Israel’s intelligence sector examined in Oscar-nominated  Gatekeepers

by Mark Burger

Dror Moreh’s deservedly Oscar-nominated documentary The Gatekeepers offers an in-depth exploration into the inner workings of the Shin Bet, the Israeli Security Agency, charged with maintaining state security, investigating terrorist activities and, if necessary, taking steps to eliminate terrorist threats.

The talking heads here belong to those men who have overseen the operations of the Shin Bet, many of them speaking on the record for the first time about their involvement. The film does not condemn or condone the actions of the Shin Bet, nor does Moreh overemphasize the moral ramifications of said actions. As its former heads admit, the Shin Bet has tended to adopt a policy that the ends justify the means — any means.

Given the ongoing turbulence of the region, such an attitude may be nothing if not prudent. Yet these actions have had consequences that extend far beyond Israel’s borders, and possibly have done more harm than good in the long run.

Thought-provoking and fascinating in equal measure, The Gatekeepers provides a rare insight into a region — and the mindset of that region — that resonates and lingers long after the credits have rolled. In a perfect, idealized world, it’s almost depressing that the Shin Bet must exist — and the same could be said of any nation’s intelligence sector (including our own) — yet that’s the way of the world.

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