Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Gatekeepers.

I don't like writing about Jewish related issues. Not because I don't have any opinions on the matter, rather, it's when a discussion does start on some relevant issue it rapidly degenerates into accusations of philo or antisemitism.  The other problem is that the discussions tend to draw in all the crypto-Nazi's and their opposites, the rabid Zionists. Both sides tends to assume that if your not kissing their arse then you must obviously must want to slash their throats. It really isn't a subject that lends itself to objectivity.

For the record I'm Eusemitic, i.e., I'm neither philo or antisemitic. Jews are not the villains that so many paint them nor are they the saints that Zionist element of the Cathedral would like you to think. Not belonging to any one camp seems to make me a traitor to both. Still, I like to think that I'm fair and try to be as objective as possible.

Objectivity, when it comes to Jewish issues, tends to be a rare thing and that's why the movie, The Gatekeepers,  is simply extraordinary.  Directed by Israeli Dror Moreh and done in the style of Errol Morris's Fog of War,  the film deals with the recollections and reflections of six former leaders of the Shin Bet, Israel's equivalent of MI5.  From a cinematographic point of view,  the film is nothing special but it power lays in the considered testimony of its six subjects.

The first thing that struck me was the "top notch" quality of the men who were speaking. Unlike the blathering goyim politicians and their technocrats, these were men who were clearly intelligent, humane and patriotic to their country.  By humane, I mean these men all seemed to want to wage war as "cleanly" as possible. Not that there was some sort of saintly concern for the Palestinians, rather, they all seem to recognise that the use of violence brings its own associated evils and thus should be minimised. The Vietnam war, a close analogue, caused huge damage to the Vietnamese but deeply wounded (and transformed negatively) American society as well.

All the speakers have blood on their hands, in the sense that all have organised the execution of terrorists but what's also apparent is that their actions seem more motivated by a desire to protect Israel rather than a hatred of the Palestinians. In fact, the overall impression I got from watching the movie was that the leaders of the Shin Bet were rather understanding of the Palestinian plight. As one of them wry observed, "One man's freedom fighter was another man's terrorist."  What really amazed me was the comment of Avraham Shalom, perhaps the most hawk like and morally "flexible" of them all, who compared the conduct of the state of Israel in the occupied territories to that of the Germans in the Second World War. I kid you not.

Their view is one from the "trenches". Despite their different perspectives and personal histories--they don't even like each other-- the speakers seem to realise that the occupation is having a blow-back affect on the state of Israel and want a deal to be cut with the Palestinians. It's not because they feel some moral duty towards the Palestinians, rather, they see the ongoing occupation as a corrupting influence on the Israeli state, eating it away from the inside. They are all disillusioned with their political masters whom they feel have no real desire to reach a compromise despite all their public pronouncements. I certainly got the impression that their willingness to speak on film came from a desire to have their side of the story heard and a collective feeling that the Israeli state has gone in the wrong direction. All of them feel that if the course doesn't change then the future will be bleak.

The film has had very little publicity here in Australia and is being shown in the smaller cinemas only. I'm not sure what its publicity is like in the rest of the Anglosphere.  If you have the opportunity I urge you to see it. Not for the cinematic experience but for the compelling testimonies presented. Outstanding. Note, the film needs to be understood not only as a Israeli-Palestinian thing, but seen in the wider context in terms of the limits of military power and of the corrupting nature of war.

Here is an interview with Droh Moreh about the movie. The really interesting part starts at the 3:00 minute mark.

Regular posters to my blog no know my commenting policy. I will delete at will any comments that misconstrue my position or are idiotic in any way.