Gordon Miller

Gordon Miller is principal architect of the Bermigo Plan. Although known to few outside the field, his work is lauded in many quarters.

Professor Ya'acov Bar-Simantov, late director of the Jerusalem Institute (Israel's top political research institute) once quipped "there's nothing I need discuss further with Gordon because I'm in full agreement with his (Bermigo) prototype." Prof 'Barsi' advised Israel's Foreign Ministry Research Dept to invite Miller in for a complete briefing – which the Dept promptly did. The politics of the day, though, allowed little room for "your admittedly very sensible approach, but perhaps a bit radical for our government."

Over the years, many experts in Israel urged Miller to press on with the project. Professor Rami Friedman, founder of the Jerusalem Institute (and first director) reminded him how the Israeli government had been caught flatfooted during the Camp David negotiations – and had turned to the Institute for the guidelines prepared "offline" by the Institute's researchers. "And your proposal, Gordon, appears far more realistic  but still ahead of its time" counseled Freidman in 2004. As former dean of the Lauder School of Government, Strategy & Diplomacy, Prof Friedman had worn many distinguished hats – including an on-site stint with the monitoring team of the Balkans conflict – and acidly remarked that prevaricating politicians inevitably end up playing catch-up.

Many specialists at the Truman Institute (Jerusalem University's acclaimed political research arm) were also familiar with Gordon Miller's work. Indeed, Miller often consulted them, and readily credits the bevy of visiting researchers (who share their findings at Truman's specialized seminars) for many of the insights he gleaned and incorporated into the Bermigo package.

In 2004, a number of top Israeli industrialists interested in funding the Bermigo polls asked Miller to ascertain whether Israel's top institutes would host conferences/seminars on the package, should the Bermigo poll-results show real promise. All – without exception – told Miller they definitely would.

The business group, though, backed down, fearing the planned set of polls might show an acceptance among both Israelis and Palestinians that would trump then prime-minster Sharon's plan for evacuating Gaza alone. This was indeed likely; both TAU and The Peace Index polls at the time were showing that "59% of Israelis would evacuate 100% of the territories in the right deal." And what deal could be more auspicious for Israelis than the Bermigo package – that is, if Palestinians right across the board affirmed they'd abide by its terms.

Miller pleaded with the group that it would be a huge mistake to evacuate just Gaza alone without first checking whether the Palestinian public might universally heed a Bermigo-styled package – that in return for a huge Western investment with multiple dividends, Palestinians across the board might voluntarily agree to a 25-year, watertight ceasefire. In contrast, Sharon's evacuation plan contained nothing in place to fill the economic vacuum, democracy vacuum – and especially, security vacuum – for the aftermath in Gaza.

Miller's plea fell on deaf ears. Given what inevitably emerged in  and from Gaza, today Gordon Miller's plea would be heard very differently. Moreover, contends Miller, the Gazans might still overwhelmingly go for the Bermigo Plan. The Bermigo Poll (slated for a 1000-person sampling {+/- 4% error} in both the West Bank and Gaza) would tell us.