Salisbury Press

Monday, February 24, 2020

'Gatekeepers' is a must-see

Wednesday, March 27, 2013 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

"The Gatekeepers" is a documentary film that goes a long way toward helping to explain politics in the Middle East, especially since the 1967 Arab-Israeli Six-Day War.

In six days, the Israel military took control of the Gaza Strip, Sinai Peninsula, West Bank, East Jerusalem and Golan Heights.

While Israel won the war, it put the nation in the midst of war on terror battles over Palestinian statehood and to prevent, as defenders and allies of Israel would say, the achievement of the oft-stated goal of Israel's enemies, namely, "to wipe Israel from the face of the planet."

"The Gatekeepers" deals with a range of issues, including Jewish settlements in the West Bank, the Intifada, Hamas militants, the Islamic Jihad, the Oslo Peace Accord and the 1995 assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

The film's title refers to interviews with six leaders of the Shin Bet, Israeli's equivalent of the United States' Central Intelligence Agency.

Shin Bet was established in 1949 under David Ben-Gurion's government. Since the 1967 War, Shin Bet has been devoted to counterterrorism and intelligence gathering in the West Bank and Gaza.

The Shin Bet leaders interviewed, covering the years roughly from 1980 to 2011, are: Ami Ayalon, Avi Dicther, Yuval Diskin, Carmi Gillon, Yaakov Peri and Avraham Shalom.

Their names are not familiar to most Americans. However, the former Shin Bet leaders provide profound insights, controversial opinions and startling conclusions.

Their interviews for "The Gatekeepers" are said to be the first time these former Shin Bet leaders have spoken on the record about their decisions, many which led to the deaths of thousands and, some would say, an escalation in suicide bombings.

The leaders talk in what might be called "military-speak": a "binary decision," for example.

"The Gatekeepers" is produced and directed by Dror Moreh, who produced and directed "Sharon," a 2008 documentary about former Israel Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

The movie is divided into chapter titles. These paint a rather depressing portrait of the legacy of Shin Bet, including: "No Strategy, Just Tactics," "Forget About Morality" and "One Man's Terrorist Is Another Man's Freedom Fighter."

Interspersed with the talking-head interviews is newsreel footage, microfilm images, rows and rows of file cabinets, interrogation rooms and prison cells, and computer-screen imagery of direct-hits (said to be recreated).

Movie-goers may find some of the footage, including that of bus bombings, interrogations and riots, to be disturbing.

"The Gatekeepers," a 2012 foreign film Oscar nominee with the Oscar going to "Searching for Sugar Man," was named one of the Top Five documentaries for 2012 by the National Board of Review and was chosen the best non-fiction film of 2012 by the National Society of Film Critics,

Ultimately, "The Gatekeepers" brings to mind the Biblical quote, from Jeremiah 8:11: "Saying, 'Peace, peace,' when there is no peace."

While "The Gatekeepers" provides no answer about the pathway to peace, it asks pertinent questions.

The timing couldn't be better to see "The Gatekeepers," especially for public-officials, professors and students concerned about the Middle East, the cradle of civilization then and now.

"The Gatekeepers," MPAA Rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13) for violent content including disturbing images; Genre: Documentary; Hebrew, with English subtitles; Run time: 1 hr., 41 mins.; Distributed by Sony Classic Pictures

Credit Readers Anonymous: "The Gatekeepers" chronicles the clandestine activities of Shin Bet, also known as Shabak, which translates as "in the service of safety."

Box Office, March 22: "The Croods," the animated family feature about a prehistoric family, did some 21st century business, opening at No. 1, with $44.7 million, keeping "Olympus Has Fallen" opening at No. 2, with "$30.5 million, and ending the two-week No. 1 run of "Oz the Great and Powerful," No. 3, $22 million, $177.5 million, three weeks.

4. "The Call," $8.7 million, $30.9 million, two weeks; 5. "Admission," $6.4 million,opening; 6. "Spring Breakers," $5 million, $5.4 million, two weeks; 7. "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone," $4.2 million; $17.3 million, two weeks; 8. "Jack the Giant Slayer," $2.9 million, $59 million, four weeks; 9. "Identity Thief," $2.5 million, $127.7 million, seven weeks; 10. "Snitch," $1.9 million, $40.3 million, five weeks

Unreel, March 29:

"G.I. Joe: Retaliation," PG-13: The "G.I. Joe" franchise marches on with Channing Tatum, Dwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis in the action thriller sequel.

"The Host," PG-13: Your body gets taken over. Your memory is erased. What's not to like in the sci-fi thriller from "Twilight" author Stephenie Meyer? Saoirse Ronan, Diane Kruger and William Hurt star.

"Tyler Perry's Temptation," PG-13: A marriage counselor crosses the line. Wonder if she sends a bill at the end of the month? Tyler Perry directs Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Vanessa Williams and Kim Kardashian in the need we say? drama.

"The Place Beyond the Pines," R: In what might not be the smartest career move, a motorcycle stunt driver decides to rob banks to provide for his girlfriend and their child. Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Rose Byrne and the Lehigh Valley's Dane DeHaan star in the crime-drama.