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Middle East Bullsh*t Bingo



That was my reaction to a recent address by Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni at the Saban Center. Here's the explanation. A not-so-new joke traveling around the Internet runs like this:

Do you know how to play corporate bullsh*t bingo? Next time you are at a business meeting, divide a piece of paper into 25 squares. Write a phrase chosen from among the following in each box:

strategic fit; core competencies; out of the box; bottom line; revisit; take that off-line; 24/7; out of the loop; benchmark; value-added; proactive; win-win; think outside the box; fast track; result-driven; empower (or empowerment); knowledge base; at the end of the day; touch base; mindset; client focus(ed); ballpark; game plan; leverage; lose electronic control; required deliverables; salami science; cutting edge; e-medicine (e-design, etc); face time; you don't have to be a rocket scientist.

Listen to the dialogue. Each time you hear one of the phrases, mark the appropriate box. When you have filled 25 squares, jump up and yell "Bingo!" Then look for a new job.

The local variant of the above is called Middle East Bullsh*t bingo. Here are excerpts from zippy Tzipi Livni's speech that caused me to yell out "BINGO!"

We have decided to look for a vision and a common denominator with the Palestinian leadership and together to change the situation on the ground.

As leaders, we have the responsibility of checking out all options, diagnosing the problems - and there are problems - and finding opportunities to advance the process.

The situation today is more complex than ever; we must recognize the reality on the ground. ....

I believe that we must send a message to the Palestinian people.

This is not a zero-sum game.

We must find the way to agreements, but this will happen only when both sides understand that this demands compromise.... We are not holding a dialogue for the sake of dialogue; we must learn from past experience, and it is our responsibility to draw conclusions and to do the right thing... We have already experienced failure in the past and we don't want to go there again.


Honsestly, I didn't invent it. It was communicated by the Prime Minister's Office. The late Poli of the Gashah Hahiver comedy team would have appreciated that speech as the work of a master. Gashash had a routine based on a similar-sounding election campaign speech by a 1950's type Israel Labor party functionary, exhorting the party faithful to greater efforts, full of facts on the ground signifying nothing, and explaining that the situation today is more complex than ever. It always is, isn't it?

Zippy Tzipi is a much greater artist than the Gashash. She can make speeches like the above and nobody laughs. Everyone takes them seriously. Drama is a far more serious art than comedy. Philosophers and scientists have tried to understand history; Tzipi Livni's task is to make it meaningless. Post-structuralists and post-modernists merely dream of deconstructing meaning. Diplomats like Tzipi Livni are actually doing it.

The first rule for judging good bullsh*t is that it mustn't sound like bullsh*t. A Google search reveals 678 pages with "Situation on the Ground" and "Livni" in them.

Zippy Tzipi, where's the value added proposition? We all want to do the right thing. It's a no-win situation. You don't have to be a rocket scientist: The situation on the ground is that Israel builds settlements and the Palestinians fire rockets. Israel kills Palestinians who didn't fire rockets, and the other Palestinians fire more rockets. There is no need for more speeches for the sake of making speeches, or more dialogue for the sake of dialogue. You need to be proactive and empower the moderates. You must learn from past experience. It is time to start thinking out of the box, and to change the situation on the ground, though it is assuredly more complex than ever, as usual.

Ami Isseroff

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Original text copyright by the author and MidEastWeb for Coexistence, RA. Posted at MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log at http://www.mideastweb.org/log/archives/00000644.htm where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Distributed by MEW Newslist. Subscribe by e-mail to mew-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by email with this notice and link to and cite this article. Other uses by permission.

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