Monday, March 4, 2013
Six past and present leaders of Israeli defence organization Shin Bet submit themselves to questioning in The Gatekeepers, and the provocative documentary that results serves as a living monument to doublethink. Director Dror Moreh steadily pushes the group on matters of morality; the men gamely push back while often adding their own criticisms of Israel’s treatment of Palestine. A particularly sharp indictment of the Israeli occupation prompts agreement from one of the men, who arches his eyebrows in self-satisfaction, as if to say, “Didn’t expect that, did you?” Political schizophrenia pervades many of the interviews. Referencing the 1984 killing of two captured bus hijackers, Avraham Shalom acknowledges giving the order to kill the men, but denies its immorality—it’s only wrong because the public found out, he explains. (The ensuing controversy precipitated his resignation as head of Shin Bet in 1986.) Everyone in the group has knowingly played a key role in the very same military occupation they now attack, and all seem helpless to change a system uniformly loathed. Even Shalom scornfully dismisses the Israeli government’s handling of the Palestinians as “tactics, not strategy” and compares his country to Germany occupying Poland during the Second World War. All tools of brute authority, the men resent the stupidity of those that wield them.