What could be more inspirational than the true-life story of the secret diplomatic negotiations that led to the Oslo Peace Accord, instigated by our very own Norwegian Ambassador to London Mona Juul and her academic husband Terje Rød-Larsen. This play is a must-see for diplomats who might be feeling a little jaded in 2017.
The play centres on Juul, then a young, idealistic diplomat posted to Cairo in 1988 when the first intifada broke out. “The situation in the Middle East as a whole and, in particular, the relations between Israel and Palestine made a huge impact on me,” the Ambassador said in an interview with Norwegian Arts. She and her husband decided to do something daring; to open a back channel where senior Israeli and Palestinian officials could negotiate a settlement, in secret, at a Norwegian manor house outside Oslo.
There are tense scenes as they finally persuade the two sides to talk and then try to contain explosive arguments as they hammer out thorny issues such as the status of the Gaza Strip, and of course, Jerusalem, (which has hit the news headlines again 25 years later).
After two years, Juul and Rød-Larsen bring the sides together, leading that historic handshake between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat on the White House lawn.
The play is a life-affirming reminder that diplomacy matters and that the courageous people who conduct diplomacy can make a difference if given the chance.
“In the whole world, we are facing a major challenge, as people are too reluctant and afraid to really sit down and talk with each other. They would rather shout at each other using twitter and megaphones, and that creates a dangerous polarisation of societies. Therefore, the message of hope and possibility this play conveys, showing that it is possible to bring people together, I think is more necessary and important than ever,” said Juul.
See it and be inspired for 2018!