Highly controversial but massively intriguing is Israeli filmmaker, Dror Moreh’s documentary revolving around six former leaders of Shin Bet; Israeli Security Agency, whose motto is “unseen shield” or “Defenders that shall not be seen”.
Watching and listening to the true tales of these conflicted men; men whose existence has been informed by war, strife, threatened perpetually by hatred and flaming hostility from Palestinian terrorists; despotically powerful they decide when, where, and how to strike; to kill or not, regardless of collateral damage. Moreh convinces these men to reflect on their past actions and the consequences that ceaselessly haunt them . This is soul-searching at its deepest and most traumatic level; indubitable, lacerating honesty.
Mesmerizing, is the use of archival footage, painting the bifurcation and escalating tensions between the Israelis and Palestinians; commencing with the 1967 war, Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza; grueling aftermath, referencing the success of suicide bombers, capturing the hijackers of the Kav 300 bus, and their vigilante demise. Stunning technology used in tracking terrorists, torture techniques; elimination of Hamas bomb maker, Yahya Ayyash, via cell phone; drone attacks on terrorists homes; horrifying and fascinating, simultaneously.
At the heart of the film and the most problematic is the inauspicious portrait these six men forecast for the state of Israel; divisiveness between the liberal and radical forces; the Shin Bet did not prevent Yitzhak Rabin’s assination by right- wing radical, Yigal Amir (1995); ideologies torn asunder, these ageing forgers of safety and surveillance unveil their fathomless concerns about the route taken by Israeli leaders. Laying bare their own sins, accepting accountability, never shunning egregious errors. Every man, without exception, feels the need for a Palestinian state and the only path, as wretched as it may be, to reach that conclusion, is “conversation”; conversation with every faction, even terrorists, to reach an unlikely, tenuous harmony.
Profoundly thought-provoking, “The Gatekeepers” is an exceptional, eye-opening testimony by men whose introspection, fermented over the years, exhibiting their unhealed wounds, still oozing; sadly depicting the death of optimism; Israel doomed, futureless.