The brutal recent history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is rivetingly recounted by some of its most prominent players in The Gatekeepers. Granted an extraordinary level of access to six former heads of Israel’s Shin Bet counter-terrorism agency, first-time documaker Dror Moreh achieves a powerful and remarkably clear-eyed assessment of how state-sanctioned violence, whether pre-emptive or retaliatory, has exacted a crippling moral toll on the region and its pursuit of peace.
Moreh’s coup lies in not only lining up the six men who oversaw Israel’s internal intelligence-gathering operations at various intervals from 1980 to the present, but in getting them to speak with such unprecedented and seemingly unguarded candour about their activities. While no film from the narrow perspective of Israeli intelligence could purport to offer a thorough view of the conflict, what makes The Gatekeepers ultimately so compelling is its pervasive sense of moral ambiguity. Although the men were interviewed separately, their voices ultimately coalesce into a sustained chorus of despair, decrying the futility of violence as a political imperative and the cruelty and corruption of Israel since the late ’60s.
Justin Chang, Variety