The Impossible Brief is a ‘competition’ started by the advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi which calls for, (and I quote) “Out of the Box solutions”, “for how to bring the Israelis and Palestinians closer together”.
I came across this page (via Facebook) several months ago and have been intrigued since then. I’ve mulled over many an idea since then, from the ludicrous (arbitrarily give everyone in the region citizenship somewhere else) to the totalitarian (Gaza Wall, perhaps?) to the Orwellian (swear and get life imprisonment) to the hippie ( give everyone a guitar). But that’s all I’ve been doing. mulling.
Until today. Today I decided to get off my arse, sit down (yes, yes, funny) and write down my response to the Impossible Brief, as after the break:
The Arab-Israeli conflict is older than a lot of history. Any conflict on that scale obviously precludes the presence of rationality and logic to a large extent, i.e. it is an emotional thing. For the greatest emotional fight ever, we need the greatest romantic solution. ever.
With that, I draw your attention to the example of the FIFA 2010 Football World Cup in South Africa. This World Cup was one that veritably transcended the idea of a host nation, and became about Africa itself. It brought together a troubled continent for a month’s worth of unity and joy, which we all hope will sustain itself in the future.
Hence, the Ultimate Solution (obviously) to the Impossible Brief, would be:
1. Have FIFA select the Palestinian Territories and Israel as the site for the 2022 World Cup. I have selected this year with a reason. Kids and young teens today will be footballers in 12 years. Having grown up over more than a decade knowing of their ‘tryst with destiny’, to borrow the title of an old speech.
2. Israel and the Palestinian territories will field a unified team, in a new kit, under a new flag and with a new anthem. The fate of the new symbols can be decided after the tournament.
3. Security arrangements will be funded by appropriations from the defense budgets of both nations.
4. Area beautification, gardening and landscaping which would eventually follow the tide of infrastructure development to be done by volunteers.
5. Visitors, players and tourists alike, will require a special “World Cup Visa” jointly issued by both nations.
6. The theme for the entire World Cup will be “Unity”. All symbols of the World Cup, from the logo to the mascot to the ball itself will a) reflect this theme and b) be designed and created locally and jointly by the Israelis and Palestinians. No multinationals.
Thats about it. That is my challenge to both nations. To come together, to be a real-life “Remember the Titans” or a “Coach Carter” and host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. If you want a hint of what it can do, 2010 South Africa is probably the tip of the iceberg.
Can it fail? Yes. Is it a massive invitation to those who would be violent? Yes. Is the cost of failure or violence at such an event, with such stakes, unimaginable? Almost yes.
But the reward would be worth it. In things like this, they always are. Remember 2010.