Peace Treaty

 An audience participation Play which gets Audience and actors involved in formulating a “real” Peace Treaty

The Theatre Group Newsboy [who deal with human rights theatre] have twice had rehearsed readings of a scene from Peace Treaty as part of their Theatre nights. They are an excellent group to work with.

 

STAGE SETTINGS.

It may be a good idea to have photographs all around the stage area – at different heights – that show scenes of Israeli and Palestinian suffering-showing why a Peace Deal is necessary. It might even be possible to have bright flashes of light and sounds of gunfire for four minutes before the Play starts.

 

Looking for the truth

Some “helpful?!” tips from the actors.

[Two male actors and two female actors who “chat” to the audience]

Samuel. In a few moments you will be presented with some “Facts”. Of course, in everyday life, even facts, of course, can lie when taken out of context. Or, when someone only deals with one set of facts and ignores another. These facts are later on changed by different groups who have different agendas in mind. Those arguing do not need to lie, though lying is used occasionally by the Press, a lot can be achieved by careful sifting, by exaggeration, and by the copious use of inflammatory adjectives.

Cindy. For this debate, discussion? argument!? melding of minds! to work, however, the “Facts” that you encounter must be taken as absolutely True! We must consider the impact of these Facts and not merely argue about whether the events happened or not. Most of the time in discussions is spent by people arguing about what happened, and when, and to whom, and how badly. We will limit our discussion to looking at how different Groups disagree about what action is appropriate in a certain context. That will simplify our job and hopefully will allow some proper analysis of the subjects of Truth and Conflict. And by “Conflict”, I mean everything from War to Domestic Disputes.

Linda. We are going to be involved in a genuine attempt to learn about Truth and Conflict. This may sound a bit pretentious, but we take decisions each day, and our leaders do too, based on the imagined idea that we do have some knowledge of Truth and Conflict.

Samuel. Well, perhaps we should enter this Debate by first laying out our own predilections, beliefs, and opinions-even if only to ourselves. I, for instance, am what would be called “Pro-Palestinian”. By that I mean that I believe that Palestinians are often discriminated against in Israel. It does not mean that I support every claim made by a Palestinian Group or approve of every action taken by a Palestinian Group. For me, the “Palestinian question” is one of Human Rights, and theories like “Zionism” or arguments based on ideas about God do not carry much weight on my Moral Scales.

Linda. And it is my opinion that the correctness, or otherwise, of a moral situation is not always apparent to everyone. Slavery was once “acceptable” to many intelligent concerned people in the Western World. To me, animals should have the right not to be harmed. That is self evident. But most people in the world do not see this important matter the way I see it.

Cindy. Well I also think that Groups discussing Human Rights concerns should avoid using God to prove or disprove matters. Different Groups use their own God to prove their own theories of how things should be. And many people, like me, don’t believe that there is any prove at all that any God exists.

Samuel. So, tell me, what criteria can we use? Do we rely on Historical and Cultural truths? On who won battles in the past? Do we trust in the Laws that are already in place in a Country’s Constitution-even if they are bigoted and cruel Laws? Do we trust in Laws developed by the United Nations and by other International Human Rights Legal Agencies?

Cindy. Or do we trust in a Philosopher’s favourite theory-say Contract, Rights Based, or Utilitarianist?

Linda. I think that Peace Deals are very dependant on the people who are representing the opposing sides in the talks. Talks often need the right people on both sides, as well as both sides needing to see the strategic situation as ripe for a Treaty.

Samuel. The “Facts” you will see are not open to dispute. The mechanisms for debate though are entirely open for you – the audience – to decide which ones to choose. Even if you have never heard the name of any theories -you will be working with your own theories – some broadly correct, others, perhaps, based on prejudice and misunderstanding.

Linda. Whatever we do, we must try not to denigrate anyone who takes an opposing view to us. We must always respect another’s opinions-even if we argue against them. In a debate we can either argue for “our” Position, or we can try to find out by investigation what is “Fair” or what is, “the truth”. We must not get carried away with emotions-even though when we argue for something, it is often something that is very important to us. We must try to put ourselves into “another’s shoes”.

Samuel. The “Facts” we will now present to you are a three week snapshot of events in a small area of Israel. You, like everyone else, will look at the events to see who “started it”. But most initial events have other initial events that caused them.

THE FACTS.

Cast. One male actor. One female actor.

[As the actors first enter the Performance space, they give out A4 laminated cards to the audience. Each will have seven phrases written on it i.e. “no violence”, “According to the Law”, “Empowerment”, “Equality for all”, “Justice”, “Fairness” “No Opposition”.]

[Female actor, friendly voice]

We are going to touch on the subject of Peace, and how we can try to find it. You all have cards with seven different phrases on it. Each describes a possible prime requirement for Peace. Take a minute and read them all. [after 30 seconds] Think carefully about which one is the most important. Now, I want every one of you to shout out as loud as you can –on the count of three-the phrase you have mentally picked as the most important. You all need to shout out loud for this to work. So, lungs ready, One Two Three! [she gestures at the audience to shout out loud]

As you have just found out, the search for peace can bring Chaos. We did this to show you that Chaos resulted even though you all picked well, as best as you could. Yet, you all disagreed. You all have a different idea of what is needed to find peace.

[Two Poems: At this point in the play the actors read one poem by an Israeli Poet and then one poem by a Palestinian poet. This is to get the audience seeing each side as real people with real concerns that should be able to reach beyond having to cope with War.]

[Both actors now stand next to each other in front of the audience. They are high up – on chairs for example.]

[read by male actor in a flat disinterested voice] Here are the facts. This really happened.

May 5th. Israel reports that it is arresting suspected Islamic militants. Some Children are killed in the raids into a Refugee camp. Two Palestinian gunmen are killed. Israel claims the raids are necessary to foil a possible future terrorist attack.

[read by female actor in a flat disinterested voice] Here are the facts. This really happened.

May 12th. A report is issued which shows that 20% of young people in the refugee camp are infested with intestinal worms, from having sewage contaminate food and water supplies. 50% of those children do not have access to a proper education. Unemployment rates are three times the national average.

[read by male actor in the voice of an excitable children’s T.V. presenter]

May 20th A suicide bomber kills himself and ten people – two of whom are soldiers – on a bus. All the victims are Jewish. Three victims are young children. Israeli bulldozers destroy the homes of people who live in the next block to the bomber.

[read by female actor in the voice of an excitable children’s T.V. presenter]

May 25th. A Peace Conference is cancelled because of claim and counter claim of alleged violent activities by both sides in the dispute.

[Two tables with radio announcers at them. Both face the audience. One has a card saying Israeli Government spokesperson. The other has a card saying, Palestinian Underground Radio.]

 

[Israeli Government spokesperson: male actor, his voice filled with anger:]

May 5th. Israel must defend its borders against outside aggression. Today we are hunting down Islamic Fundamentalists who oppose the Israeli people’s desire for Peace and Democracy. Who deny even our right to exist. We will stop at nothing till we have ensured safety for all our people. Terrorism must be destroyed.  We will have Peace whatever the cost. We have for years tried to talk to those who have attacked us in our homes. Enough is enough. The time has come for action.

[Palestinian Underground Radio: Female actor, her voice filled with hurt and indignation]

May 5th Today, two children were murdered by Israeli soldiers. Their families were at a birthday party when a mortar shell landed in the middle of the room. Two freedom fighters for Palestine were captured while trying to protect the area from Israeli attacks. They were then executed while still under arrest. It is expected that these crimes against the Palestinian people will not go unpunished.

The Israeli army have arrested over one hundred innocent people. They are being held without charge. Torture is the least they can expect.

[Palestinian Underground Radio: Female actor, her voice filled with hurt and indignation.]

May 12th.  Today, an Independent Report has been issued which shows that 20% of young people in the Refugee camp are infested with intestinal worms because sewage contaminates our water. 50% of our children do not have access to a proper education. Unemployment rates here are three times the national average. Our people do not even have the most basic Rights. The Right to Work. The Right to have access to clean water. The Right not to be subjected to arbitrary arrest….

[Israel Government spokesperson: male actor, his voice filled with indignation]

May 12th. A fortune is being wasted on Palestinian housing. The money is being redirected to fund those who support terror. Why should we pay to support those who would deny our Right to exist? We believe that the Israeli Government fully fulfils its duty of care to those who live within its borders. Palestinian groups will try and twist statistics to suit their distorted view of things. Those who walk the road of disharmony will not hesitate to tell lies. There are three separate Scientific Reports that prove that conditions are perfectly adequate in these Camps.

[Palestinian Radio: Female actor, her voice shaking with emotion.]

May 20th. A martyr has achieved revenge for the killings of the two innocent children. Chaos struck the centre of Tel Aviv when a young man gave his life for the freedom of his people. Prayers are asked for the Martyr and his family. Perhaps now the Israeli people will understand that we will not be treated like animals. However, as we go on air we hear reports that Israeli bulldozers are tearing down the homes of anyone who lived near to the Martyred hero.

[Israel Government spokesperson: his voice filled with hurt and anger.]

May 20th Today, a madman travelled from his safe refuge in the nearby refugee camp and slaughtered ten innocent people travelling on a bus. This cowardly terrorist was disguised as a woman. Two brave soldiers were amongst the victims. And again Israeli children have died, victims of the blood lust of these terrorists. Three innocent young children.

We seek the removal and imprisonment of the Palestinian officials who do nothing to stop these terrorists who they know and who they shelter. They are as guilty as the bombers.

[Palestinian Underground Radio: Female actor, her voice filled with hurt and indignation.]

May 25th. The Israelis have banned all our people from attending the Peace Conference today.

Again we see that they will do anything to oppose the search for Peace.

[Israel Government Radio: his voice filled with anger.]

May 25th The Palestinians have refused to cooperate with the safety measures that we instituted to protect those travelling to the Peace Conference today.

Again we see that they will do anything to oppose the search for Peace.

 

[The last lines are spoken by the Palestinian and Israeli announcers who read out loud at the same time while turning to face each other and shaking fists at each other]

[Palestinian Underground Radio: Female actor, her voice filled with anger.]

We look to the wider world to support us in our fight against Zionism.

[Israel Government Radio: male actor, his voice filled with anger.]

We look to the wider world to support us in our fight against Terrorism.

Cindy. The Truth is hard to find. However, the point is not that we should give up looking for it. On the contrary, we must look harder. And we must ensure that we too do not sift through the Truth, and then rewrite it to suit our own agenda! When we debate with someone, usually we try and demonstrate the strengths of our argument and the weakness of the other person’s argument. What we don’t do, is try to work towards finding out by discussion what is true. Most debates have little to do with fact finding. They are usually to do with each side doing a Public Relations job for their viewpoint, while at the same time trying to weaken every one of the other side’s arguments. This selfish type of arguing doesn’t work on the small scale domestic scale, still less on the International Scale. We must learn how to listen as well as to talk! And we must learn at least a little about the History of the Conflict.

THE HISTORY (given out on paper to the audience as well as possibly being shown on a T.V. screen-the way most people find out the “Truth” about World events).

This has proved very hard to write, as every event is seen differently by every Group that has an interest in the Middle East. What does become easily apparent is the great power of individual leaders to argue for or against Peace.

From 1920 till 1948 the British were in control of Palestine. This was a legacy of their Diplomatic Deals with France during the First World War. As greater numbers of Jews arrived in Palestine, there was greatly increased tension and fighting.

In 1947, the United Nations voted to approve the partition of Palestine. This meant a having a Jewish State, and an Arab State. Jerusalem was to be under British control.

In 1948 the new State of Israel was proclaimed in Tel Aviv. Shortly after, the armies of Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon all attacked. During the fighting, hundreds of thousands of Arabs fled from Palestine. They were encouraged to flee by news of massacres of Arab civilians, like that at the village of Deir Yassin. (Some Israeli’s accept that Deir Yassin happened, others claim the story is merely a collection of lies and exaggerations.) Israel won the war and lots of new territory. There were some Arab territorial gains, Egypt gained the Gaza Strip. Jordan gained the West Bank (of the River Jordan) and East Jerusalem.

The Palestinian Refugees fled to Egypt, the Lebanon, and Jordan. In Egypt and the Lebanon, the Refugees were kept in Refugee Camps living on United Nations rations. Only Jordan accepted the Refugees as citizens.

On 5th June 1967, Israeli forces attacked the forces of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria which it claimed were getting ready to attack them. The Six Day War brought spectacular Israeli successes and new territorial gains: which included East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights (from Syria).

Apparently out of the blue, the World learned in August 1993 that the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s Yasser Arafat had agreed a Peace Treaty with Israel. The preparatory talks had been carried out in secret in Norway with the help of Norwegian Negotiators and using devises like “Role-Play” to persuade each “side” to see the other “side” as having genuine aims and aspirations. In the “Oslo Accords”, the PLO recognised Israel and accepted responsibility for the actions of all of its splinter Groups. The Treaty agreed Israeli troop withdrawals from the West Bank City of Jericho and from the Gaza Strip. Still to be discussed was an Independent Palestinian State, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem. The Israeli Prime Minister who signed the agreement – Yitzhak Rabin – was assassinated on 4th November 1995 by a Nationalist Jew who thought Rabin was a traitor.  When Binyamin Netanyahu was elected Prime Minister in 1996, he did not want anything to do with the Peace agreed to in the “Oslo Accords”.

From the time of Rabin’s assassination until today, the dominant Israeli strategy seems (to many Human Rights Groups) to have been to place enough Nationalist Jewish Settlers in Palestine dominated Land to pressure the Palestinians into leaving. In many cases Land is taken from the Palestinians-often under very dubious circumstances – and then given to the Settlers. At the same time, life is made very difficult for Palestinians (in Israel, as well as in the “Occupied Territories” of the Gaza Strip, West Bank, and East Jerusalem) who always come second in any competition (for resources, water, employment, or land) with Jews.

Today there are 7.1 million displaced Palestinians around the world. Many are still in the Refugee camps they went into Decades ago in the Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan as well as in the “Occupied Territories”.

 

INTERNATIONAL LAW.

In 1967, Resolution 242 was approved by the Security Council of the United Nations. It demanded the following: Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.

In 1974, the General Assembly of the United Nations issued Resolution 3236 (XXIX)., which included the following: 2. Reaffirms also the inalienable right of the Palestinians to return to their homes and property from which they have been displaced and uprooted, and calls for their return.

The Negotiations.

Cindy. We –all of us- are now going to try to work towards a Peace Treaty and we need ten members from this lovely friendly audience to volunteer to take on some important tasks-none of which are painful or unduly embarrassing. We need people to debate for and against a Peace Treaty, and we have some lovely helpful actors – none of whom have halitosis – who will help you prepare your arguments.

Samuel. Every member of the audience will be given out copies of the reference material that we have so far discussed or have seen the actors playing out on the Stage i.e. the bits dealing with History and with Negotiations. They will have twenty minutes to read all the reference material and rehearse what they want to say before negotiations start. Plenty of time for such an obviously intelligent audience.

Cindy. This last Scene will involve some of you, the Audience, in a Peace Conference- which has been hastily arranged under pressure from the U.S.A. – with a few of you designated to speak in support of certain positions i.e. Eight members of the Audience: two Israeli Peace Activists broadly in favour of a “fair” Peace settlement; and two other Israeli  Zionists against any deal that compromises the security of Israel; two Palestinians broadly in favour of a “fair” Peace settlement, and two other Palestinians against any deal that denies the “Right of Return” for Refugees. This does seem a bit unfair-having to argue a position you may not agree with. However, if you were brought up under certain conditions, that may have been the position that life “forced” upon you.

Samuel. In addition, two members of the Cast also speak: one, an Israeli Government Spokesperson arguing against any deal that would compromise the security of Israel; and one Palestinian Spokesperson arguing for equal access in Israel for Palestinians to Jobs, Housing, and Education, and arguing for a powerful Palestinian State. If necessary, they will speak first and offer help if the negotiators reach an impasse.

Linda. And please we also need two other members of the Audience to volunteer to be Independent negotiators and they will try hard to help the negotiators reach a compromise Peace Treaty. If a Treaty is to be agreed, it will almost certainly involve a compromise by both sides. Each speaker has two minutes maximum for their initial speech.

Cindy. There will also be one of the actors acting as a Chairperson-to stop people who just can’t stop talking-it happens. And to encourage those who are quite shy to talk. The Chairperson will make notes to compile the Peace Treaty which the negotiators are working on.

Samuel. I am of the opinion that you need to have some knowledge of the situation before you can take a proper part in a debate. In this debate, at the least you need to know what terms like “Zionist” mean. But the discussion cannot be allowed to turn into a recital of “relevant” books that you have read about the Conflict in question.

Linda. What the Peace Treaty applies to is left undefined; it is left to the Negotiators to decide.

Samuel. The skills that are used to sort conflicts between Trade Unions and Management or between two partners who aren’t talking are also being used by Independent – if such a thing exists – negotiators to help in Peace Talks between Nations in conflict with each other.

Linda. There is no “right” decision. Perhaps you will betray your own friend’s and family’s Culture by agreeing a Deal that is unfair. Perhaps Peace is impossible.  Is it? That is for you to decide.

Cindy. When the two minute speeches have ended and Peace negotiations have started, the negotiators have thirty minutes to discuss every option. No longer! As soon as thirty minutes has passed, a vote will be taken of the audience and negotiators. No more speeches or debating is allowed.

Samuel.  Then, lastly, you must decide for yourselves – by a vote of the audience-does the Peace Treaty that has been negotiated carry the support of the audience-and that includes those “negotiators” who, unfortunately, have to vote as their new “persona” demands.

Linda. I suppose that the vote seems a bit of cheat-as in real life, the two main negotiators  – the Israeli and the Palestinian negotiator – would be the ones deciding on whether to accept the Peace Treaty or not.

However, for the purposes of this performance, you, the audience, will feel more involved if you have to make the big decision-is the Peace Treaty acceptable?

Samuel. The question that the main part of the audience must answer is simple enough, “Do you agree that this proposed Peace Treaty is acceptable?” It may even be that there are no terms to be proposed and the meeting has broken up in acrimony. That’s life!

After the vote.

Cindy. The above scenario we have worked on involved Conflict in the Middle East. The same type of Play / Discussion could also be performed with a different Global Conflict situation e.g. the United Nations refusal to send significant numbers of troops to Rwanda in 1994. Or it could even apply to a dispute where a marriage is breaking up under unfair actions by one or both sides. And where, firstly, the “Facts” need to be agreed on and written up.

Linda. It may even be useful for those involved in negotiating their “sides” position in a conflict situation to act out one of the parts in the Peace Conference you have taken part in-and so learn in a relatively detached way about how to reconcile differences and about how to deal with “entrenched positions” (in themselves as well as in others).

Also, in those training exercises, both sides should be broken up e.g. so you would have a Palestinian and an Israeli working together against a Palestinian and an Israeli as they debate back and forth a possible Peace Treaty in some non-Middle Eastern area of the World. Problem solving workshops were used by both sides of negotiators prior to the Arab-Israeli agreement of 1993.

Samuel. Discussions – in a marriage as well as inter-national – often end up in a backward spiral were both sides say, “I only did that in response to what you did the day before / year before”. Both parties to this unproductive discussion often end up justifying their actions by citing an incident that occurred many years before. Both parties to a Peace Treaty must agree on-and keep to-a time frame within which they keep their discussions. e.g. in the Middle East, agreeing not to mention anything before 1947.

Linda. And I believe that choosing the right questions is important. Very often people quite rightly start by looking at basic “Rights” in a situation and ask e.g. “Should people in a refugee camp have clean water and sufficient food?” And then, instead of answering the question asked, answer another question e.g. they reply, “Rebel forces will take all the food.”

Cindy. In any Peace Treaty or Human Rights discussion it is important to start by asking as simple and basic as possible questions. e.g. Start by dealing with basic Rights and then answer the first question, i.e. the one that was asked, correctly. Only then, go on to another question.

Samuel. In the above Peace Making process that we took part in – I hope we all learnt something. In such a Peace Treaty there are four stages. The first stage, is looking at what facts we know. Looking for the truth. People spend an enormous amount of time disagreeing about what is true.

Cindy. Secondly, there is the stage of negotiation. This involves the negotiators having to gain knowledge of “the other side” as being people who have concerns that need to be listened to. Indeed, that they are just as human, and humane, as they are.

Samuel. But you could also argue e.g. some armed Groups in conflict areas may just be out to make money and power for their own Group and are not working for any sense of greater good.

Linda. The third stage, is the Peace Deal, the contract based on give and take and, hopefully, understanding. This Deal is based on the facts of the case real or imagined); on the moral case of the protagonists, and on the power of the protagonists. Power can mean many things, from the number of weapons and soldiers one side has, to the allies that a protagonist has.

Samuel. The fourth stage is only hinted at in what we have so far looked at. And this is how do the protagonists keep up a dialogue in the future and keep having respect for the “other side’s” position-even though they will each do unfair things to the other and will each have justifiable complaints.

Linda, Samuel, Cindy. [To the audience] To all of you, thanks for taking part. Peace, its something worth working at!

 

 

AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION

Getting the Audience involved in a realistic way is a vital part of this Play. More and more, audience participation is being seen (by Theatre Academics) as the “way forward” for theatre in the first few Decades of the twenty first century.

So, here is one possible idea which could help get the audience involved.

I would like to get the audience as involved as possible and for them to have a real say in the discussions. Start with a twenty minute pre-negotiation period where the actors and those members of the audience who are willing to speak, together examine the evidence (contained in the Audience Reference Notes) and work out possible lines of argument, done in as “chatty” a way as possible. This should be done in discreet groups but in front of the rest of the audience. The Chair-person talks to the two Independent negotiators. The Palestinian Actors talk to those taking some kind of pro-Palestinian position. The “Israeli” actor talks to the pro-Israeli negotiators. The audience negotiators should be encouraged to say at least a couple of sentences; otherwise their position/side will not be represented. If they don’t talk, it would be like a Courtroom Trial where the Prosecution take their part but the Defence say nothing.

The Independent Negotiators might be encouraged to mention that the Peace Treaty has to be “workable”. Too “one sided” a Treaty will be a Treaty that might collapse quite quickly. It has been argued (rightly or wrongly) that the Arusha Accords which were signed in 1993 were so biased towards the very competent Tutsi and moderate-Hutu negotiators that the Hutu extremists would never accept the Accords. And that this, as well as some other factors, led to the Genocide of 1994.

The audience could be told that the Negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis are back on because they can be held in a neutral City, Glasgow (or wherever the Play is performed).

Another method of performing, THE FACTS: As the audience first enter the Performance space, they could walk through a pile of A4 laminated cards. Each would have a word or phrase written on it e.g. “no violence”, “According to the Law”, “Empowerment”, “Equality for all”, “Justice”, “Fair” “No opposition”…

The audience and actors should sit down and sift through the Cards in order to pick one that they believe is the most important requirement for a Peace Treaty, and remember that word or phrase. Then, at the request of the Chairperson, all the audience and actors shout out the phrase or word they have remembered from the cards. The result will be Chaos (a discordant roar). This is to show that Chaos resulted even though they all picked well, as best as they could. Yet, they all disagree. Negotiation is a long and tricky business. This part may also allow actors to pick those confident and well spoken enough to take part in the pre-Negotiation talk session which takes place in the middle of the audience.

After as many shows as possible, there should be a post show discussion.

ADVERTISING. Regarding pamphlets for pre-show advertising: I think the advertising for the event has to mention that e.g. – “ten members of our audience will volunteer to take place in a Peace Treaty. This Peace Treaty will be discussed and debated with the help of short plays being shown about the situation in the Middle East and with helpful resource materials/Notes. Eventually the volunteers will come to a Deal / a Contract which the audience will then vote on-the Vote being whether or not to accept the Peace Treaty. This innovative Play will hopefully give members of the audience an insight into the psychology and power politics involved in a Peace Treaty – and how hard it is to make one that endures. The audience will be just as important to the Show as the text of the Play or the work of the actors. This type of Play has never been done before and is a step forward in integrating the Theatre with Human Rights Debate.

The long notes may be best given out as “Homework” when someone buys a ticket for the show. This could be part of the pull for the show. It would show great respect for the audience member-trusting them to do their bit by researching the history of the conflict. It could be that this new type of Theatre well get many admirers (hopefully so). It would make the audience member feel much more a part of the play. Indeed, instead of trying to force/cajole people to take part in audience participation, this method could make people try hard to make sure they are part of the discussions

 

 

 

AUDIENCE REFERENCE MATERIALS (TWENTY MINUTES TO READ IT ALL AND PREPARE NEGOTIATIORS SPEECH-IF SPEAKING)

THE HISTORY. This has proved very hard to write, as every event is seen differently by every Group that has an interest in the Middle East. What does become easily apparent is the great power of individual leaders to argue for or against Peace.

From 1920 till 1948 the British were in control of Palestine. This was a legacy of their Diplomatic Deals with France during the First World War. As greater numbers of Jews arrived in Palestine, there was greatly increased tension and fighting.

In 1947, the United Nations voted to approve the partition of Palestine. This meant a having a Jewish State, and an Arab State. Jerusalem was to be under British control.

In 1948 the new State of Israel was proclaimed in Tel Aviv. Shortly after, the armies of Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon all attacked. During the fighting, hundreds of thousands of Arabs fled from Palestine. They were encouraged to flee by news of massacres of Arab civilians, like that at the village of Deir Yassin. (Some Israeli’s accept that Deir Yassin happened, others claim the story is merely a collection of lies and exaggerations.) Israel won the war and lots of new territory. There were some Arab territorial gains, Egypt gained the Gaza Strip. Jordan gained the West Bank (of the River Jordan) and East Jerusalem.

The Refugees fled to Egypt, the Lebanon, and Jordan. In Egypt and the Lebanon, the Refugees were kept in Refugee Camps living on United Nations rations. Only Jordan accepted the Refugees as citizens.

On 5th June 1967, Israeli forces attacked the forces of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria which it claimed were getting ready to attack them. The Six Day War brought spectacular Israeli successes and new territorial gains: which included East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights (from Syria).

Apparently out of the blue, the World learned in August 1993 that the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s Yasser Arafat had agreed a Peace Treaty with Israel. The preparatory talks had been carried out in secret in Norway with the help of Norwegian Negotiators and using devises like “Role-Play” to persuade each “side” to see the other “side” as having genuine aims and aspirations. In the “Oslo Accords”, the PLO recognised Israel and accepted responsibility for the actions of all of its splinter Groups. The Treaty agreed Israeli troop withdrawals from the West Bank City of Jericho and from the Gaza Strip. Still to be discussed was an Independent Palestinian State, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem. The Israeli Prime Minister who signed the agreement – Yitzhak Rabin – was assassinated on 4th November 1995 by a Nationalist Jew who thought Rabin was a traitor.  When Binyamin Netanyahu was elected Prime Minister in 1996, he did not want anything to do with the Peace agreed to in the “Oslo Accords”.

From the time of Rabin’s assassination until today, the dominant Israeli strategy seems (to many Human Rights Groups) to have been to place enough Nationalist Jewish Settlers in Palestine dominated Land to pressure the Palestinians into leaving. In many cases Land is taken from the Palestinians-often under very dubious circumstances – and then given to the Settlers. At the same time, life is made very difficult for Palestinians (in Israel, as well as in the “Occupied Territories” of the Gaza Strip, West Bank, and East Jerusalem) who always come second in any competition (for resources, water, employment, or land) with Jews.

Today there are 7.1 million displaced Palestinians around the world. Many are still in the Refugee camps they went into Decades ago in the Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan as well as in the “Occupied Territories”.

INTERNATIONAL LAW.

In 1967, Resolution 242 was approved by the Security Council of the United Nations. It demanded the following: Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.

In 1974, the General Assembly of the United Nations issued Resolution 3236 (XXIX)., which included the following: 2. Reaffirms also the inalienable right of the Palestinians to return to their homes and property from which they have been displaced and uprooted, and calls for their return

The Negotiations.

Cindy. We are now going to try to work towards a Peace Treaty and we need ten members from this lovely friendly audience to volunteer to take on some important tasks-none of which are painful or unduly embarrassing. We need people to debate for and against a Peace Treaty, and we have some lovely helpful actors who will help you prepare your arguments.

Samuel. Every member of the audience will be given out copies of the reference material that we have so far discussed or have seen the actors playing out on the Stage i.e the bits dealing with History and with Negotiations. They will have twenty minutes to read all the reference material and rehearse what they want to say before negotiations start. Plenty of time for such an obviously intelligent audience.

Cindy. This last Scene will involve some of the Audience in a Peace Conference- which has been hastily arranged under pressure from the U.S.A. – with some of you designated to speak in support of certain positions i.e. Eight members of the Audience: two Israeli Peace Activists broadly in favour of a “fair” Peace settlement; and two other Israeli  Zionists against any deal that compromises the security of Israel; two Palestinians broadly in favour of a “fair” Peace settlement, and two other Palestinians against any deal that denies the “Right of Return” for Refugees. This does seem a bit unfair-having to argue a position you may not agree with. However, if you were brought up under certain conditions, that may have been the position that life “forced” upon you.

Samuel. In addition, two members of the Cast also speak: one, an Israeli Government Spokesperson arguing against any deal that would compromise the security of Israel; and one Palestinian Spokesperson arguing for equal access in Israel for Palestinians to Jobs, Housing, and Education, and arguing for a powerful Palestinian State. If necessary, they will speak first and offer help if the negotiators reach an impasse.

Linda. And we also need two other members of the Audience to volunteer to be Independent negotiators and they will try hard to help the negotiators reach a compromise Peace Treaty. If a Treaty is to be agreed, it will almost certainly involve a compromise by both sides. Each speaker has two minutes maximum for their initial speech.

Cindy. There will also be one of the actors acting as a Chairperson-to stop people who just can’t stop talking-it happens, and to encourage those-who are quite shy-to talk. The Chairperson will make notes to compile the Peace Treaty which the negotiators are working on.

Samuel. I am of the opinion that you need to have some knowledge of the situation before you can take a proper part in a debate. In this debate, at the least you need to know what terms like “Zionist” mean. But the discussion cannot be allowed to turn into a recital of “relevant” books that you have read about the Conflict in question.

Linda. What the Peace Treaty applies to is left undefined; it is left to the Negotiators to decide.

Samuel. The skills that are used to sort conflicts between Trade Unions and Management or between two partners who aren’t talking are also being used by Independent – if such a thing exists – negotiators to help in Peace Talks between Nations in conflict with each other.

Linda. There is no “right” decision. Perhaps you will betray your own friend’s and family’s Culture by agreeing a Deal that is unfair. Perhaps Peace is impossible.  Is it? That is for you to decide.

Cindy. When the two minute speeches have ended and Peace negotiations have started, the negotiators have thirty minutes to discuss every option. No longer! As soon as thirty minutes has passed, a vote will be taken of the audience and negotiators. No more speeches or debating is allowed.

Samuel.  Then, lastly, you must decide for yourselves – by a vote of the audience-does the Peace Treaty that has been negotiated carry the support of the audience-and that includes those “negotiators” who, unfortunately, have to vote as their new “persona” demands.

Linda. I suppose that the vote seems a bit of cheat-as in real life, the two main negotiators  – the Israeli and the Palestinian negotiator – would be the ones deciding on whether to accept the Peace Treaty or not. However, for the purposes of this performance, you, the audience, will feel more involved if you have to make the big decision-is the Peace Treaty acceptable?

Samuel. The question that  the main part of the audience must answer is simple enough, “Do you agree that this proposed Peace Treaty is acceptable?” It may even be that there are no terms to be proposed and the meeting has broken up in acrimony. That’s life!

Limits of the Negotiation.

Negotiations may include anything the negotiators deem worth of inclusion. However, I enclose some possible areas that might be deemed as subjects that could be part of a Peace Deal:

Acceptance by all parties that Jerusalem is an inseparable part of Israel;

Jordan to become the accepted Palestinian State with all Palestinian Refugees re-sited there (the International Community to compensate Jordan for giving up some land to these Refugees);

Agreement of all Palestinian Groups to renounce terror as a tool against the Israeli State;

Israel will not negotiate with terrorist organisations like Hezbollah or Hamas;

The Palestinian Authority must hand over anyone suspected of crimes against Israel, to Israel for Israel to punish (if guilty);

There must be rigorous (and verifiable) searches (by the Palestinian Authority) for illegal arms dumps and for arms smuggling;

Israel will control all access and egress from the proposed Palestinian State-in order to check for arms smuggling;

All Arab countries to accept the right of Israel to exist.

An Independent State of Palestine created with a seat at the United Nations;

No more settlements built on Arab land;

All illegal settlements on Arab land pulled down and the land returned to the original owners;

A right for all Palestinian Refugees (from 1948 onwards) to return to their Homes;

Israel to substantially invest in the Economy of the proposed Palestinian State;

The International Community to substantially Fund a Palestinian State:

Freedom for all Political Prisoners; 

An International body set up to calculate Compensation due to anyone wrongly detained or mistreated in Israeli Jails over the last ten years.

An Independent International Committee set up to investigate alleged Human Rights abuses (by Palestinians or by Israel) in the future;

An International Peace Force to guard the entrances and exits from a new Palestinian State (for at least five years);

A body set up with International representatives; also representatives of Palestinian interests and Israeli interests, to keep up a friendly dialogue over the next ten years.

The “Occupied Territories” of the West Bank and Gaza be made part of Israel with all its Citizens given full voting rights. East Jerusalem to be an open city (to all Faiths). There would have to be an acceptance by the Israeli’s that they would never make it compulsory – for all citizens – to sign an Oath of Allegiance to a Jewish State.

 

COMPROMISE. Compromise is the name of the game. And parties to an agreement must compromise on things they thought unalterable. However, having said that, there are two things which seem almost impossible to see a compromise in:

  1. The Palestinians would probably never allow the loss of East Jerusalem to a Jewish State. They might (?) accept a Jerusalem open to all.
  2. It is impossible that Israelis Jews would accept the possibility that Israel could be anything but a Jewish State. If the Occupied Territories became part of Israel and the Palestinians given voting rights, then it would not be long before there were more non-Jews than Jews in Israel. Many Israelis have long feared being outvoted by non-Jews, and this is one of the reasons for so many expulsions of Palestinians from Israeli controlled land.

Any Jew in the world is welcome to come to Israel, but not non-Jews. Palestinians tend to have more children than Jewish parents, so even with the expulsions and with the Campaigning to get Jews around the World to come to Israel, Israeli Jews are still in fear of soon being outvoted by non-Jews. Some Israeli Jews believe that they could convert Palestinians or get them to sign a loyalty Oath to a Jewish State-but these things these are unlikely to happen.

To make a Peace Deal work: You need to do quite a few things: like, built up trust between the two sets of communities; allow as many people as possible from the two communities to have real power in dealing with each other in the future; have women involved; secure real and long lasting employment for all fit Adults; have proper Education opportunities for all children and young adults, and try to solve the “underlying problems” at the same time e.g. poverty, sectarianism etc.

These are the phrases that can be given out to the audience (100 slips each with all of the phrases on them). At the Newsboy event the rehearsed reading of a scene got a great response but the reading out by the audience of what they thought as essential for Peace worked amazingly well. Audience members were shocked to see chaos as everyone picked something different from everyone else and although they all wanted the best things they all disagreed resulting in a cacophony.

 

No Violence

 

According to the Law

 

Empowerment

 

Equality for all

 

Justice

 

Fairness

 

No Opposition

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