There are hundreds of thousands of apps available for smartphones and tablets, but none let me play lead peace negotiator for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. None let me play with border configurations, settler and refugee moves, housing, water distribution rights or police and military placements. I can’t even play with who gets to administer and guard Jerusalem holy sites. All I can download are a few anodyne Palestinian or Israeli apps primarily geared toward a boorish target demographic.
Why not a Gaza blockade app? There’s got to be a market to play something like Brick Breaker with the smuggling tunnels, now that the Egyptian” and Turkish Flotilla “springs” have sprung a leakier blockade. Why not build off of the bestselling iPhone Pocket God game to create different winning (and supremely enforceable) Palestinian and Israeli peace scenarios?
Israeli right of right wing politico, Likud MK Danny Danon, has recognized the dearth of fun Middle East apps. Danon, a slightly more sane Israeli Glenn Beck, and one of Israeli leader Binyamin Netanyahu’s many ersatz coalition members — he’s at least loyal on
the few days a month when he isn’t working to restrict democracy and Israeli and Arab civil rights, or creating loyalty tests for Diaspora supporters — has his very own mobile app. So I downloaded it, hoping to access something interesting.
I had high hopes. I imagined that nestled snugly within Danon’s assorted “audacity of
hate” messages, we might find some type of feature that would enable Israeli and Palestinian gamers, and their world-wide supporters, to take opposing sides. Perhaps they would battle to
see who could post the least responsive and least hopeful responses to selected Middle East issues. A panel of hate experts — there’s no shortage of candidates on each side — might then vote on the winner.
But all my dreaming was for naught. Hebrew language only apps tend to discourage world-wide interactivity or understanding. Plus Danon’s app appears to be all about Danon and what he thinks and believes. How can that be any fun? But Danon’s lack of foresight is my opportunity to get first mover advantage.
So I’m hoping to soon be in development. Perhaps for 99 cents you, too, will soon be able to play my new Israeli and Palestinian peace negotiation mobile game. The market for this may be more limited than for most gaming apps, but you won’t find more loyal game players anywhere. This game within a game already has 44 years of demonstrated staying power. And there
aren’t too many games that President Obama, the U.S. Congress, and the Arab League have all endorsed and supported.
But my game is going to have certain rules. I’ll have preconditions. I get to decide if you are eligible to play.
And we’ll need a strong defense against cheaters, who will try to unilaterally hack their way to victory. That’s going to require my own defensible game borders. Unfortunately, that means there won’t be complete freedom of movement throughout my game. And some parts of the game
will need stronger and more intrusive administrative and security controls than others.
I may consider eventually allowing some self-policing in certain less critical parts of the game, but until I get comfortable I’m going to designate areas where they’ll be full or partial gamer control. And if that doesn’t work right, I’ll reserve the right to arbitrarily change my control levels.
Plus, this only makes security sense if qualification rules require every player to register, state their Middle East affiliation and agree to never play any other peace games. Leave, and you’ll have no right to return. It’s all about loyalty.
I won’t force anyone to leave, so if you flee it won’t really matter why you left. I might eventually refund your money, but if I think you’re a threat to attack any of my security controls then not only won’t you get your money back, I may remotely target and then destroy your mobile device. And any other family member’s gadgets as well.
If other nearby “innocent” iPhone user devices are accidentally destroyed in the process, then that’s just a tough lesson you and your friends will have to suffer. My app was here
before any other and that will make it the only legitimate peace app. That’s worth protecting.
Of course, there will always be a few people who complain about having to register. They’re the same people who teach their kids and other gamers to hate and attack app developers. These registration rules are there for a reason. Too many gamers can’t be trusted.
It’s in their Gamer D.N.A.. They have no plan to build a better app. All they want to do is disrupt and destroy the experience of other gamers. And there’s no real “gamer” authority willing to stop them. So what some may feel is unreasonable, I say is necessary. I need all of the registration information to protect the law-abiding gamers so they can play their app normally like any other app player would expect to do anywhere else in the world. Plus, I need the most sophisticated gaming design and controls so my app can do what no other app designer has yet been able to accomplish, especially one with so few resources and so many other hostile app designers conspiring against me.They want to delegitimize my efforts, but they won’t succeed. My app could change the way the world sees app designers.
Want examples of my app’s power? Imagine that Netanyahu decides he needs some interactive
peace negotiation practice. My app will be so sophisticated that it will immediately recognize that he isn’t really serious about practicing for peace as much as practicing arguments about
why the Palestinians aren’t ready. A Shas party-approved warning light will flash — we’re
still in negotiations on whether the warning light can flash on the Sabbath — and Netanyahu’s game experience will immediately change.
The app will automatically redirect him to a “housing options” section. While Netanyahu won’t get the full game experience, this will allow him to play with possible solutions to an
issue he is interested in addressing— housing for the growing number of Israeli tent dwellers complaining about high housing costs — and an issue that he’s not, but that he should be — building enough housing units for the thousands of West Bank settlers he would have to resettle in Israel under any successful peace plan.
Let’s shift to Ramallah for another example. Imagine that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas wants to play with border configurations. My app will recognize the sequencing error. A flashing Hamas button will redirect Abbas to the security section of the app where he will have to game plan on effectively controlling Hamas and strengthening security before he can enter the borders section.
It’s all still a work in progress, just like the Middle East. But the more Israeli and Palestinian leaders and supporters regularly practice what peace could look like, develop an ability to game plan around the many warning lights, and then realize that not only is peace possible, but that continuing in this current state of comfortable uncomfortableness is more dangerous than taking risks for peace, then the faster peace can and will come.
All for just 99 cents. And an open mind focused far less on assigning blame for an often horrible past, than on accepting responsibility for creating a new and more hopeful future.
Photo: [IsraelMFA, Flickr]