June 15, 2017
“Oslo” Dramatizes Secret Peace Talks Leading to Accord
Washington, D.C. — The Institute’s influence now extends from Washington, D.C., to Broadway.
The play “Oslo,” which last week captured the 2017 Tony Award for best play, was based, at least in part, on Making Peace with the PLO: The Rabin Government's Road to the Oslo Accord by Institute Ziegler Fellow David Makovsky. Michael Aronov, who plays Israeli diplomat Uri Savir, also won a Tony for best featured actor. The play focuses on the dramatic behind-the-scenes Israeli-Palestinian negotiations leading to the landmark Oslo Accord signed on the White House lawn in September 1993.
A few days before the Tony Award ceremony, playwright J.T. Rogers invited David to attend the play and meet with members of the cast. “When J.T. took me backstage, he pointed at my book on top of a pile of books. I was humbled when he said ‘It is the best book on Oslo. I learned a lot. It provided me with a spine in understanding the story,’” David recalled. Rogers also asked the cast and director to read David’s book to prepare for the performance.
David has covered the peace process as an award-winning journalist and subsequently as a scholar for 30 years, becoming personally acquainted with many of the key policymakers in Israel and the Palestinian Authority. In 2013-2014 he took a leave of absence from his position as director of the Institute’s Project on the Middle East Peace Process, Irwin Levy Family Program on the U.S.-Israel Strategic Relationship, to serve as a senior advisor on Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace negotiations team.
Recognizing that "Oslo," like virtually all theatrical productions, takes dramatic license with the historical record, David is nonetheless pleased with the play’s depiction of events. “It is an inspirational story of Middle East history in the making, and it does it well,” he says. “I hope the play is a blessing for Israelis and Palestinians alike – who deserve to see the end of their tragedy and attain a more secure future filled with dignity and hope.”
A movie is now in the works that will include historical material omitted from the stage version. But David cautions that it would be impossible to tell the full story of the Oslo Accords in a single play or movie or even two. “All the geopolitical and other forces that emerge in the wake of Oslo require more than just a sequel,” David says.