The Gatekeepers Documentary About the Israeli Shin Bet

The Gatekeepers Documentary About the Israeli Shin Bet

The Gatekeepers
3 stars
Rated PG-13 for violent content including disturbing images
Available on: DVD, Blu-ray and on demand

Director Dror Moreh’s documentary about the Israeli Shin Bet was one of five films competing for best documentary at the most recent Academy Awards, and it will fascinate anyone who enjoys studying history and current events. The Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency, plays a major role in many of the nation’s political policies, and Moreh convinced six of the organization’s former leaders to go on the record. This is noteworthy not only because of what they say, but because this is the first time they’ve agreed to talk openly about their work.

Viewers who know Israeli history will find the project especially intriguing, but even those with only a moderate knowledge of world affairs should enjoy. Moreh’s six interviewees drive the film, and they talk about everything from Shin Bet history to the morality of torture and political assassinations. The subject matter is enticing, and it’s easy to see similarities between Israel’s historic security problems and those we face in the U.S. today.

Out of necessity, “The Gatekeepers” is centered on the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Although one might expect the former Shin Bet directors to be militant hardliners, they come off as progressive. In fact, most seem to support the eventual creation of an independent Palestinian state. This does not mean, however, that all Israelis feel the same.

“The Gatekeepers” notes that some Israeli political groups will do anything to derail peace talks and that these organizations can be just as problematic as external terrorists. The film delivers a prime example with the 1995 assassination of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. He was shot and killed by an Israeli man who opposed Rabin’s peace talks with Palestinians.

“The Gatekeepers,” presented almost entirely in Hebrew with English subtitles, does not attempt to solve Israel’s current security problems. Instead, it shines as both an excellent history lesson and a remarkably in-depth look at one of the world’s most important covert agencies.

DVD and Blu-ray extras include a commentary and Q&A with Moreh.

By Forrest Hartman

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