A reader sent me a link to Lessons from the Swiss Cheese Map, an article by a former Israeli soldier who was charged with creating the map to be used during the 1995 Oslo negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. The map illustrated which areas would be placed under Palestinian control, which would be under joint Israeli/Palestinian control, and which would remain under Israeli control but eventually be transferred to the Palestinians. Unfortunately, the map was not well received:
Some people claim that the Oslo process was deliberately designed to segregate Palestinians into isolated enclaves so that Israel could continue to occupy the West Bank without the burden of policing its people. If so, perhaps the map inadvertently revealed what the Israeli wordsmiths worked so diligently to hide. Or perhaps Israel’s negotiators purposefully emphasized the discontinuity of Palestinian areas to appease opposition from the Israeli right, knowing full well that Arafat would fly into a rage.
Neither is true. I know, because I had a hand in producing the official Oslo II map, and I had no idea what I was doing. Late one night during the negotiations, my commander took me from the hotel where the talks were taking place to an army base, where he led me to a room with large fluorescent light tables and piles of maps everywhere. He handed me some dried-out markers, unfurled a map I had never seen before, and directed me to trace certain lines and shapes. Just make them clearer, he said. No cartographer was present, no graphic designer weighed in on my choices, and, when I was through, no Gilad Sher reviewed my work. No one knew it mattered.
Details always count.