The Little Engine Who Took His Place in the Underclass

And other new-millennium stories for American kids

It's easy to complain, yet not so easy to offer solutions. I did a column on the Middle East a few weeks ago that wasn't exactly brimming with solutions, aside from the long-range, touchy-feely one that we U.S. citizens ought to become more even-handed in our regard for the opposing sides, and even that was enough to have some readers branding me a Jew-hater.

To the contrary, I think humanity would be in a sorry state were it not for the moral, civilizing influence of Jewish philosophers and artists—from Baruch Spinoza through Lenny Bruce—and I think that is part of Israel's problem today. If they had seized their country back when everybody else was doing it—before about 1900—they'd rule it, no questions asked. But Jewish thinkers have played such a large part in advancing humanity's regard for decency, truth and reason that it's harder these days to subscribe to the self-serving lies that conquering nations traditionally used to justify their acts.

Whose land is it? You could go back to when creatures first crawled from the sea, and they'd still be arguing over it. My guess is that most Israelis and Palestinians just want to get on with living, and it's the assholes on the extremes who keep pushing things to an ugly head, whether it's with pipe bombs or U.S.-made helicopters, and it's with those folks in mind that I'd like to propose A SOLUTION: douse the whole region in Ecstasy, and keep it doused. After a few weeks of rubbing up against one another and exchanging moist endearments, then let everyone come out of their group hug and sort things out. I typically wouldn't ever recommend dosing anyone without their consent, but it's a better option than all the munitions we send over.

Just in case Lost in OC is your sole source of Middle East news, I'd like to note an update: while I cited the initial reports of as many as 500 dead in Jenin—and Israel subsequently refused to allow the U.N. investigators it said it welcomed to do their jobs—credible human-rights organizations have thus far substantiated only 54 deaths. There are claims of more dead buried under rubble and of Israeli refrigeration trucks hauling bodies away, but Amnesty International and others are now doubting it amounted to a massacre, though they are claiming instances of war crimes. Though downsized, there's still more than enough murder and misery to go around.

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