Monday, January 26, 2015

The Gatekeepers (2012)

Director: Dror Moreh


A documentary featuring interviews with all surviving former heads of Shin Bet, the Israeli security agency whose activities and membership are closely held state secrets. Shin Bet is one of three principal organizations of the Israeli Intelligence community with the other two being Mossad (foreign intelligence) and Aman (military intelligence). 

Documentary follows the history of Israel-Palestine conflict post 1967 six-day war. First half of it poses the moral and ethical issues regarding their operations and techniques which I didn't find that interesting. The interviewer, who adopts the Errol Morris style of being invisible, don't ask really meaningful questions and seem to concentrate much on what seemed to be a silly issue of captured bombers getting killed by the army personnel. It seems that bus bombing incident was a big issue in Israel and to be fair the documentary is mainly aimed at the Israeli people so that they get a different perspective regarding the whole issue. The second half of documentary is much more interesting as it deals with resistance from some sections of the Israeli society regarding the peace process. They are instigated largely by some batshit crazy Rabbis (Religion, who would have thunk) who don't mind an all out war since they think it is essential for their prophet, as per the scripture, to emerge. Now the situation is such that there is no progress regarding the peace process and one of the former heads conclude that Israel is following the tragic path of 'Winning all the battles but losing the war'. Israel is at its peak in terms of relative power with respect to other powers in the region. It is for their own good to initiate the peace process and reach a solution considering their geographic location. They simply cannot keep such a large population under occupation in the long term when that population can't see a solution to their plight emerging. 

Everyone has an opinion on the Israeli-Palestine conflict and the following is mine, for what it is worth. Countries are made and the borders are established always on the back of bloodshed. It is naive to think that it isn't so and Israel is no different. People go on about the unfairness regarding the formation of Israel, well that is how it played out and we cannot do anything about it now. Statehood of Palestine is almost universally accepted now and it seems the only feasible solution (despite the impracticality of it being another version of West and East Pakistan considering the locations of Gaza and West Bank). It is up to Israel  to take the initiative since it is in their own interest to do so because at some point of time in the future, the backlash against its policies will dominate over the guilt/sympathy that the developed world have regarding the holocaust. I am not absolving Palestine but they at least have the excuse of being occupied. That said, I find people comparing the body count on both sides as some proof for Israel committing genocide against the Palestinians. Its not their fault that Iron Dome is so damn effective now.

Overall the documentary is a good watch if you already have some background regarding the whole issue. To quote Yeshayahu Leibowtiz, which is used in the documentary:

"Rule over the occupied territories would have social repercussions.  After a few years there would be no Jewish workers or Jewish farmers.  The Arabs would be the working people and the Jews the administrators, inspectors, officials, and police—mainly secret police.  A state ruling a hostile population of 1.5 to 2 million foreigners would necessarily become a secret-police state, with all that this implies for education, free speech, and democratic institutions.  The corruption characteristic of every colonial regime would also prevail in the state of Israel.  The administration would have to suppress Arab insurgency on the one hand and acquire Arab Quislings on the other.  There is also good reason to fear that the Israel Defense Force, which has been until now a people's army, would, as a result of being transformed into an army of occupation, degenerate, and its commanders, who will have become military governors, resemble their colleagues in other nations.Out of concern for the Jewish people and its state we have no choice but to withdraw from the territories and their population of one and a half million Arabs."

Rating: 3.5/5