J.J. Goldberg

Shin Bet Film Airs on TV Amid Right-vs.-IDF Tiff

By J.J. Goldberg

  • Print
  • Share Share
"The Gatekeepers"
Yaakov Peri

Israel’s state-owned Channel 1 Television aired the first part of a five-part miniseries version of “The Gatekeepers” on Sunday night. That’s the Oscar-nominated Israeli documentary in which all six living ex-directors of the Shin Bet security service criticize the government’s West Bank policies. According to Walla! News, the miniseries will include previously unseen material from the director’s hours of interviews with the six plus new documentary footage. Each segment is to be followed by live, roundtable discussions of the issues “for balance.”

Yediot Ahronot’s respected military analyst Ron Ben-Yishai, after watching the first episode, called it “even more important than the movie.” Eyal Levi of the conservative Maariv called it “required viewing.”

One thing that’s likely to result from the screening is a serious national discussion of the ex-Shin Bet leaders’ position, shared by most of the heads of the military and the Mossad, that peace with the Palestinians is achievable and within reach on terms that would make Israel more secure, not less so. Another likely outcome is an escalation of the tension that’s been growing in recent months between the security establishment and the political right.

Prime Minister Netanyahu had vowed not to see the movie when it was released this past winter. It remains to be seen whether he’ll stand firm once the miniseries airs and the rest of the country starts talking about it. Up to now, critics on the right have mostly directed their ire at the filmmaker, Dror Moreh, on the assumption that the film’s anti-occupation viewpoint can’t possibly represent the genuine opinions of all those security professionals. It’s “hardly a film that lets Shin Bet directors speak for themselves” (Alex Joffe, Jewish Ideas Daily). They were “they were manipulated by a film maker with an agenda” (Gidon Ben-zvi, Algemeiner). Moreh “should have laid greater emphasis on the swarms of suicide bombers that targeted and murdered more than 1,100 innocent Israelis during the second intifada” (Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post). And considering the funding the government provides to Israel’s struggling film industry, “we should find a means to bring an end to the lunacy of employing Israeli taxpayer funds to promote global anti-Israeli propaganda designed to defame the nation” (Leibler again).

Once the interviews hit the small screen—on state-owned TV, noch—it won’t be possible to pretend the film’s viewpoint is leftist, anti-Israel propaganda, as opposed to standard Israeli security doctrine. The interviewees will be showing up on live television to explain themselves. I spoke to several of them in January, after I’d seen the film, and they made it clear at the time that the film fully and accurately represented their views. In fact, as former Shin Bet director Ami Ayalon told me, if the film had avoided the political question of the occupation, “there would have been no point to the film.”

Another of the interviewees, Yaakov Peri, who was elected to the Knesset with Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party and now serves as minister of science and technology, declared in a lengthy Yediot Ahronot interview this past Friday that he’s about to launch a major campaign to win Israeli acceptance of the Arab Peace Initiative. Peri has spent the last few months heading up the so-called Peri Committee, which was in charge of crafting new legislation to bring Haredi or ultra-Orthodox Jews into military service.

The Peri Committee wrapped up its deliberations last week. Peri’s next big project will be convincing the government to accept peace negotiations based on a modified version of the pre-1967 armistice lines and a Palestinian state with its capital in east Jerusalem. Peri said he had hoped Yesh Atid would raise the peace process during the election campaign, but the party’s American consultant, Mark Mellman, had advised against it. He said he was disappointed, but intended to raise it as a member of the peace negotiations advisory committee headed by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni. He said he knew he and party leader Lapid disagreed on Jerusalem and other issues, “but Yesh Atid is a democratic party and the issue will be clarified when it reaches the agenda.”

Coincidentally, tensions between the military and the right came to a head on another front last week when IDF chief of staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz locked horns with Likud-Beiteinu representatives on the powerful Knesset foreign affairs and defense committee over the army’s rules of engagement with Palestinian rock-throwers. Recent months have seen a wave of rock-throwing and arson directed at settler homes and vehicles. In one incident in March the rocks allegedly caused a car to crash, critically injuring a toddler. Settlers have repeatedly marched and protested and in some cases retaliated in kind, but much of the anger has been directed at the military for what settler leaders see as excessive leniency. Most of the criticism has been directed at the chief of Central Command, Brig. Gen. Nitzan Alon, a longtime settler target because of his reputedly liberal views. But Gantz, who appointed Alon to the post, has stood by him and made it clear that the don’t-shoot orders come from the top.

Last Tuesday in the Knesset Gantz faced grilling and criticism from foreign affairs and defense committee chair Avigdor Lieberman and former Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin for a policy that they charged amounted to fleeing rather than confronting. Gantz replied that responding to rock throwing with live fire would escalate the tension into a regional conflagration, which touched off a new round of criticism from the right.

Thus the miniseries version of “The Gatekeepers” opens in an already combustible atmosphere.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Yesh Atid, Yair Lapid, Yaakov Peri, The Gatekeepers, Reuven Rivlin, Palestinian Violence, Nitzan Alon, Likud-Beiteinu, Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Jewish Ideas Daily, Israel Television, Isi Leibler, Dror Moreh, Gidon Ben-zvi, Avigdor Lieberman, Benjamin Netanyahu, Benny Gantz, Ami Ayalon, Algemeiner, Alex Joffe, jerusalem Post

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.