Sunday, March 3, 2013
"The Gatekeepers" by Israeli director Dror Moreh centers around interviews with six former heads of Shin Beth, Israel's security agency. None are stalwarts of the Israeli left, and they're able to clinically describe targeted assassinations and "moderate physical pressure" applied to Palestinian militants, though some, such as Yuval Diskin (Shin Beth director, 2005-11), come to consider as "unnatural...the power you have to take lives in an instant." They clearly distinguish, though, between the tactics they used and the country's ultimate strategy regarding the conflict with the Palestinians. Each one, with tremendous candor, faults the country's political leadership.
"No Israeli prime minister took the Palestinians into consideration," states Avraham Shalom (Shin Bet director, 1980-86). Carmi Gillon (1994-96), reflects, "We are making the lives of millions unbearable." They are also critical of the Israeli right's incitement against Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin before his assassination and of right-wing religious extremists who tried to blow up the Dome of the Rock, all of whom were set free. Their closing assessments are pessimistic: "The future is dark," states Shalom. "We've become cruel...to ourselves as well, but mainly to the occupied population." Avi Dichter (2000-05) warns, "You can't make peace with military means." Assessing the folly of focusing on security while disregarding a political solution, Ami Ayalon states, "The tragedy of Israel's public security is that we don't realize that we face a frustrating situation in which we win every battle, but we lose the war."
Filmmaker Moreh stated, "If this film does not lead to change, there is no hope for Israel." One hopes that, despite the Netanyahu government's frosty reception, this remarkable and unsettling documentary resonates with the Israeli public and leadership.