Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Weird Science

L.B. Weird Science, Left Behind pp. 6-8 and L.B. Peace in the Middle East, Left Behind, pp. 8-9.

Pete had been in Israel during the attack for an interview with Fyvush Goldstein, a chemist that had been chosen as the National View's Person of the Year after arduous conversation by the editorial staff. True, Pete hadn't technically been privy to that meeting but it was hard not to know what was going on when you could hear the managing editor screaming "But he's only a chemist!" from the newsroom.

Goldstein had sneaked into the spot for two reasons. First, no one could deny that he was an important chemist. He'd been responsible for the major biotech advances that Israel had been making in the last five years. Not personally, of course, but through his position as trusted science adviser to the Prime Minister.

For example, Israel's recent focus on hydroponics had spawned several large state sponsored agriculture projects in the previously desolate areas on the eastern edge of the country. They already grew more produce in a year than Brazil did, and just before Pete's trip they'd announced several more installations.

He'd also overseen the establishment of Israel's in vitro meat program, which had been established much more quickly and much more effectively than anyone had predicted. True, a few rabbis had declared that the non-animal meat wasn't kosher, but that was just a small segment of Israel; religious hardliners and the majority of Jews agreed that the new product was kosher as pickles.

The real reason that he'd been nominated was because of his surprisingly effective social efforts. Goldstein had hired and trained many Palestinians and used his connections to guarantee their passage into Israel proper. When his programs started to pay off to the tune of millions of dollars in grants and technology patents, not to mention the profits from the sales of the produce themselves, he hired even more Palestinians to work alongside their Israeli counterparts. When the conservatives had complained, Goldstein would point to his massive successes, and then call in his government support to back him up.

Attacks in Israel had slowly declined. Hamas had eventually renounced violence, especially since Palestinians were among those now being killed in the Tel Aviv bombings. With better security came looser travel restrictions and what could, in the next few years, become the implementation of a two state strategy for peace.

True, things weren't perfect. There were still problems with Zionist expansion on the West Bank, and there was still the occasional bombing but things were looking so much more positive now that Palestinians didn't have to resort to suicide bombings to feed their families. Goldstein himself had ironically become a popular figure among the younger Palestinians due to circulating rumors that he stood up to the Israeli government to make sure that Palestinian innovations resulted in patents held by Palestinian citizens.

There was also Nobel Peace Prize buzz in the air. As much as some of the editors railed for some actor or politician, at the end of the day it was Fyvush Goldsteing that got the profile.

Fyvush had met Pete in his house, a modest building not too far from the presumed border between Israel and Palestine. Two graduate students were hunched over a set of plans in his office, arguing loudly. One was Israeli, one was Palestinian, but they weren't consumed with political differences but rather differences of opinion on the design of a new air compressor for a new hydroponics installation.

"I hear you want to talk with me about my fascination with Romanian opera," Goldstein had said with sparkling eyes as they finally sat down.

Pete had been amazed at the Professor's self effacement. He called the hydroponics and in vitro meat programs "the result of scientists far more brilliant than I" and described his hiring practices as "the best effort of a single man." He completely discounted his role in the reduction of violence. "The current political situation is something that hundreds, if not thousands, of people have been working toward for years. To say that I had more influence had more than all of the people that have come before me is beyond the realm of possibility, and dismissive to their hard work. I simply do what I can, and if I manage to influence a few people's perceptions, that will be enough for me."

Goldstein had gone on to win that Nobel prize, and hadn't touched a cent of the money. He'd set up scholarships with it instead, and used his speech to try to rally people to environmental and social causes that they believed in.

Pete's profile on Goldstein had been a high point in his career. Now on his way to London, he was hoping to see a few old friends on his way to do an interview with the British Education Secretary about the vocational programs that they were hoping to sell to failing American school systems. Not nearly so exciting, but at least the job gave him free reign to travel and talk to interesting people.

He checked his email, checked the East coast time on his watch, and tried to figure out how much longer this flight was going to be.

Pete sighed and sunk back in his chair. At least he was in business class.


Anonymous said...

It's back! Excellent!

Kudos for reworking the "Israel is at peace with her neighbours" situation to make it decently plausible.

Nenya said...

You've come up with an explanation for how greening the desert could result in peace. Neat.

Plus Pete apparently actually files stories, and doesn't claim to be all GIRAT about it.

I seriously would read books written by the RBers....