Directed by: Dror Moreh
A powerful and intriguing documentary about the Shin Bet — the Israeli Secret Service — as related by the six former surviving heads of that exclusive club. Told in Hebrew with English subtitles these six men allow themselves to be interviewed on camera for the first time ever, discussing their roll a “gatekeepers” for Israel’s security from the advent of the Six Day War to the present day. Each of the men candidly reflects on both their successes and failures to maintain security, for the State as their interviews are intercut with archival footage as well as computer-animated segments.
Shin Bet (The motto of which is "The unseen shield"), is one of three principal organizations of the Israeli Intelligence Community, alongside Aman (military intelligence) and the Mossad (foreign intelligence service). The agency is charged with overseeing Israel’s war on terror — both Palestinian and Jewish and each head of Shin Bet is present at the crossroad of every decision made, hence the film’s name. For its part, The Gatekeepers offers an intriguing and in-depth account of the not only their success but failures as well. Interestingly, it offers up reasons that each of the six men as well as all of them as a group has come to reconsider their hard-line positions and advocate a two-state Israeli/Palestinian solution.
These six men, men (Avraham Shalom (‘80–’86), Yaakov Peri (‘88–’95), Carmi Gillon (‘94–’96), Ami Ayalon (‘96–’00), and Avi Dichter (‘00–’05)) each agreed to share their insights and publicly reflect on their decisions and actions. The film — which was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 85th Academy Awards offers up a sobering look at what these men, and those that they protect, have been required to deal with since the founding of Israel in 1948. The film is a must-see for anyone interested in the events of the Middle-East, and while it doesn’t really offer up any answers to burning questions, it does present a solemn and thoughtful look into the issues that each of these men faced.
Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing films for some 30 years. During that time, his movie reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web. Subscribe to receive regular articles and movie reviews.