THE HUMAN FACTOR: The peace that never was

The Human Factor

The search for peace in the Middle East is the subject of this documentary directed by Dror Moreh. However, more than the account of the talks, “The Human Factor”—faithful to its title—focuses on the individuals who played a significant role in this attempt at reaching peace that was so close to success. Of course, the role of individuals in shaping social processes, in this case, political leaders, has always been a subject of debate among historians, political scientists, philosophers, and other analysts. At the same time, however, there are circumstances that not even the most skillful leader can control. The Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was killed by a right-wing extremist Jew. A few years later, Yasser Arafat died, without concluding the peace process initiated in the 1990s.

Left to Right: Yasser Arafat, Hosni Mubarak, Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres at Oslo B Summit – Washington, DC. Photo Credit – Israeli Government Press Office. Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the longest in recent history. At times, finding a solution to it seems all but illusory. However, with the end of the Cold War in 1991 that left the United States as the only surviving superpower, Washington attempted to play the role of peacemaker in the region. Attempts were made to arrange peace talks between Syria and Israel. Then the efforts focused on the Palestinian-Israeli situation.

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and U.S. President Bill Clinton at the White House

The film structure is based on interviews with the six members of the American team that negotiated and eventually facilitated the meetings between the Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Those skillful diplomats were Martin Indyk (twice ambassador to Israel), Gamal Helal (Arabic interpreter and Special Envoy to the Middle East), Aaron David Miller (long-time analyst for the State Department), Daniel Kurtze (who had been ambassador to Egypt and Israel), Robert Malley (Bill Clinton’s appointee for Arab-Israeli affairs), and Dennis Ross (adviser on the Middle East for four different American governments). Ross coined the term “human factor” about the importance of human contact during actual encounters, which made Moreh choose the title of his movie.

Even though we all know the end result of those attempts at peace in the Middle East, the director manages to introduce elements of surprise and suspense, thanks to the revelations made by the interviewees. That makes one of the interesting cinematic aspects of “The Human Factor”. Rabin, for instance, had some reservations regarding some formal aspects of his meeting with Arafat. He demanded that Arafat didn’t wear military uniform, a demand that the Palestinian leader at first rejected. He finally settled for a “safari-style” attire. What started as a strictly official affair without any sign of unnecessary warmth between the parties eventually evolved into an agreeable connection between the two leaders.

After the killing of Rabin, the talks would continue.  Israel’s Ehud Barak would make a proposal that Arafat wouldn’t accept because it was presented as an end to a conflict that still had many issues unanswered for Palestinians.  It would also leave the Temple Mount—a place sacred for Muslims—in Israeli hands. After the death of Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas became the Palestinian leader. But things have changed on both sides in terms of their internal politics. In Israel, the right became more and more influential, and the dominant presence of Benjamin Netanyahu as its leader is an indication of that. Religious parties and extreme right groups in the Jewish settlement have also increased their political weight. At the same time, the more liberal-minded Labour Party has lost influence. Palestine has experienced political changes, too: the secular PLO has had to cede some power to the Islamist Hamas in Gaza.

“We keep the (peace) process alive,” says one of the interviewees, “but that also keeps the status quo.” Another American negotiator is also candid about the U.S. role in the peace process, indicating that they are not really “honest brokers” since Israel is an ally. “We talk with the Israelis and try to persuade the Palestinians to accept those proposals. In a way, we are lawyers for the Israelis; there is no lawyer for the Palestinians in our team.”

“The Human Factor” is a documentary with many interesting behind-the-scenes revelations of the failed peace process, some anecdotes. It may also provide some insight for any future attempt at finding that elusive peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

A film that will appeal to those interested in contemporary international affairs, international politics, Jewish-Palestinian relations, and of course, the importance of human contact.

In English, Hebrew, and Arabic (English subtitles). Theatrical release: May 7, 2021. Duration: 118 min

By: Sergio Martinez – info@mtltimes.ca

Other articles from mtltimes.catotimes.caotttimes.ca

Escape from Auschwitz

ESCAPE FROM AUSCHWITZ: The fight for credibility

MANK
] Herman J. Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman) was also a friend of Marion Davies (Amanda Seyfried), in the background during the shooting of another film, who also happened to be William Randolph Hearst’s lover. Mank was writing the screenplay for “Citizen Kane”

MANK: The dark side of the dream factory

Collective

COLLECTIVE: Rampant corruption and courageous journalists

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on email
Email
Is it possible to get an A for a 5-paragraph essay assignment in 1 hour? We can safely say yes, a student can get an A+ mark if he turns to EduJungles


myths about food supplements

The most common myths about food supplements and their effects

Living a healthy life is now easier than ever thanks to the abundance of healthy food and supplement options that you can buy. In fact, the vitamins you need in your daily life can often be found inside a capsule or tablet. It’s thanks to food supplements that more and more people have access  Food

Montreal Festivals

It’s going to be an explosive summer with Montreal festivals

High vaccination rates, plus the low number of COVID-19 cases, equals the return of summer fun in Montreal which looks to be filled with Montreal festivals. The return of many of Montreal’s favourite artistic summer festivals, along with the introduction of 29 new unique cultural projects — which will run for a period of at

Mesclun Salads

Mesclun Salads – New Salad bar in St Laurent

Mesclun Salads – Priscilla Ponce was born in Chile, moved to Canada and settled in the Montreal suburb of Ville St. Laurent, where she still lives with her husband and children. Throughout her life in Montreal, she has worked in retail, in a number of restaurants as a waitress, and as a real estate broker.

SHAN Collection from Montreal

SHAN Collection from Montreal

Montreal is no slouch when it comes to the world of fashion and SHAN is certainly at the top of the list with every piece of its collections fully conceptualized and manufactured in Laval (Qc) Canada. While the house employs locally, nearly 65% of its product is exported internationally, in over 33 countries. This success

Medical marijuana for treatment

Medical marijuana for treatment. How can it cure my pain?

Medical Marijuana is like a jack of all trades, strange it may sound. Alongside its notorious myths around that, it is a weapon for high effects, many people are aware of its potent therapeutic properties. Yet, like other medical treatments, marijuana may not be the first-line choice of prescription but an alternative when other modalities

flights to Hawaii

Airline offers Canadians the most flights to Hawaii this winter

WestJet today announced significant growth to its Hawaii network, featuring more Dreamliner flight options from Western Canada to Maui and new non-stop service from Calgary to Kona and Lihue this winter. With 57 weekly roundtrip flights on 10 nonstop routes, WestJet offers more service between Canada and Hawaii than any other airline.  “With easing travel

Mtltimes Subscription

The latest on what’s moving Montreal and the world – delivered straight to your inbox