The Gatekeepers

Sunday 10th November 5:00 PM


If you were thinking of making a successful documentary film, would you consider, as a topic, Israel’s security policies? How would you get enough information to make the film? How would you get Israel (or, indeed, the USA) to agree to it being told? How would you trust what you were told? Director Dror Moreh deserves praise for even attempting this; he certainly deserves it for succeeding so well that the resulting film was nominated for an Oscar as the best documentary. (He lost out to ‘Searching for Sugar Man’, shown at the Alhambra last year which, whilst a great film in its own right, was surely a much easier option for the judges than ‘The Gatekeepers’).

In this film, Moreh has managed to gather the six surviving former heads of Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency (the equivalent of the British government's MI5) and convinced them to speak out about their policies and the results, good and bad, successful or not. Interlinking the interviews with news broadcasts, we effectively have a history of terrorism in Israel over 45 years, with commentary from some of the most influential men of the times.

What makes this more than a history, though, is the insight offered by these men into the psychology of power inside the government; what do you decide to do when you have the power to order the death of a terrorist (or, indeed, may terrorists) rather than attempting to negotiate a peaceful solution? When the pressure is on to find a culprit, proof is less important - witness the IRA ‘bombers’ in England since released on appeal.

‘Of the myriad moral contradictions at play here, it's the idea that these men remain entirely unaccountable for their actions that is perhaps the most shocking of all. As one subheading says: One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter’ - David Jenkins, Little White Lies.

Maybe the one question only we can answer is ‘how do we trust what these professional, secretive men say?’ No doubt our discussions after the film will focus on this...




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