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Israel-Palestine, Two Peoples, Two States for One Peace 2009

Highly Recommended

Distributed by Filmakers Library, 124 East 40th Street, New York, NY 10016; 202-808-4980
Produced by Nicholas Wadimoff & Chlotilde Warin
Directed by Nicholas Wadimoff
DVD, color, 88 min.

High School - General Adult
Middle East Studies, Jewish Studies

Date Entered: 06/27/2011

Reviewed by Sheila Intner, Professor Emerita, Graduate School of Library & Information Science, Simmons College GSLIS at Mt. Holyoke, South Hadley, MA

Why wasn’t this documentary brought to our attention sooner? Although we hear the phrase “Geneva Accord” used frequently, why hasn’t the viewing public been educated to understand more about this unofficial, secretly conducted initiative, which took place nearly a decade ago in 2002? The process by which its peace plan was drafted is shown plainly in this riveting video. It is living proof that Israelis and Palestinians can agree on a two-state solution. That no such plan has been officially concluded and that, in 2011, we appear to be farther than ever from peace between Israel and the Palestinians should sadden good people everywhere and cause them to demand more and better action on the part of their governments.

Before proceeding to a summary and evaluation of the content of the film, its technical excellence should be mentioned. Camerawork is outstanding. Vivid scenes of the negotiations are interspersed seamlessly with small group conversations, single person segments, and a small number of shots of maps and archival clips that illuminate and explain selected matters at points when a picture is worth a thousand words. Excellent subtitles aid following speakers who might otherwise be hard to understand.

The Geneva Initiative was the brainchild of Professor Alexis Keller, a political science professor at the University of Geneva. He gathered two delegations, one Israeli, led by Yossi Beilin, and one Palestinian, led by Yasser Abed Rabbo, and charged them with drafting a two-state peace plan. The delegations met over a period of two years in Europe, Egypt, Jordan, and Israel, hammering out a plan that later became known as the Geneva Accord.

Five areas of conflict were explored during the talks: territory; security; prisoners; Jerusalem; and refugees. The differing views, ideas, and interpretations of the facts held by each delegation are revealed, enabling viewers to see how the resolutions contained in the signed draft developed—some requiring the help of outside experts. Brief analyses of the history, political, economic, and religious importance of each problem area give viewers a better understanding of the difficulty of achieving agreement. Two participants—Israeli Daniel Levy and Palestinian Ghaith Al-Omari—provide summaries at various points during the film. Despite the obstacles, agreement was achieved.

That was then. Does the success of the Geneva Initiative have even a small prayer of flourishing today? Different political administrations now govern in Israel and the Palestinian Territories. Years of continued conflict, violence, and hatred between the two peoples have passed. The entire Middle East—not just Israel and the Palestinian Territories—is embroiled in political upheaval. But if agreement could be reached once, why can’t it happen again? Viewers of this documentary ought to demand an answer to that question.

Highly recommended.