Huffpost Fifty
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Stanley K. Sheinbaum Headshot

Just Trying to Create a Little Peace and Justice in This Unjust World

Posted: Updated:

Los Angeles-based Stanley K. Sheinbaum was, in his "younger years," referred to as the head of the Malibu Mafia a self-styled group of L.A. Westside liberals active in Democratic politics which included his wife, Betty Warner Sheinbaum. He was also a key player in the original negotiations with then Palestinian President Yasser Arafat -- negotiations that eventually lead to the Camp David Agreements. The following is a compilation taken from the prologue and epilogue of his recently published memoir, Stanley K. Sheinbaum: A 20th Century Knight's Quest for Peace, Civil Liberties and Economic Justice. In this compilation, the 92-year-old Sheinbaum playfully and frankly deals with his advanced age and gradual disengagement from his highly-accomplished life.

Hi. I'm Stanley Sheinbaum, Stanley K. Sheinbaum, and I'm fading. Don't be too concerned. I plan to be around for a while longer, but after a long life during which I ate with and argued with, fought with and defended presidents and prime ministers, princesses and kings, movie stars, parliamentarians, priests, rabbis, imams, convicts and criminals, people with money beyond even your wildest dreams, and innumerable members of Congress, honest and dishonest, even a writer or two, all of it while just trying to create a little peace and justice in this unjust world, I now spend more and more time resting and reflecting on all those things I've done....

Okay, so I sleep a great deal, and my sleeping upsets a lot of people, but it doesn't upset me because when I sleep, I am most like I once was--aware, passionate and engaged! As my body declines my dreams become more vivid. I remember facts, events, everyday occurrences, and if I'm riding on a good dream, almost everything! I converse and argue with all the characters in my life. I sing my favorite songs from long ago. I actually do have answers to all the intractable problems I worked to solve when I was young. I bring peace to the Middle East; I design an economy that continues to create wealth without enormous income; I end war as a weapon of foreign policy; I even make love to Jean Harlow...more than once, mind you....

Sing, sing, sing, everybody start to sing like dee dee dee, bah bah bah dah. Now you're singin with a swing...

Last night, I convinced President Barack Obama to get up off his butt and start fighting--to try being a little more like Roosevelt, a courageous battler who stood up to the rich and powerful on behalf of the common man and stop acting like Kennedy--like a handsome, articulate, intelligent manikin with a beautiful, bright involved wife and two gorgeous, active, charming children, a man who fulfills many of our dreams but doesn't really get a whole lot done. On the other hand, who am I to be discussing reality? That's what Obama said to me: "Ha, who are you to be discussing reality, Sheinbaum? You're not even really talking to me." That was unfair. He knows I can't fight back against that argument.

... everybody start to sing like dee dee dee, bah bah bah dah. Now you're singin with a swing...

But I hung in there. "Obama, you ruled the White House and Congress too...nobody could have stopped you from truly pointing this country in a direction that's new."

And Obama said, "Wake up, old, old man! Do you truly think I could have pushed a 'Sheinbaum agenda' through Congress?"

I answered, "Yes I do, sir. At least when you started. But you only listened to the bankers and the Wall Street crowd. Go ahead and ignore me, Barack, but the people want jobs and dignity, they want their homes, they want us all to be more equal--one big American family. They want a life and they want someone to show them how to do all of this, to tell them they can have these things... don't ya' get it..."

"Okay, Sheinbaum, I'll try it your way."

"If it's not too late."

...dee dee dee, bah bah bah dah. Now you're singin with a swing...

Well, now you see how much fun it is to live my fantasy life. I just convinced Obama to put up a fight! I love it! I'm still involved. Now I've got to consider what else I can do. Keep pushing, keep pushing. It keeps me alive. I have to keep pushing or the outside will die.

...Oh 't ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it. 'T ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it...That's what gets results...

"Results, results...that's what my mother was always pounding into me. Results. Hated it. Hated her. For a long time I didn't listen, but when I got started, after I married Betty, the more I forged ahead, then the more courageous I became. Hey, for awhile there, I was the most hated Jew in America...by other Jews anyway. For talking with Arafat. But I didn't waste time agonizing. I brought enemies together because it was the thing to do and somebody needed to do it. It's fun. More fun than trying to get people to say they like you when they don't like you anyway."

'T ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it.

Jews...Jewish...Israel...I need to have a word with Netanyahu, "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, sir, Bibi! Listen! It's time to get this Middle East peace thing done. The Arab Spring? Its tides of change are not washing gently against Israeli shores. What in the hell are you waiting for?"

I'm as restless as a willow in a windstorm. I'm as jumpy as a puppet on a string. I'd say that I had spring fever, but I know it isn't spring...

"That's the problem, Bibi. It isn't really spring. More like late fall.

Now's the time before winter settles in, maybe a nuclear winter--one we won't forget. Are we blinded by the sandstorms of time? The horrors, yes, the horrors of what we've endured! We cannot forget. Never forget. But what is the lesson we're not to forget?"

I am starry-eyed and vaguely discontented, like a nightingale without a song to sing. Oh, why should I have spring fever, when it isn't even spring?

"Can't we give peace a chance, Bibi?"

"No."

"Can't we give a lot more in negotiations?"

"No."

I keep wishing I were somewhere else, walking down a strange new street...

"How long can we go on like this always saying, no?"

"Forever, if need be. Forever and then longer. Never forget!"

I guess some arguments I can't win, even in my fantasies. I truly am just a man. Weak and fallible. And in the end...

And in the end...does it matter? There's no heaven; no hell. Only the memories, thanks for the memories...Ah, why do Bob Hope and Barack Obama keep pushing into my riffs? I want Benny Goodman, Ella Fitzgerald, the Dorseys, Billy Holiday and, and Jean Harlow.

No! No, no more fantasy as the end draws near. I do not want Jean Harlow. I want Betty. Betty...

Some things that happened for the first time seem to be happening again...

"Ah, Betty, we did so many wonderful things, met so many wonderful people, went to so many wonderful places. They were real, weren't they? They really happened?"

"Yes, Stanley."

We seemed to float right through the air. Heavenly songs seemed to come from everywhere...

"But how did we do it? I'm just an ordinary guy."

"But a man with courage, the courage to try."

"I think it was more than that, Betty. I think it was you."

And now when there's moonglow, way up in the blue, I'll always remember that moonglow gave me you...

"Why, thank you, Stanley.

"No, thank you, Betty."

Credits:

Song credits are: "Sing, Sing, Sing," lyrics by Louis Prima, music by Ziggy Elman, 1936. "I Can't Get Started," lyrics by Ira Gershwin music by Vernon Duke, 1936. "It Might As Well Be Spring," lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, music by Richard Rodgers, 1945. "T'ain't What You Do It's the Way That You Do It," lyrics by Melvin "Sy" Oliver, music by James "Trummy" Young, 1937. "Thanks For The Memories," lyrics by Leo Robin, music by Ralph Rainger, 1938. "Where Or When," lyrics by Lorenz Hart, music by Richard Rodgers 1937. "Moonglow" lyrics by Edie DeLange, music by Will Hudson and Irving Mills.