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Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Gatekeepers Movie Review


This appears to be the year where it becomes fashionable to take an alternative look at the problems and issues between Israel and the Palestinians. Along with "5 Broken Cameras", "The Gatekeepers" comes to us with insights that we in America are not usually exposed to, at least from the mainstream media and our politicians. Both films are nominees for Oscar's best Documentary, and deservedly so.


While "5 Broken Cameras" is told primarily through the eyes of a Palestinian, this one features a group of Israeli talking-heads being interviewed by filmmaker Dror Moreh. The power of their words comes primarily from the fact that the interviewees were all the heads of the Shin Bet, Israel's version of the FBI.

What we learn from these unquestionable Israeli patriots is that perhaps the actions their agency has taken through the years in order to stem the terrorism of the Palestinians in Israel has not been prudent, even if it was, for the most part, well-intentioned. All of these men when they took their position were sure that what they were doing was right. In retrospect, they all have doubts about what they have done. They all state that the actions of their government were misguided, at times stupid, and most importantly, self-defeating towards the hopes of Israel's survival.

Ami Avalon, one of their ex-leaders, explains that after enough time on the job, one feels numbed to the many killings carried out by the agency. Another, Abraham Shalom, tells us that throughout his tenure the focus was on tactics and never on strategy. The big picture was never examined or addressed. He explains that morality was never a concern of Shin Bet. Their concern was counter-terrorism instead of trying to figure out a possible way to stem the violence and direct both sides to an agreed upon peace. Then again, that really wasn't the agency's job. That was the job of their bosses, the ones who ran the government of the country of Israel. They are not portrayed in the best of light.

"The Gatekeepers" is without question powerful. It will also stir denunciations from those of a certain political belief or leaning. Perhaps the saddest part of what is on screen is the almost unsaid belief that what they have done has only hurt their own country. At the same time, they all have come to the conclusion that there is no light at the end of this tunnel. Whether they have played a role in the current hopelessness of the political situation in Israel is open for debate, because for all of their own misgivings, they all have come to the conclusion that perhaps there was no correct route to have taken that would have led to peace and serenity in the Mideast. They are probably right, but we will never know.

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