Return of the “Gatekeepers”

“The film sends ‘a simplistic political message’ implying that Israel’s occupation of the West Bank stands between terrorism and peace. [Jerusalem Post, February 13, 2013]

The subject Op Ed by Roz Rothstein and Roberta Seid entitled, “The dishonesty of ‘The Gatekeepers’, serves as a convenient introduction to the given ill judged topic. In summary, Moreh, the film maker uses his interviews with six former directors of Israel’s top security services to convince the public that if Israel withdraws from the West Bank, terrorism will subside and peace will break out. Whatever usefulness the film conveys is lost in bias and dishonesty.

The movie repeatedly ignores history and context, blaming Israel for Palestinian hostility and violence which occurred after 1967, when Israel commenced administration of the West bank. This typified the downside of the film. As is the fact that a viewer was never made to understand that terrorism against Jews and Israelis had little to do with Israel’s administration but rather owed its existence to pre-state days.

Visually and verbally, the film portrays Israel as a heartless occupier. Moreh’s efforts to blame Israel and the Shin Bet’s actions for the ongoing hostility to the Jewish state was like blaming the victim who is defending himself instead of blaming the perpetrator. Though the film tries to portray Israel’s anti-terrorism policies as counterproductive and cruel, the interviews inadvertently tell a different story.
Palestinian Arabs murdered over 1,000 Jews between 1920 and 1967, and they ethnically cleansed all Jewish communities from the areas they captured during the 1948 war, including the West Bank, Gaza and eastern Jerusalem. The pattern of terrorism simply continued after Israel’s victory in its 1967 defensive war.

Visually and verbally, the film portrays Israel as a heartless occupier. In line with his political agenda, Moreh tries to paint all religious Israelis, settlers and right of center parties as extremist and intransigent. He wants audiences to share his wishful thinking, that Israel can end the conflict simply by withdrawing from the West Bank.

There is much in the way of omissions throughout the film , making the Shin Bet’s actions seem immoral or counterproductive by minimizing the context of terrorism.

Who were the “Gatekeepers”? They were all former directors of Israel’s domestic security agency, the Shin Bet: Avraham Shalom, Yaacov Peri, Avi Dichter, Carmi Gillon, Ami Ayalon and Yuval Diskin.
Given that Israel’s singular construct is one of a nation under “Siege” as labeled by Connor Cruise O’Brian, security is a prime consideration of the public at large. Consequently, the subject film drew far more reviews than is usual. A short list of titles conveys the differences in how reviewers interpreted its content:

Globe and Mail: Talking Truth with Israel’s Spymasters – Rick Groen.
Jerusalem Post: “The Gatekeepers” is Worth Watching” – Hannah Brown.
Times of Israel: The “Gatekeepers” Opens Up [A provocative and bleak documentary] – David Horvitz.
Jewish Ideas Daily: Israel’s Gatekeepers [A political document] -Alex Joffe. The Gatekeepers Keeps Information from Viewers – Rick Richman.
Arutz7: “The Gatekeepers”: Identifying With the Enemy – Giulio Meotti.
Tablet: Terror at the Oscars [An urgent message for Israelis] – Judith Miller.
Jerusalem Post: Israel’s Gatekeepers [Naked Racism] – Editorial.
The Algemeiner: Peddling Two-State Propaganda All the Way to Oscars – Editorial.
The Jewish Press: Upper West Siders Forget to Think Jewish – Phyllis Chesler.
National Movies: The Gatekeepers [an indictment of Israeli government policy] – Emad Burnat. Oscar Nominated Israeli Director, Rabbis are “Biggest Threat,” “Israel Doesn’t Want Peace,” “Settlements “Illegal” – Debbie Schlussel.

Author’s letter to the Jerusalem Post, published on February 17, 2013:
“Sir – Good journalism demands balance, and this is no less for film making. It is common knowledge that for every action one would anticipate a reaction . Wars are either invasive or defensive.

In viewing the movie, one is left with the distinct impression that Israeli governments have always been short on plans for settling the dispute concerning the acquisition of the West Bank & Gaza following the 6 Day War. Did not Menachem Begin propose autonomy? What was the Madrid Conference about, or for that matter the disastrous Oslo event? And who can forget in more recent times, the exhaustive efforts of Olmert & Livni, after meeting with Abbas?
Neither the director, nor any of his 6 “actors” in belaboring their complaint, offer a single concrete idea on problem resolution other than further discussions which have already been attempted.

How does one explain the extremist behavior of those who are charged with protecting the nation in hanging out their “dirty washing” in the public arena? The kindest answer would be found in the numerous works of the famed US psychiatrist, Dr. Kenneth Levin, and in particular “The psychology of populations under chronic siege”. Briefly summarized, “segments of populations under chronic siege commonly embrace the indictments of the besiegers, however bigoted and outrageous. They hope that by doing so and reforming accordingly they can assuage the hostility of their tormenters and win relief.”

An important omission in this less than credible movie relates to the earlier 2 hour interview as reported in 2003 by Israel’s largest newspaper, Yedioth Aharonot, presenting precisely the same content. The Washington Post followed the next day with its account, “Ex-Security Chiefs Turn on Sharon” and in Britain, The Guardian published its own story, “Israel on road to ruin, warn former Shin bet chiefs”. Apparently, this interview largely influenced Sharon to withdraw from Gaza with very different results from those confidently predicted.

The film is thoroughly one sided completely ignoring the many generous offers to the Palestinians. A better movie would have explored the failed attempts in seeking a real peace.
Alex Rose, Ashkelon [08] 673-2555, 0547-718-424″

Fast forward to today’s reality. In an Times of Israel leasing article on December 18, 2018, “Gantz: Solving conflict with Palestinians must be the top priority”, we learn that a former IDF chief, “who has yet to formally announce his entry to politics, says Israel must find a solution without compromising on security of citizens.”

On February 6, 2019, the Times of Israel reports that “The Palestinians on Wednesday welcomed remarks made by Benny Gantz, the main rival of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the upcoming April elections, who earlier seemed to raise the possibility of an Israeli pullback from the West Bank and said Israel should find a way to end its ‘control’ over the Palestinians.”

Further on yet another revelation. Apparently, asked in an interview with the Yedioth Ahronoth daily, about the 2005 withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, Gantz said: ‘It was a legal action. It was approved by the government of Israel and carried out by the IDF and the settlers, with great pain but done very well. We have to take its lessons and implement them in other places.” Really, and so the wisdom of the contemporary leader of the “Gatekeepers”, as he recruits 2 former IDF generals, Moshe Ya’alon and Gabi Ashkenazi.

According to Hamodia, the Blue and White Party of Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid, made public their platform on Wednesday, March 6, 2019. Despite its 45 page report, it left out “some of the most important [issues] still needing clarifications.” In summary:

[a] The question of a Palestinian state or a two-state resolution not addressed.
[b] Allows for the possibility of territorial concessions in a peace deal , subject to a national referendum or Knesset approval by a supermajority.
[c] Pledged to ” initiate a regional conference with the Arab countries that seek stability and deepen the process of separation from the Palestinians, while maintaining uncompromising security interests of the State of Israel and the IDF’s freedom of action everywhere.”
[d] Non-committal on the as-yet released Trump plan.
[e] Commits itself to a united Yerushalayim, continued sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and intention to keep settlement blocs, while willing to dismantle the outposts in Yehudah and Shomron in a permanent status agreement.
[f] “We will strengthen the settlement blocs and allow normal life in all places that Israelis live—The Jordan Valley will be Israel’s eastern security border.”
[g] “We will allow accelerated economic development in the Palestinian Authority’s territory, and we will maintain an open horizon for a diplomatic arrangement in the future—-and for political settlement.”
[h] “President Trump’s peace plan will be weighed against these principles—-“.
[i] “——-there won’t be a second Disengagement. A unilateral process leads the enemy to conclude that violent resistance has succeeded. We will not repeat this mistake. Any historic diplomatic decision will be determine by the people through a national referendum or approved by the Knesset through a special majority.”

A close examination of the above reveals several contradictions. Besides this, there is no evidence of Gantz and Lapid thinking out of the box, nor that they are widely read. For otherwise they would be giving thoughts to Rachel Neuwirth’s “Win-Win Solution” which involves resettlement of the Palestinians, in order to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Sizable Saudi Arabia is probably the best candidate for this concept. The comprehensive plan can be readily accessed through the internet.

Yet another alternative is Dr Mordechai Kedar’s Eight State Solution. Dr Kedar has studied the Arab mind over many years and is able to offer a comprehensive plan, which is doable and realistic. It was originally conceived in 2012.[https//].

Recently he published a paper on Arutz 7, “Deal of the Century” or a Plan Doomed to Failure.”

About the Author
Alex Rose was born in South Africa in 1935 and lived there until departing for the US in 1977 where he spent 26 years. He is an engineering consultant. For 18 years he was employed by Westinghouse until age 60 whereupon he became self-employed. He was also formerly on the Executive of Americans for a Safe Israel and a founding member of CAMERA, New York (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America and today one of the largest media monitoring organizations concerned with accuracy and balanced reporting on Israel). In 2003 he and his wife made Aliyah to Israel and presently reside in Ashkelon.