The film “Gatekeepers” was made, according to Director Dror Moreh, for Israelis who do not think much about the lives of Palestinians living in the West Bank under Israeli occupation nor about the negative and corrosive impact the occupation has had on the moral and political character of the people and state of Israel. It is also intended for those American Jews who love Israel in their kishkes, who understand that Jewish history in light of the Holocaust compels them to appreciate the central importance of the Jewish state in their lives, but who have come to the wrong conclusion, that in order to love Israel they have to support her policies right or wrong.
The film has been nominated for an Academy Award at this year’s Oscars, and I am personally mixed about whether I want it to win or not, because winning means even wider exposure of this disturbing story before the world at large.
The film features interviews of six retired Directors of Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security services. These are hardened, pragmatic men, people with blood on their hands, who have seen it all, who have been the chief practitioners in the fight against terrorism, and who understand that though there are things Israel’s military has had to do to protect Israeli citizens, there is still something “unnatural” about this fight.
Why are these Shin Bet former directors speaking out now? After all, anyone working in Israel’s intelligence services historically has been closed-mouthed about what happens there. They agreed to be interviewed and part of this film because they believe that the direction of Israeli policy is leading the Jewish state towards a catastrophe, that the continued occupation of one and a half million hostile Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank is doomed for disaster, that the occupation is eating away at Israel’s political and moral heart and soul and threatening the survival of the Jewish democratic state of Israel.
The six characterized Israel’s policy in the West Bank as short-sighted, based on tactical matters and not reflective of a cogent long-term strategy. To a man they are soured on Israel’s political leaders who they say have failed to grapple with the core of the conflict and who have not demonstrated the courage necessary to find a two-state solution. They do not understand, for example, Prime Minister Netanyahu who on the one hand says he is for a two-state solution and on the other embraces the most extremist elements within Israeli society that are against a Palestinian state anywhere west of the Jordan River.
One can only hope that there will be a more moderate Israeli government that forms in the next few weeks reflecting the Israeli public’s rejection of extremism and a renewed effort by the United States to bring the parties together to talk and negotiate in good faith.
“Gatekeepers” is a must-see film for anyone who cares about Israel as the democratic state of the Jewish people.
The following link is a 25 minute interview with Dror Moreh, the Director of Gatekeepers by The Huffington Post.