The Human Factor | Chicago Reader
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The Human Factor

Israeli nonfiction filmmaker Dror Moreh (The Gatekeepers) engages a hyperspecific political epoch as he features six U.S. negotiators who were working to broker peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors during the tail-end of George H.W. Bush’s presidency and for the duration of Bill Clinton’s two terms. This 2019 documentary is as straightforward as all that—and surprisingly engrossing, as the negotiators recount their experiences in an accessible and even entertaining way that makes the subject matter sound like the stuff of prestige television dramas as opposed to the wearisome theater of the global political stage. The envoys recount behind-the-scenes stories that reveal politics as being inane and often arbitrary: one of them talks about how venerated Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin required that PLO chairman Yasser Arafat not show up to their first meeting in a military uniform and kiss him on the cheeks. He then details the back-and-forth that went into making it happen, just one of many inconceivable tales that cast international politics in a new light. Less charmingly, the documentary examines the events of the 2000 Camp David Summit, when Clinton, Arafat, and then-Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak struggled to reach an agreement that would effectively end the long-standing Israeli–Palestinian conflict. The negotiators speak honestly and even emotionally about their successes, failures, and all that went on in between—ultimately politics is just people, and Moreh’s captivating documentary epitomizes that “human factor.”

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