Mercury Rising 鳯女

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The Gatekeepers: interviews of six heads of Shin Bet on the future of Israel

Posted by Charles II on January 29, 2013

The director of the recent film The Gatekeepers, Dror Moreh, was interviewed by DemocracyNow. The film includes some astonishing quotes from the directors of Shin Bet, Israel’s secret police.

Moreh complained that DemocracyNow had decontextualized the quotes to portray the Palestinians as innocent victims of Israeli aggression. But even understood in context, namely that Shin Bet’s efforts are aimed not at civilians but at terrorists, the film is both powerful and relevant to the US so-called “Global War on Terror.”

Civil wars and sectarian conflicts such as Afghanistan and the intifada of Palestine cannot be understood as isolated acts of violence. Both sides have grievances. No side is innocent. Our own Revolutionary War was presaged, in part, by what would be called acts of terror today. Think Sam Adams and the Sons of Liberty. The Gatekeepers, appropriately, focuses on what the suppression of the Palestinians is doing to Israelis. In this context, there is this exchange:

AARON MATÉ: Well, we certainly aren’t here to debate the history with you, but we are trying to portray your film, and your movie has some very powerful statements that should be highlighted. You know, you have Avraham Shalom saying something like—a line like: “[We’ve become] a brutal occupation force similar to the Germans in World War II.”


AARON MATÉ: “We have become cruel, to ourselves as well, but mainly to the occupied population, using the excuse of the war against terror.”

Moreh goes on to draw the parallel between an Israeli attack that killed one terrorist (who was supposedly organizing a truce) and over a dozen innocent people and American drone attacks.

The heads of Shin Bet are unanimous in their view that the occupation is dangerous and destabilizing to Israel. Even when the attacks are targeted against terrorists, they inevitably raise questions about proportionality, about the deaths of innocents, and about the brutalization of the occupier.

By increasing the settlements, Israel is coming dangerously close to forced removal of the Palestinians, i.e. what’s called ethnic cleansing. Moreh is right:

Dror Moreh: … I think that those people who came to speak in the movie, the six heads of the security defense establishment, the Shin Bet, came because they feel that the occupation of the Palestinians in the last 45 years is something that is not good for the state of Israel and should be stopped.

The same can be said of many American occupations and interventions. Unless they resolve grievances, establish a superior living standard, and especially respect the whole community and their traditions, they will backfire–even if they are tactically brilliant and otherwise morally justifiable. This film looks to go a long way toward showing why this is so.


One Response to “The Gatekeepers: interviews of six heads of Shin Bet on the future of Israel”

  1. I wonder if more Israelis are starting to admit this to themselves — hence the gains of the moderates in the recent elections, stunning observers who predicted the electorate was going to turn even harder to the right.

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