A MEGAGAME ABOUT THE MIDDLE EAST
“Is it too much to hope that eventually Arabs and Jews will sit down in the same room?”
Ernest Bevin, Foreign Secretary
(London conference January 30th 1947)
”That would be too optimistic”
Emil Chamoun, Lebanese delegate
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Divided Land is a multi player committee game set in the chaos of the Palestine problem in 1947.
It is primarily a game about politics, and about the search for a solution to the troubles of that region of the Middle East for which Great Britain had assumed responsibility since December 9th 1917, when General Allenby’s troops received the surrender of Jerusalem from the defending Turkish forces.
The game consists of a number of teams representing different interests in the region (British, Jewish and Arab). It starts in March 1947. On February 14th Ernest Bevin has announced Great Britain’s intention of laying down the Mandate, and referring the Palestine problem to the fledgling United Nations, who will have the theoretical power to impose a solution if one cannot be found beforehand.
In the months before the end of the Mandate there is a frantic jockeying for position and influence, in a final attempt to force a solution before the problem is thrown to the new and unknown international organisation.
All the players have the same overall objectives, although they differ somewhat in how they interpret those objectives!
Very simply, the objectives are:
- a settlement of the Palestine problem that fulfils the team’s and the players’ personal objectives and yet is accepted by all other parties. This would mean that the United Nations doesn’t have to get involved.
- if they can’t achieve a settlement then they must have the most persuasive plan to put to the United Nations. If this plan is to recommend partition then they must include proposals for partition on a map.
- Finally the players will need to have plans (and preparations in hand) should the UN decision be unacceptable.
There are four phases to the game:
- Reading briefings and agreeing within the team what the ideal plan would be.
- Negotiations with other players and other actions as time progresses. Reactions to events on the ground. Negotiation can be secret or open; only the British home team has the authority to call an official round-the-table conference, although they can’t enforce attendance
- Preparation of a presentation to the United Nations (represented by umpires). This can be by individual teams or a number of teams together.
- Adjudication by the United Nations and deciding on your team’s reactions. Peace or war?
In its most simple form the game requires six teams and an umpire:
British Foreign Office
British Chiefs of Staff
Jewish extremists (Irgun)
However, the game can be extended with more players to represent some of the divisions within supposedly agreed factions. In the author’s personal opinion the game would work best with the following structure, and I have included briefs for each of these roles:
British Home Team
Chiefs of Staff
British Team in Palestine
High Commissioner for Palestine
Jewish Agency Moderate
Jewish Agency extreme Zionist
Arab League Team
Mufti of Jerusalem
Glubb Pasha (commander of the Arab Legion)
Umpires – 2 or 3