Leonard Nimoy Invokes Classic Star Trek Episode In Plea For Middle East Peace

Today Star Trek’s Leonard Nimoy has taken on a big issue, that of peace in the Middle East. In plea to help move things forward between Israelis and Palestinians, Nimoy invoked the classic Star Trek episode "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield." Details below.


Nimoy invokes Star Trek for Middle East peace

Today Leonard Nimoy issued a letter in support of Americans For Peace Now, an organization dedicated to peace in the Middle East. The letter calls for a return to negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians and endorses the two state solution to the decades long stalemate. To help illustrate his point, Nimoy invoked a classic episode of Star Trek, saying:

You might recall the episode in the original Star Trek series called, "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield." Two men, half black, half white, are the last survivors of their peoples who have been at war with each other for thousands of years, yet the Enterprise crew could find no differences separating these two raging men.

But the antagonists were keenly aware of their differences–one man was white on the right side, the other was black on the right side. And they were prepared to battle to the death to defend the memory of their people who died from the atrocities committed by the other.

The story was a myth, of course, and by invoking it I don’t mean to belittle the very real issues that divide Israelis and Palestinians. What I do mean to suggest is that the time for recriminations is over. Assigning blame over all other priorities is self-defeating. Myth can be a snare. The two sides need our help to evade the snare and search for a way to compromise.

This is the message that Americans for Peace Now seeks to spread. I’m a strong supporter of APN and the work it does. It is a leading voice for Americans who support Israel and know that a negotiated peace will ensure Israel’s security, prosperity and continued viability as a Jewish and democratic state.

The season 3 episode "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield," written by Gene Coon (under the pseudonym Lee Cronin), is often cited as an example of how Star Trek would use allegory to take on big issues. In this case the issue of racism, which was hotly debated in 1960s America. Here is the key scene as described by Nimoy.

You can read Leonard Nimoy’s full letter at peacenow.org/leonard_nimoy.


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John E. Kirk
June 6, 2011 5:31 pm

Love this episode, much more than I did at 12 years old.

June 6, 2011 5:33 pm

Leonard, you are a great guy, but please….don’t.

June 6, 2011 5:40 pm

God, I worship this man

Commodore Mike of the Terran Empire
June 6, 2011 6:01 pm

That was the Best Ep of season 3 of TOS. Also the top 5 of all of TOS.
But in the Middle East it will pretty much be up to Palastine to call for peace. Israil has many times tried for peace but Palastine or at least the hard liners won’t stop till Isreal is wiped out.

Michael Hall
June 6, 2011 6:16 pm

Sorry, Mr. Nimoy. I respect you and Trek’s overall legacy in promoting peace through subtle allegory enormously. . . but “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” was about as subtle as a sledgehammer, almost entirely bereft of real wit or the complexities of America’s intractable issues regarding race. Good intentions may count for a lot, but what this episode demonstrates more than anything else is that by Trek’s third season even as gifted a writer/producer as Gene L. Coon was essentially running on empty.

(That said, as a fellow Jew I heartily concur with Nimoy’s urgent plea for sanity to return to the Middle East peace process. As heavy-handed as it is, LTBYLB is correct about this much: both sides will learn to live together, or they will certainly die together.)

June 6, 2011 6:30 pm

While it’s never been one of my favorite episodes it had the great Frank Gorshin in it. It was fun watching Frank run through the halls of the Enterprise at the end. Deck after deck, all exhausted in a very Gorshin way.

Thomas Jensen
June 6, 2011 6:34 pm

I respect Mr. Nimoy, but this call for peace is completely simplistic with regard to the episode. Historically, this land belongs to Israel and dividing the capital of the country won’t bring peace, but further calamity and destruction.

June 6, 2011 6:36 pm

Was Bele in danger of committing the ‘man act’ by transporting Loki across galaxy lines? Is that why his request was denied?

June 6, 2011 6:58 pm

I think this sweet. A sweet attempt.

June 6, 2011 7:12 pm

Thomas Jensen, your view of history is narrowsighted

June 6, 2011 7:20 pm

The approach the United States always holds is one of taking sides. If the peace process is to move forward, then it has to be a multilateral focus and not a “taking sides” process.

Hopefully a peaceful solution can be found without offending both sides. But it seems like an impossible task.

June 6, 2011 7:52 pm

The ‘Holy Land’ should be a neutral site belonging to no one state. make it the Organia of our planet.

Red Dead Ryan
June 6, 2011 7:54 pm

Actually, for a number of years now, the U.S has called for a two-state solution. The problem is Iran, who continues to arm Hezbollah and Hamas and vows to wipe out Israel with a nuclear bomb. I don’t think peace can exist until Iran is dealt with.

June 6, 2011 7:56 pm

Peace and Hope for the Future depends on each of us maturing beyond our pasts and our forebears shortsightedness.

Partly what STAR TREK is about.

June 6, 2011 8:27 pm

The allegory may be simplistic, but is that not the point? To encourage people to let go of group identity and see the people on the other side of the divide as being alike in humanity? Identity politics are always based on misplaced priorities and lies. Conflicts continue because we choose for them to continue.

June 6, 2011 8:33 pm
Hi folks: Seems to me many times actors and other people who are notable in the public’s view express their political views. I think it’s in bad taste. I won’t publicly take sides with what’s going on in the Middle East. I do know the cultures there are thousands of years old and are different than ours. It’s not just about borders. A lot of these cultures and peoples go beyond borders. I think the government of the United States has been wrong to interfere for so long since the 1950s and 60s and from then on in the 70s. We were wrong to think we could get petrol from there cheap and the peoples there were stupid and uncivilized. I think the government of the United States was very stupid to underestimate them and then give them weapons etc. This had a domino affect which added to the problems. It was no good for the Middle Eastern countries, including Israel. Slapping on democracy for to get petrol was wrong. Maybe we could have avoided 9/11. How many people have to die before we stop exploiting? Maybe Israel and the rest of the peoples of the Middle East have to solve their problems together without the US interfering and making things worse. As much as I applaud Leonard Nimoy’s intentions, he should keep his opinions to himself as a private citizen. If one wants to do what they can to help out in a humanitarian way in Middle East, that… Read more »
June 6, 2011 9:16 pm

Read all of the above posts, look in a mirror and tell yourself that we are not an insane species. Doomed for so many reasons that they are without measure, we will never learn to live together in peace. For some, including me, this is sad, tiring and depressing.

June 6, 2011 10:04 pm

“Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” is one of the episodes I cite to demonstrate that Star Trek is intelligent, that it has something important to say. Yes, it’s too literal. It’s not perfect. But the show was striving to say something important about prejudice. If we don’t deal with our hatreds, learn to get along, we may end up killing ourselves.

I applaud Leonard Nimoy for lending his voice to Americans For Peace Now. Peace in the Middle East could stem the tide of terrrorism.

Harry Ballz
June 6, 2011 10:16 pm

As soon as religious belief becomes involved, logic goes out the window.

Keachick (rose pinenut)
June 6, 2011 10:49 pm

“16. Jerry Silber – June 6, 2011
Hi folks: Seems to me many times actors and other people who are notable in the public’s view express their political views.
As much as I applaud Leonard Nimoy’s intentions, he should keep his opinions to himself as a private citizen.”

Unbelievable! I am not an American, but I have heard that you have a Constitution(?) which guarantees all its citizens right of freedom of speech and expression. I am also able to express my opinions about politics and religion in my country, even though we do not have the US Constitution here. Just what are you saying, Jerry Silber? That Leonard Nimoy should not say anything about an issue that causes him great concern, because it is “in bad taste”. What has his being an actor got to do with anything?

Perhaps I have this wrong, but I thought that the USA was supposed to be a democracy, similar to Britain or NZ.

Please – correct me if I am wrong.

Anyway, my meagre understanding is that the divisions began with the Romans burning down the Jewish temple in Jerusalem in about 70AD and kicking out the indigenous Jewish inhabitants from their land, causing the diaspora…
The increasing need for oil in the last 50 years, most of which comes from the Middle East, has complicated things, but whatever the problems have been/are between the Jews and Palestinians, I’m not sure they have much, if anything, to do with oil.

June 6, 2011 11:53 pm

If the Palestinians lay down their weapons there would be peace. If Israel lay down their weapons there would be bloodshed.

June 7, 2011 12:22 am

Conflicts, even the most complicated ones, originate from simple human motivation. In this respect, “Let that be your last battlefield” may have been a blatant, but nevertheless spot-on episode. And it shows how topical TOS was then and how prevailing its message is today.

June 7, 2011 12:59 am

“Let that Be Your Last Battlefield” was one of the times where low budget paid off as it suited the allegory. In the TNG era it would involve some variation of ridges.

It was not subtle, but it hit the underlying stupidity of these perceived differences and what they result in. The ludicrous makeup went a long way into illustrating the ludicrous ideas.

That said I won’t get political here as I’m sure this thread will erupt into a flame war shortly. Needless to say there is plenty of blame to go around on both sides of the I-P conflict in my opinion.

June 7, 2011 1:01 am

16. Carlin reference=AWESOMENESS (I love the Ten Commandments bit!)

June 7, 2011 2:41 am

Wise words from Leonard Nimoy. A radical change in US foreign policies benefitting Israel would also help…

June 7, 2011 2:53 am

When this ep first aired, the Six Day War was still fresh in the minds of all. Of course, the underlying conflict and bloodshed was already 3,000 years old (give or take a millennium.)
While I would be overjoyed to see a real peace process come to the region, I find it hard to believe it will happen. Netanyahu is not a peacemaker. He’s a soldier. The Palestinians hold too great a love for those who embrace terror tactics. It’s not a place for doves.
Having said all that, I can only wish all sides (including the idiots here in the US who have so much to lose from terror attacks and shooting wars) the best.
Whatever that is.

June 7, 2011 4:43 am

I think they all could move here to Brazil, where´s there´s plenty of land.

Besides, all those “hystorical” people they babble about never existed anyway. :P

June 7, 2011 5:03 am

I am not convinced that the episode was that lightweight.

The early ’60’s represented some of the best and worst of our history.

In a time when blacks only got half a bus (the backend), could only use segregated water fountains, could not sit at lunch counters…and on and on…maybe we needed a heavy handed message to get a point across.

Sometimes you have to use a railroad spike and sledge hammer instead of a pushpin.

June 7, 2011 6:20 am
#19–Harry, I am afraid the Middle East has very little to do with religion…it is much more basic than that: hate. While I am no expert (and obviously even the experts have no clue here) religion in the region has little bearing on either sides views (being a Jew does not mean you embrace the Jewish religion any more than being Arab means you follow Islam or either ethnic group follows any religion at all). As with most social/political issues this goes beyond religion in that we often share the same goals (in this case, peace) while disagreeing on how to achieve the desired goal. Religion may inform one’s opinion toward how to arrive at the stated goal (and in this case, most religions would agree peace is a good goal–individuals may not express their religion well but even atheists can be “irrational” if I understand your comment) but it is usually only a small part of the problem. I have known many families where there is no “peace” and religion does not have to have anything to do with it–so why expect nations or people groups to be any different. My faith teaches me that we all are flawed and contribute to the problems of the world…but it also teaches me that we can be a part of the solution and in that shared value I find Star Trek offers that same hope or ideal (although I might differ on how or why we get there). While there is… Read more »
DS9 Rocks
June 7, 2011 6:23 am

The end of Nimoy’s letter says: “…that a negotiated peace will ensure Israel’s security, prosperity and continued viability as a Jewish and democratic state.”

You know that in “diplomatic-speak” calling Israel a “Jewish state” already takes Israel’s side in the negotiations (i.e., by denying Palestinians the right of return, one of their cornerstone issues)? If that were solved, we’d be half way to peace (which may still be far, but closer).

For the record, I support Israel as a Jewish state (so, Nimoy’s letter is fine by me). But want to point this out.

DS9 Rocks
June 7, 2011 6:27 am

I also want to point out that this is probably the most civil discussion of Middle East and race on the Internet that I have ever seen.

Bravo, TrekMovie users!!

trekker 5
June 7, 2011 6:32 am

I support Israel!!

trekker 5
June 7, 2011 6:34 am

i also think it is very awesome that Mr.Nimoy would do this.

June 7, 2011 8:24 am

Why all the chatter about losing group identity? The lesson of WWI, which was applied after WWII, is that to avoid conflict we need to engage the people and move beyond looking at different groups as enemies. The Palastinian people need a brave leader who will stand up, speak for all their people, and say “no more missles, we have decided that peace is the better path”. It’s just silly to assume that the various ethnic identities of the world will collectively decide to discard who they are, it’s reasonable to expect that they will want to embrace the good, while leaving the bad behind. Those who fought world wars in the 20th century have figured it out, with different degrees of success, it’s not an unreasonable expectation for the Israelis and Palastinians, either.

June 7, 2011 8:56 am

The bias in his statement towards Israel being a Jewish state is significant. Why is it that no voices have ever stood up and said that Israel is an inherently flawed concept, conceived and executed at a time when the opinions and rights of those who were in that land – whether you believe them to be rightful residents of that land or not – did not matter, and it was more important for the religious right in the halls of US Government to ensure that Israel existed so that the Rapture could happen as prophecy dictated, as well as just wanting to have a base of operations in the area.

That doesn’t mean Israel should be shut down, god knows that can never happen now, but it might be a step in the right direction to admit that this has never been and still isn’t only about creating a Jewish nation.

The Geek that Gets Laid Often
June 7, 2011 9:04 am

Until the rest of the world agrees to view the government of Israel as just that; a government – not a creed and not a religion and not an extension of a people who were grossly disenfranchised in the first half of the last century, it will not be held accountable by much of the Western world who will continue to see any opposition to their policies as anti-Semitic or pro-Islam, pro-terrorist, etc. Indeed, many Palestinians who take up arms feel justified as their Apartheid-like existence seems A-OK with most of us here in the happy, democratic west, that continues to enable Israel’s government and turn a blind eye to its aggressive subjugation of all Palestinians.

Are there terrorist forces within the Palestinian community? You betcha, but history has shown time and again that meeting such resistance with oppressive force just fans the flames of hatred. If Israel’s government ever gets tired of sending kids out to fight an unending struggle, it’s going to have to make concessions. Then again, they could just say f*ck it and kick-start some old-fashioned genocide. Hmmm… decisions, decisions…

June 7, 2011 9:50 am

thats a good one

June 7, 2011 10:36 am

That episode was crap.

June 7, 2011 11:42 am

“Historically, this land belongs to Israel”

BZZZT, wrong.

Tanner Waterbury
June 7, 2011 1:47 pm

You know, I had an interesting thought: Suppose Bele and Loki arrived during the DS9 period, and Sisko were to settle the dispute. You’d think he’d react as calmly as Kirk when he found out that Bele was a hard driven racist?

June 7, 2011 2:13 pm

Perhaps the United States should threaten to cut off financial aid to Israel. Then perhaps the Israelis would be more willing to realistically negotiate with the Palestinians instead of one road block issue after another such as Israeli settlement incursion into Palestinian areas, the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their ancestoral homeland. These are only some of the burning issues, but Nimoy none the less isn’t the first celebrity to talk about the Arab/Israeli conflict and he certainly wont be the last.

June 7, 2011 3:21 pm

Enemies on all sides calling for your destruction…

…Iran going nuclear…

…a betrayal by the U.S. President….

…God help you Israel.

June 7, 2011 4:24 pm
Nothing wrong with any persons-famous or not bringing, up any issue and putting it out there for all of us to think about. I like to read what everybody said/wrote. And I read them all. In the theater Broadway Show piece called “Rent” it was said…”The opposite of war is not peace, it is creativity”. As an artist I relate. We all need to create our Peace as individuals and societies. In the case of Israel there is great history to show who was there, evidence to prove what was real, and agreement of those facts. But Peace can not be found there due to those who choose to ignore History and rewrite it as an insult to us all. Knowledge is power. We ALL need to have all the information at the same time so we can ALL agree and recognize right from wrong. P.S.- when the U.N. returned Israel to the Jews at the end of WWll it was the idea/plan/intent to give the defined shape/form/measured whole of Israel back to the Jews who lost it by enemies who forced them out like the Babilonians & the Romans. In the past when Israel was lost to the Jews and the Jews returned no one said block them or its ours not theirs. Everybody knew the Jews lost Israel and would be back for it when they could. And there was no challenge to Jews or Israel. Why is there such Arab hostility today when they called each other… Read more »
Battle-scarred Sciatica
June 7, 2011 5:04 pm


I am with you there Ballzy.

No matter what people say, religion always has something to do with everything. either that or claims of land ownership.

We truly are a royally screwed race who have set about the destruction of our only home and there are no other-worldly beings out there about to come and save us.

How wonderfully miserable.

But on the plus side my football team (Norwich City) got promoted to the Premiership. See- there is a light at the end of the tunnel!

Nimoy is a good bloke. I’d like to buy him a beer and talk about his hit “Bilbo Baggins”. Great stuff.

June 7, 2011 6:30 pm

Leonard’s always been a classy guy, and I’ve always appreciated that Trek Actors tend to be more than actors … they really tend to embody the same spirit and idealism that Roddenberry’s vision set out to use.

On an aside … man I loved Frank Gorshin in that episode. I recently re-watched some old ’66 Batman and had forgotten just how cool he was. Guy stole scenery from Cesar Romero’s Joker and Burgess Meredith’s Penguin like it was easy … you know he’s doing something right.

Think again
June 7, 2011 7:50 pm

Wow……I now respect this guy even more — if that’s possible. I especially appreciate how this respected Jewish American called for Israelis to stop building settlements on the land of a future Palestinian State. Israeli settlements are a serious obstacle to peace.

Live Long and Prosper

June 7, 2011 9:18 pm
Hi folks: It was perceived I was trying to gag Mr. Nimoy on his opinion of the situation with Israel, the Palestinians, Middle East, and the organization he feels represents his point of view. We are fortunate to have the freedoms in the United States and other countries with democracies. We can anything we damned well please. Still, I feel there is a level of responsibility someone such as Leonard Nimoy has in his position. If he were Leonard Nimoy – ordinary person, we wouldn’t care as much. Mr. Nimoy is a public figure and has a responsibility to not take sides. As I mentioned in my post, there are so many people “popping off” thinking what they have to say is so important. I have my P.O.V, but the point is the situation in the Middle East is very precarious. As it is in Israel, not all Israelis agree on how to solve their situation with the Palestinians. The Israeli government is trying to make a decent attempt. Israel is a democratic country. Not all Israelis are angels, murderers, crazies, etc. Same holds true for the Palestinians. Countries outside of the Middle East should not complicate things with their own agendas. All parties involved should be held accountable equally. If Mr. Nimoy feels he wants to endorse something in particular, do it as a private citizen. Don’t throw in an episode of Trek to think it’s the way to solve the situation. No – it isn’t. Sorry – it… Read more »
Keachick (rose pinenut)
June 8, 2011 12:04 am
“Still, I feel there is a level of responsibility someone such as Leonard Nimoy has in his position. If he were Leonard Nimoy – ordinary person, we wouldn’t care as much. Mr. Nimoy is a public figure and has a responsibility to not take sides. As I mentioned in my post, there are so many people “popping off” thinking what they have to say is so important.” “…so many people “popping off” thinking…” Yes. That’s the nature of democracy, for better and/or worse. What about the level of responsibility Nimoy, or anybody else for that matter, may feel he has that means he has a need to speak out on issues that cause him great concern? It is just as possible that he (Nimoy) may feel he is abrogating his responsibility as a Jew, as a citizen living in a democracy and indeed of the world, not to say something, not to seek to find a way of helping solve problems even if it is using an episode from a television programme that is relevant to what is happening now. It is extraordinarily difficult for anyone to remain completely and resolutely neutral, unless they chose to remain totally ignorant of anything to do with an issue. Most people will naturally lean towards one side or another and it is only natural that Leonard Nimoy’s concern would be for Israel, first and foremost, a nation he shares a history, a racial, cultural and religious ancestry. However, I also think he is… Read more »
June 8, 2011 7:24 am

@48. Don’t think I’d agree that a celebrity has an obligation to remain neutral. I say “celebrity” because we have lots of examples of famous people spouting off about a subject they know nothing about, or are horriblly mis-informed about the topic they profess to embrace. Having said that I doubt that Mr. Nimoy falls into that catagory, and as such I respect his opinion. I have no issue supporting Israel, for one reason only, they are the only functioning democracy in the reason. Likewise, there is reason for thoughtful people like Mr. Nimoy to speak out now – to engage those involved in the “Arab Spring” uprisings, to encourage them to also embrace democracy. Sure, the transition will have problems, but everyone in the reagion will be better for it in the long haul.

Oh, and the UN is fairly dysfunctional. Case in point, NPR pointed out a few days ago that Syria was supposed to assume a leadership role on the UN’s Human Rights Council. Enough said.

The Geek that Gets Laid Often
June 8, 2011 8:36 am

The UN was robbed of much of its clout when the US, under George W. Bush, basically told the world that the collective opinions of its member states didn’t matter (in regard to the Iraq War).

The UN as a body is only as powerful as we perceive it to be. If we all say it’s worthless, then it is, and the word is a much poorer place for it.