Shin Bet chiefs offer bleak outlook in new documentary

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Go read Shlomi Eldar’s riveting account on the front page of a recent Tel Aviv screening of “The Gatekeepers,” an Israeli documentary featuring Israel’s former Shin Bet chiefs offering bleak views of Israel's lack of strategic direction:

The film The Gatekeepers was over. The credits started running down the screen in Tel Aviv’s Cinemateque … and a tense silence filled the theater. … When [the lights] did go on in the end, the real faces of those very people after whom this film was named — the six former heads of the Shin Bet [Israel National Security Agency] — could be seen seated in the hall. … Now that the film was over, even they seemed stunned. […]

In this film Dichter and his five colleagues in the Shin Bet slaughtered almost all the sacred cows of Israel’s security apparatus one after the other. The very people who fought terrorism day after day were unequivocal in their condemnation of the policies that they themselves carried out throughout their long service to the country. [...]

Ami Ayalon described growing up on a kibbutz near the Sea of Galilee. “I had a wonderful childhood,” he said. “I knew that there's a house in Jerusalem, and on the second floor there’s a long corridor. At the end of the corridor there's a door, and behind the door is a wise man, who makes decisions. ….”

Then the camera returned to Ayalon’s worried face as he carried on with his story. …“Years later, after the Yom Kippur War [1973], I went to Jerusalem, and I went to that same building. I was on the second floor, and found no door at the end of the corridor, and behind the missing door, no one was thinking for me.” [...]

The theater was left tongue-tied once the screening was over. Almost automatically, however, everyone turned their silent eyes to those six men, who once stood at the head of the system, but have since become its harshest critics. “Where were you all these years?” everyone seemed to be asking. “Why are you only waking up now, when the clock is about to strike twelve? Why didn’t you start screaming about this earlier?” [...]

(Photo: Yuval Diskin, one of several chiefs of Israeli domestic security interviewed in the documentary “The Gatekeepers,” delivers a speech in Tel Aviv, Nov. 1, 2010. (photo by REUTERS/Nir Elias)

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