One of the compelling underlying themes of ‘The Wayward Spy’ is the decades-long paralysis of the Arab-Israel conflict. Here’s a seemingly perceptive quote by Michael Vaux, the book’s protaganist:
‘The Israelis are experts at prevaricating, playing for time. I don’t think they’ll ever come to terms with the Arabs until the Arabs themselves present a cogent, articulate argument.’ Vaux goes on to say he wants to help the Palestinians in their struggle for an autonomous homeland. Until, he suggests, ‘the West collectively decides to pressure the tough little bully of the neighborhood to comply with international law.’
The resumption of settlement construction on the West Bank and in east Jerusalem is a timely reminder perhaps that Israeli policy has never really changed–since the above quote by Vaux in the early 1990’s, the period covered by the novel. Plus ca change…
Chris Greene, a junior diplomat and MI6 operative who has just been posted to broiling Cairo, disagrees with his friend. ‘I believe that slowly but surely we are breaking the impasse…they’re talking about a road map now, a step-by-step process of building confidence and eventually working out a compromise.’
Vaux’s final take on the Middle East mess will surprise readers, as much perhaps as he surprises himself.