetwork.com).

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania

Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com