Title: The Gatekeepers
Director: Dror Moreh
An innovative, riveting and thought-provoking overview of the brutal history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, director Dror Moreh’s “The Gatekeepers,” along with the unfortunately overlooked “Tears of Gaza,” makes a strong and vigorous case for a re-examination of the United States’ relationship with Israel, and an adjustment that reflects the reality of them as a powerful ally but not a 51st state.
The Shin Bet is Israel’s secret service, charged with overseeing the nation’s war on terror, and in particular its military prosecution against Palestinian resistance and incursions. For the first time ever, six ex-heads of the agency — all its living former chiefs — agreed to share their insights and reflect publicly on their actions and decisions, and the consequences of those successes and failures. Moreh films the interviews in straightforward fashion, and these are vivid, fascinating subjects, their initial calculation melting away and coalescing into a troubled portrait of moral calculation.
Even for those with an avowed apolitical bent, “The Gatekeepers” is affecting, in sneaky fashion. The specific stories are amazing — in particular in detailing the right-wing religious extremists who in the late 1970s blindsided Shin Bet with a plot to blow up the Dome of the Rock, and the later assassination of Yitzhak Rabin — but more importantly the tales also reflect inner changes within the men. “Victory is the creation of a better political reality,” says one, a phrase that seems downright impossible to imagine a comparable American government official uttering.
Festival-minted (the movie played at Venice, Toronto, Telluride and New York), Oscar-nominated, and the winner of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association’s Best Documentary Award, “The Gatekeepers” is a hard-edged and demanding work, but an important one — a nonfiction cri de coeur about the questionable embrace of war in the pursuit of peace.
Written by: Brent Simon