April 14, 2013 by IJV
Last night I went to see the amazing film “The Gatekeepers”, by Dror Moreh. I
would rate it as one of the most powerful documentaries I’ve ever seen. This is
astonishing when it consists of only one thing throughout, extended interviews
with all six the recent ex-Heads of Security (the Shin Bet), one after the other.
They were not chosen because of their views, they are all there. Accompanying
events referred to by the interviewees, there is chilling background newsreel of
the extraordinary brutality consistently meted out to Palestinian communities
over the last sixty years, as well as the effects of suicide bombings, alongside
the continual rounding up and frequent torture of Palestinians of all ages. But
what is truly amazing about the film, almost unbelievable, is that all of these ex-
security chiefs agree on one thing: Israel is not at all safer from what they did
to ‘defend’ it over all these decades, and what is more, they blame Israel’s own
policies for this, for the refusal – apart from the assassinated Yitzhak Rabin –
to even try to talk seriously with Palestinian leaders with the genuine goal of
ending the conflict and making peace.
Interestingly, I’ve been told by one of my Israeli friends that it has been playing to packed audiences when it was shown there a few months ago, and it was hard even to get tickets. What on earth do they make of it, and what are they going to do about it? This is her response to the film:
‘What got me was not the “shock” of revelation … I already knew about the film. What
shocked me was that what these men represent is so horribly typical, such a reflection of our reality here. You can see it in the expressions on their faces. They all talk “cool”, with a little smile … even now, looking back, even being brave enough to speak out, into the camera: they still cannot say that there was another possibility for the man of action: not to quash violently, but to stop everything and say: hey, this is enough, now we will talk and talk until there’s an end of it. They know it – they say this themselves – that any amount of walloping and showing who’s the strong guy here is not going to end the damage. Yet, they don’t face the camera in shame and fear and dismay. Very tellingly, towards the end, one of the men says/sighs: “well, I guess you cannot do this job without coming out a bit of a leftist”. Here’s when Dror Moreh should have stopped everything and asked him: what does it mean for you, “being a leftist”? These men live in a split world. That’s what enabled them to do a job that “had to be done”, and that’s what enables them now that they’re out of the job to find themselves on the other, “left” side, of the equation.’
These security men also agree that it is not only the Palestinians who suffer so appallingly from Israel’s policies. Israel itself is being morally destroyed by the conflict. This is a stunning, unsettling film, do go and see it. And here is an interview with the director on line: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=edwQ8UhQt7k).