By Andrew Chilton
A Ryerson professional communications professor is getting international attention for his book about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, How to Make Peace in the Middle East in Six Months or Less Without Leaving Your Apartment.
Gregory Levey is a former speechwriter for Israeli Prime Ministers Ehud Olmert and Ariel Sharon, and although Levey may not have single-handedly made peace in the Middle East, he offers his humorous insight into the North American influence on the crisis.
“I don’t really have a strong message here. I think there are enough people with messages on the Middle East, whether right wing or left wing; Jewish or Arab— everyone has their message. My message is: there is no message and I’m annoyed with all the other messages,” said Levey.
In his quest to solve the crisis, Levey consults and interviews various public figures and people from different economic and ethnic backgrounds who endorse views from all angles of the political spectrum — everyone from a man selling sub-par produce, to extremists barraging his e-mail inbox, to representatives of lobbyist groups including the Jewish Defense League and the Palestinian Mission.
“I’ve had really positive [responses] from the Israeli press. I’ve had positive [responses] from a very important Palestinian think-tank in Washington. It’s been picked up by quite a lot of world press. It was on BBC World and National Public Radio,” Levey said.
Despite his welcoming commercial and literary success, Levey admits that, “in some respects [the project] was a bit frustrating.”
“I could have had more political insight perhaps or more big shots to talk to if things had worked out. But in the end you know, I’m happy. You do what you can. You’re never going to be perfectly happy with anything you write,” he said.
After touring New York and Washington, the book’s official Canadian launch was this past Wednesday, Sept. 29 at The Garrison.
“[Book touring] is just an experience; it’s just sort of grueling especially because I have to work it in between classes. So I would teach a class and fly off again—tiring,” said Levey.
Levey said Ryerson played a role in getting press attention for his book and lightening his workload to help compensate for all of his traveling. However, his ambitious acceptance of an occupational double-life has offered more than just fatigue.
“[Teaching my students] has certainly given me an understanding of a segment of the population I may not have been necessarily in touch with otherwise. In many ways that is a segment that I’m targeting with my book: young people.”
Photo courtesy of Simon & Schuster Canada