The Human Factor

In Theaters 5/7.

Kent's Take:

Jews and Arabs have fought over a small strip of land for over 100 years. Their conflict is the most violent conflicts in modern times.

“The Human Factor” takes a look at the various peace agreements and the related negotiations beginning in 1991.

George H.W. Bush was president and his Secretary of State James Baker was very effective in his position, for he knew how to manipulate power.

Words hold power when used properly and they must be used effectively in negotiations.

One hurdle with negotiating peace in the Middle East comes in the differing views of the future. Jews look toward the future, unfettered by the past, while Arabs feel they must settle the past before they can look toward the future. That is the curse of the Middle East – they dwell on the past.

Baker forged a tentative peace agreement, but before it could bear fruit, Bush lost his re-election – Baker was out.

Now the Clinton administration took a new angle with Israel’s Yitzhak Rabin and Chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Yasser Arafat.

Following the Clinton administration’s negotiations throughout Clinton’s 8 years in office with the various Israeli leaders; Rabin and Arafat, Benjamin Netanyahu and Arafat and Ehud Barak and Arafat is fascinating as the personalities of each Israeli Prime Minister greatly affects the success or failures of the negotiations. This inside glimpse at international negotiations reveals both the ridiculousness and the very sobering repercussions of nationalism, history, culture and humanity.

The documentary peels back the façade and shows the struggles negotiators faced, the successes, failures, strengths and weaknesses and how fate has played such a pivotal role in the Middle East peace process.

Writer/director Dror Moreh follows the edict of this documentary that for every negotiation to be successful the seeds of trust must be sewn. Here, Moreh simply reveals the beauty and ugliness of the peace negotiations. This film has no political slant portraying both Democrats and Republican’s successes and failures, but orients them within an arena of international negotiations rather than a political one. The result is an honest, riveting narrative of heart-breaking near misses on peace in the Middle East.

This all-important “Human Factor” cannot be ignored. Although these men represent their respective nations, they still have individual reactions, opinions and thoughts that affect the peace process and the directions of their nations.

Audiences have no choice but to see the humanity within the players in this ongoing tragedy. This frankness, self-awareness and honesty impart viewers with a unique perspective in regards to an important cross-section of history.

“The Human Factor” is a must-see documentary that beautifully outlines the reasons for success and failure in the ongoing struggles to find peace in the Middle East.

Lynn’s Take:

The complicated history of the Israel-Arab conflicts is explored in this thorough and engrossing documentary.

“The Human Factor” takes a deeper dive into the personalities involved and how that affected the persuasive efforts to change hearts and minds.

By interviewing go-between Dennis Ross – who worked under four presidential administrations, Gamal Helal, Martin Indyk, Daniel Kurtzer, Robert Malley and Aaron Miller, we get different perspectives that add depth to the historical records. All accomplished diplomats, they shed light on the process that helps us to understand where and why things go wrong.

Moreh, an Oscar nominated Israeli film director for “The Gatekeepers” (2012), co-wrote the script with Oron Adar. They start out with Secretary of State James Baker, under President George H. W. Bush, and mainly concentrate on the impact of the Bill Clinton years. After the botched deal at Camp David in 2000, they wrap up the next 20 years in a montage rundown.

The U.S. has been so close, but today, it seems like peace between the countries seems more impossible than ever. And the former diplomats candidly share their frustrations.

What we thought was a breakthrough turned out not be what everyone assumed at the Oslo Accords in 1993.That agreement between Yasser Arafat, chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization from 1969 to 2004, and Israel Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (’74-’77 and ’92-95), lead to a Nobel Peace Prize in 1994, and then signed in 1995. But it did not result in peace. Rabin was assassinated two months later on Nov. 4, 1995.

Since then, five different men have served as prime minister of Israel: Shimon Peres, Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert. and attempts to reach peace have failed.

The men in the rooms where it happened point out the missed opportunities, what happened with Syria and the PLO, and the complexities involved because of the region’s intricate history.

They could still be talking now, but the film smartly ends at 1 hour, 48 minutes, and is a story well-told. Moreh has gathered copious amounts of archival footage for the historical details.

A history, geography, political science and psychology class all at once, “The Human Factor” shows why there is no easy solution for sustainable peace in the Middle East.