Declan Smith for Israel and the Arabs, Elusive Peace

Brook Lapping   |   UK

Arafat (2001/2002) US Secretary of State Colin Powell attempts to make peace between Israel and the Palestinians, but his efforts are derailed by his own hard-line colleagues - and Yasser Arafat himself. The second programme in a major three-part documentary series, Israel and the Arabs: ELUSIVE PEACE, in which Presidents and Prime Ministers, their generals and ministers - and those behind the suicide bombs and assassinations - tell what happened behind closed doors as the violence of the intifada exploded. Reasons for Submission: The thing about Declan is simply he delivers. Everything else is detail. You show him your first preliminary research script and he is away – thinking up new sources of archive – “you don't want to use that one, everyone uses that one.” And after every rough cut viewing he is there with suggestions and ideas. No problem is insurmountable. Declan has a secret weapon, his Irish charm. He has people all over the world doing favours for him. For example there was Clinton's Camp David summit, no archive film at all of the main event in programme 1. Stills? Well the interesting ones were property of the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential library, but Presidential libraries don't open till 5 years after the President leaves office - months after we were due to broadcast. Somehow hundreds of them came our way and saved the show. Then there was the amazing footage of Arafat under siege in his muqata. The interview said that Arafat wanted to run down to confront the Israeli troops and had to be restrained. And lo and behold, we have film of the event. Also the Gaza assassination aftermaths in Programme 3– the way you can see the building with its top floor destroyed. And the horrible bloody remains. But Aqaba was the big one - the credit for that Declan has to share with local researcher Nava Mizrahi. Sally Hilton editor of programme 2and 3 of Elusive Peace writes about Declan So much of Israel and the Arabs centred around secret political meetings between visiting peace makers and lesser known Palestinian and Israeli politicians. The first cut was a series of talking heads and black holes that you can't imagine ever being illustrated.Then Declan came in like Father Christmas bearing gifts of footage of exactly the right guys at the right time and in the right place. Declan tapped into the chaotic Palestinian archive and found footage of top level Hamas meetings and remarkable footage of Arafat's bunker cabinet during the siege, including a meeting where Arafat's aides are trying to persuade him to accept a proposal. I particularly got excited by film showing Rajoub looking extremely grumpy just like it said in the interview. Declan's real genius is giving the viewer a ringside seat at these momentous and terrible episodes in our recent history. You see the wanton destruction of Arafats compound and Arafats terrified reaction. You see the bloody results moments after a suicide bomb in Jerusalem, a little girl sprawled on the pavement looking like a rag doll. You see the despair of an old man in Jenin as the Israeli soliders pick their way through the rubble littered with corpses that was once the town centre. You see a weary Colin Powell give up. Declan doesn't just rely on news footage. He is like an octopus with tentacles everywhere. If an event has been filmed or audio recorded, he will find it, however obscure the source. He makes my job as an editor extremely easy and a real pleasure.