“The parts of the play that touched me most were these appeals to humanity and the stress on the importance of human connection”

A few days ago, my assistant told me that the play “Camp David” by Lawrence Wright had come to The Old Globe Theater. She had seen the play over the weekend and was excited to share with me how many laws of Enlightened Negotiation she had recognized throughout the negotiation process for a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, facilitated by American President Jimmy Carter. Specifically referenced were the Laws of Trust, Flexibility, Mindfulness, and Intention. Having often used Camp David as an example of Enlightened Negotiation in my workshops, I too was excited to see the play and purchased tickets for the following weekend.

Throughout the entire play, Carter and Sadat are trying to get the unbudging Begin to come to an agreement. Begin outright refuses to sign any treaty during the negotiations, and doesn’t budge on any of the terms. But through the appeal to his humanity and use of human connection, a peace treaty finally is achieved. While I had known about the use of specific Enlightened Negotiation laws and skills used in the negotiation, the parts of the play that touched me most were these appeals to humanity and the stress on the importance of human connection.

One of the areas in particular was when Rosalyn Carter and Begin shared memories of dancing to a favorite song. Although the act was simple, this touch of human connection started the ball rolling on all of the characters being more open to the possibility of reaching a treaty.

Later in the play, after a tense negotiation meeting during which there was no progress, Sadat and Begin began to discuss their grandchildren. After Sadat confided that his favorite grandson was ill and in hospital, Begin, reminded of his own grandchildren back home, told Sadat that he would keep him and his grandson in his prayers.

Finally, after days and days of reaching no agreement, when everyone is preparing to return home, the turning point of the play comes. At this point, the White House has announced the negotiation discussions a failure. Carter goes to bid Begin farewell and hands Begin an envelope. Upon opening the envelope, Begin finds several autographed photos – one for each of his many grandchildren. As he is flipping through the photos, reading aloud each of his grandchildren’s names, Carter confides that his original intention was for the photos to be souvenirs of when their grandfather made peace in the Middle East. Begin reaches the last photograph, softly reads the last name, and looks down at his lap. Finally, he announces he will sign the treaty.

The agreement notably made Egypt the first Arab state to officially recognize Israel, and led to Sadat and Begin being awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1978. To this day, there has been no war between Egypt and Israel.

To learn more about how Enlightened Negotiation can be used to resolve conflicts on the personal, business, and international levels, read my new book, Enlightened Negotiation: 8 Universal Law to Connect, Create, and Prosper, available for preorder on Amazon.