When the Academy Awards are presented later this month, commentator and
veteran ABC News foreign correspondent Barrie Dunsmore will be paying
special attention to the documentary category. This morning he tells us
why one particular film in this group is attracting great international
(Dunsmore) The men who are featured in the
Gatekeepers, a documentary film about the Israeli Palestinian dispute,
are not soft hearted peaceniks – nor anti-Israeli foreigners. They are
hard-as-nails realists who are super-Israeli patriots. They are the men
who from 1980 to 2011 led Shin Bet, the Israeli agency responsible for
internal security and counter-terrorism in the Palestinian territory
occupied by Israel after the June 1967 War.
The Gatekeepers is
the work of Dror Moreh, an experienced Israeli filmmaker who started the
project three years ago. Much to his own surprise he was ultimately
able to persuade all six living Shin Bet security chiefs to speak openly
and frankly of their careers. When asked how all six came to the same
conclusion that Israel should resolve its conflict with the
Palestinians, Moreh told Newsweek, their views evolved from Israel’s
failure to finally suppress Palestinian nationalism no matter what
measures it employed. In Moreh’s words, "These are people who tortured,
who assassinated, who interrogated… they figured out that power can
prevail only to a certain point and after that you have to be a
I have to confess that I have not seen the film. It
was screened at some film festivals last year. And it ran for a few
days in New York City so that it would be eligible for this year’s
Oscars. But it has been much talked about and I have been combing the
Internet to find out what to expect.
David Denby in the New
Yorker says, "They are all hyper patriots who would do anything to save
Israeli lives and the Jewish state. And they are convinced that Israel
is on the wrong track – and the future is ‘dark’."
Jerusalem correspondent Dan Ephron quotes Ami Ayalon, who went into
politics after leading Shin Bet from 1996 to 2000. ‘The tragedy is that
we win every battle, but we lose the war."
In the Gatekeeper film trailer which is available Online, these are some of the quotes of the six men who headed Shin Bet.
"In the war on terror, forget about morality."
"We wanted security – we got more terrorism."
"To the enemy, I was also a terrorist."
"You can’t make peace by military means."
of the strongest quotes in the film appears in several reviews. Avraham
Shalom, the Shin Bet chief from 1980-85, is the one who dismisses
morality when fighting terrorism. But later he says, "On the other hand,
it’s a brutal occupation force similar to the Germans in World War II.
Similar, not identical."
Finally, no one is complaining about
being quoted out of context. As Carmi Gillon who served from 1994-96
told the Los Angeles Times,
"The message (of the film) is that
the occupation is bad for the future of Israel from all aspects (and) I
assure you that all six former heads (of Shin Bet) agree with the
overall conclusions of the film."
Whether or not it wins an Oscar, I am eager to see it.