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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

THE GATEKEEPERS

By D.E.Levine

A NYFF50 Selection

First time documentary maker Dror Moreh interviews six former heads of Israel's Shin Bet counter terrorism agency.

Recounting the recent history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the six discuss their actions while each was the head of the agency and the consequences of those actions.

Some of the actions are ruthless but regardless the documentary shows that all state-sanctioned violence has extracted a crippling moral toll on the region.

Some of the responses definitely pass the buck and the speaker skirts taking responsibility for the actions and their result.  However, for the most part the former heads are extremely candid and there's very little regret expressed for their actions which sometimes resulted in high numbers of deaths.

We still don't know what the consequences are for these six speaking out about their activities when they were head of the agency.  The six are pretty forthcoming about things that went wrong when they took action, lives that were lost and how the escalation of violence hindered the possibility of peace.

The documentary doesn't solve anything but it casts light on a difficult and ongoing subject.  All the heads agree that listening to and cooperating with Palestinian intelligence is very important.  Ultimately, the film is compelling because of its moral ambiguity.  All the former heads acknowledge their sense of power when making decisions to take enemy lives but don't address the all too troubling implications of ongoing counter terrorism.