Adam L. Silverman, PhD*
Not to horn in on BG Farrell's movie reviews here at SST, but I recently saw a documentary and wanted to bring it to the attention of the SST community. About two weeks ago I was asked to go with our former USMC senior service rep here at the US Army War College to see the new Israeli documentary The Gatekeepers by Dror Moreh. The Gatekeepers is an oral history of Israel's internal security and intelligence service - Shin Bet. Moreh's documentary is built around in depth interviews with the last six Shin Bet directors and spans events from the 1960s through to the last several years, combined with archival footage and computer generated reenactments. In fact the documentary's production was delayed until the most recent former director, Yuval Diskin, retired and could be interviewed for and part of the project. Moreh was able to get the project going, which features the first public interviews with any of these men, because one of the former directors, Ami Ayalon was willing to be interviewed after being elected to the Knesset from the Labor Party. It was Ayalon who helped convince his peers to participate.
Moreh's documentary is divided into seven segments and includes such controversial topics as the 300 bus incident, the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin, and breaking up the Israeli Jewish extremist attempts to blow up the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount. For me one of the most interesting portions of the film was when Yaakov Peri, who ran Shin Bet from 1988 to 1994, referred to Palestinian's who had engaged in attacks on Israel as melkhamim. Melkhamim is Hebrew for warriors. All the other former directors referred to Palestinian attackers as terroreest, which, as you can tell, is the transliteration word imported into Hebrew for terrorist. The documentary was excellent and I cannot recommend it highly enough to the SST community. If you're interested in counter-terrorism, intelligence, counterintelligence, and/or the Israeli/Palestinian dispute you need to see it if it is in your area. All six of the former directors interviewed demonstrated significant nuance in regards to their assignments, their adversaries, the problems Israel faces, and the politicians they work for.
* Adam L. Silverman is the Culture and Foreign Language Advisor at the United States Army War College. The views expressed here are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Army War College and/or the US Army.