Were you aware the primary negotiations that led to the famous 1993 White House signing of peace accords between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization between Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, and Yasser Arafat was negotiated in secret in Norway? Neither did the Norwegian government at the start of the process nor the US until late in the process. This film was released days after the latest cease-fire in Israel and explorers how the Oslo Peace Accords happened. Ruth Wilson portrays Norwegian diplomat Mona Juul and Andrew Scott portrays her husband Terje Rød-Larsen the head of the Fafo Institute. The Fafo Institute is a research organization focused on international peace and hosted the Oslo peace accords.
In the weeks leading up to this film’s release, there was fighting between Israel and Palestine, so that part of the world was on many people’s minds. Discussing Israel is always going to be challenging because someone will always disagree with you. This film has the benefit of recounting historic events, but it still took a tactful hand. Juul and Rød-Larsen were not part of the peace talks initially according to the film. They were facilitators but were left outside of the room where the negotiations happened. The camera never enters the negotiating room without Juul or Rød-Larsen lending a level of credibility to the story. It also allowed the writers to skip writing speculative negotiation dialog that may have caused controversy.
The scenes that do involve Israeli representatives talking to members of the PLO are fascinating. They are the closest thing to mortal enemies. The PLO members don’t live in Israel, and it was illegal for Israeli government officials to meet with members of the PLO when these talks happened. The writer, J.T. Rogers originally made this as a play. He is masterful at having his characters challenge each other’s thought processes and preconceived notions. I love when someone constructively challenges my view on a topic. It makes me think more deeply about why I hold the view I do and can even change that view with a new perspective. You can see this all happen on screen between all the characters. There is one scene where the PLO thinks it is stupid to discuss if the PLO government will collect trash from Israeli citizens. The Israeli representative confronts them with the fact that these details are exactly what a government must do.
I enjoy learning about history through film. This was a wonderful look inside of a peace process that happened when I was five but still has repercussions today. Israeli-Palestinian politics are intertwined with US politics, and it is important to see how other nations have also been involved in the process. In addition to the history lesson, this film is a great example of when to get involved in a discussion, when to facilitate, and when to take time for self-reflection. If a semblance of peace can happen in one of the most hotly contested regions of the world, then you should be able to compromise at work and home with some diplomacy of your own.