Over spring break, I traveled to the West Bank. For weeks, my friends conspired to stage the next Girls Gone Wild: Ramallah Edition. But I had larger aspirations: to revive the fractured negotiations between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs. I was armed with a new strategy — threesomes — and a secret weapon — Tinder.
My plan to entice a Palestinian Arab and an Israeli Jew into a threesome rested on well-established research in negotiations, which underscored the importance of building rapport. I would create a forum for intercultural dialogue (but not too much dialogue) and offer opportunities for repeated casual interaction. Over the course of each 45-minute session, participants would get to know each other, learn their preferences, and build tension before attaining the ultimate release.
And of course, I would unselfishly excuse myself at a certain point to leave the peace-building to those parties actually affected (the only way for a sustained peace). My approach was scalable, limited only by the eight days I spent in the Middle East and the number of people I could get to swipe right on my Tinder profile. If I could prove the concept, I could encourage hundreds, if not dozens, of threesomes for peace throughout the region. George Soros could underwrite the contraceptives. Angelina Jolie could make an appearance and participate in one of our “sessions.” I dreamed of a future of thousands of Israelis and Palestinians, young and old, embracing each other for the first time, brought together by a visionary American with a can-do attitude and a box of condoms.
I left for Ramallah with my Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech half-written and a mental shortlist of those I would invite to the ceremony in Oslo.
My plane landed and I immediately connected my iPhone to the WiFi so my Tinder account could start picking up the profiles of my Israeli and Palestinian counterparts. I had work to do.
I swiped right for the thin and fat alike, men and women, those that used “you’re” and “your” interchangeably, and profiles that consisted entirely of emojis. It’s important, in conflict resolution, to consider everyone as a potential ally until they swipe left on your Tinder profile. By the time I arrived at my hotel, I was chatting with half a dozen locals.
“Mazel tov!” I said to my Israeli interlocutors. “I’m an American, so exotic, from Harvard.”
“Habibi! Won’t you spend the night with me? So fun, I’m American, from Harvard,” I told the Palestinians.
I could tell I was making progress because they began using affectionate colloquialisms in our dialogue.
“Shmuck,” one texted endearingly in Yiddish.
“Hemar,” another wrote, comparing me to a beloved animal from the Holy Land.
Then of course, we shifted to the international language of love: emojis.
That first night, I think my Tinder account was jet-lagged because Bibi, Dalia, Jakob, Khaled, and Liora stopped replying. The next day, however, I resumed with renewed vigor. My skin, freshly exfoliated from the Dead Sea, was in perfect condition to conduct the inaugural Threesome for Peace.
I re-kindled my Tinder conversations, but this time, with the benefit of a day’s worth of knowledge of the realities on the ground. I decided to make some culturally aware jokes.
Me: Want to join me and my new friend, Avner? You can focus on my east half and he can focus on the west ;)
Me: Do you want to settle some unclaimed territory tonight? It will be…explosive.
Tamar: I’m unmatching you.
No luck. Two days passed, then four, then seven. I expected to go into the trip with a bang but I left without so much as a whimper.
On the way to the airport I regaled my taxi driver with tales of yet another failed attempt by an American to broker peace in the region.
He listened patiently, and said, “Habibti, you managed to do something I had never thought possible — the Palestinians and the Israelis hate you more than they hate each other.”
I pondered my driver’s words for a minute. As we wound our way through the streets of Tel Aviv toward the Ben Gurion Airport, I realized my project had succeeded. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. The key wasn’t to promote American-led threesomes — it was to promote profound un-American sentiment. The more meddling tourists, the better.
Next stop: Syria!