A War in the Shadows

With the current heated and bitter conflict in the Middle East between Israel and its unfriendly and hostile neighbors, many people rely on the media to receive news of the goings-on in the region. However, these people don’t get the real truth behind the conflict due to the bias behind the media. Israeli director Dror Moreh seeks to solve the problem with his new documentary, The Gatekeepers, which uses real life experiences from six retirees of secret Israeli safety agency Shin Bet. Shin Bet, also known as Shabak, was initially established in 1949 to address internal issues in the very new country of Israel, which was unfortunately divided due to ideological differences. But after the Six Day War of 1967, the organization was reoriented to gather intelligence in the West Bank and Gaza in order to counteract terrorism. This agency is independent from the Israel military and political structures, as its operatives answer directly to the prime minister and sometimes act as scapegoats for political failures. As the interviews of the six men show, Israel has not always been successful in its attempts to prevent conflict and has in fact resorted to fighting fire with fire in order to win out in the conflict. Some of these actions include a “targeted assassination” of Hamas militants (Hamas is a prominent Palestinian militaristic movement whose actions prevent peace between Arabs and Israelis), “moderate physical pressure” that could even be fatal to Palestinian prisoners of war, and other tactics used under the threat of occupation. These six men also address some controversial problems that have threatened to undermine Israeli politics, such as the deaths of 2 suspects in a bus hijacking in 1984 that led to the subsequent resignation of Shin Bet director Avraham Shalom and threatened the downfall of Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir’s regime. The agency also failed to act in time to predict the outbreak of the first Intifada and wasn’t able to stop the assassination of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by a right wing Jewish extremist in 1995. Yaakov Peri, who served as the director of Shin Bet during the first Intifada, states that the job makes one lean towards a left wing outlook. Although these left wing politicians favor a two state solution, they all share a professional philosophy of ruthless and sentimental pragmatism which only increases their worry about the current state of Israel politics. Overall, this documentary has a very dark mood due to the stories traded from the memories of eyewitnesses who were and are still privy to doubts and ambivalent emotions. It is through these emotion driven stories that the audience will learn of a collective history of past and present Israeli politics with unbelievable clarity from a fair minded perspective. This documentary is sure to shake the foundation of people’s beliefs, however extreme or moderate they are. The gears in the minds of the people will start to move and more strategic means will be taken to fix the mistakes of the past to ensure a safer and more profitable future for not only Israel, but the entire Middle East.

What do you think of the approach of this documentary? Do you think that exposing the truths of Israeli politics could compensate for the mistakes of the past? Will this help bring awareness and intrigue towards the situation in the Middle East? What are the possible implications of this documentary in Israel and the Middle East?

10 thoughts on “A War in the Shadows

  1. I think that this documentary is very important, especially right now. As violence between Israel and Hamas in Gaza escalates, I feel that people do not have enough insight into why Israel does what it does and vilify it without fully understanding its reasons. The conflict is a very dark thing and this documentary is definitely not a fun and light-hearted thing to watch, but I hope that it doesn’t deter people from watching this.

  2. I think the documentary is beneficial. While I don’t think exposing the truth now can make up for past mistakes, it’s important to know the truth in general, especially with politics. It’s important for people to know how things are really being run. I think the documentary will help bring interest to the Middle East. By exposing the truth behind Israeli politics, it will help make people more aware of the way things are and it may inspire them to take action based on their new found knowledge.

  3. This documentary is very revealing because it lets people know and makes them aware of the way the media handles information. Exposing the truths of Israeli politics is a difficult concept to understand in itself; the methods that are used to find out these supposed “truths” play a major factor in the content of these truths. The media twists and turns information in such a way that the public can be brainwashed. When the information is owned by people, they can change it into whatever they want. These are the reasons why the truths of Israeli politics is a tricky situation and people should think before they form opinions about it. One of the main things this will do is bring awareness to the public. This will help solve the problems in the middle east.

  4. The documentary definitely seems beneficial for information. The truth is dark sometimes, and it can hurt too. Our views are often skewed by media, and it’s not until we further look into the issue that we find the whole truth. Awareness is important. Both sides have their reasons, and no one is necessarily ‘better’ than the other. The documentary sounds to be well done, but it may not be well known. I think more people, especially myself, should watch more documentaries in general. They are often more informational and direct. In general, documentaries can become persuasive, but they are helpful.

  5. I think this documentary is extremely insightful because a lot of the things we see on television or read on the paper might be filtered or twisted to hide some important truths. As Aaron mentioned, the truth is dark and can hurt at times, but it is important that we learn these truths. Although the documentary might still be somewhat biased because the director is showing the parts he wishes to show, I think it is a lot more credible than what we see through other forms of media because he is using real life experiences from people from a secret Israeli safety agency.

  6. It is better for people to know the truth about reality rather than what the media wants people to believe. That way, people can make informed decisions and have informed opinions about what’s really going on. The radical and hateful views that many Americans hold toward middle eastern countries, people, and religion aren’t formed from true information. There exist people who despise Islamic peoples solely because of 9/11; this is ignorant, but the media hasn’t helped either. Islam is a religion of peace and brotherhood. “Islam” itself means peace.

    If the truth of reality was known, it would eliminate many incorrect and destructive notions of our fellowmen that disrupt the collective peace of our world.

  7. Any documentary can be extremely helpful and informative. It is the viewer’s job and objective to take the documentary for what it is and extract only the important and non-bias facts. Despite how left-wing the documentary may be, there are opportunities to learn about the historical and complicated conflicts between Israel and Palestine.

  8. I also believe that this documentary is beneficial. People should be exposed to what is going on and not kept in the dark. The more that people know about something, the more change that could be brought out.

  9. I think this documentary has a lot of potential for positivity, given the right publicity. Any exposé of media bias via media will be biased, however, as Jihae said. I like the approach of this documentary, but I do not believe we *can* have a truly unbiased source for information about Israeli politics and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, even if the creator of the source did not have vested interests in one side or the other.

    I think this movie’s exposition of the truth about what has happened in Israeli politics in the past will not be beneficial to the situation in the Middle East. On the Israelis’ side, people will laud the triumphs of the government and apologize for its failings without doing much to actually change the situation. I don’t think enough Palestinians will have access to this film for it to actually change anything in their country. The only thing it will really serve to do is expose to other people how poorly things in Israel have been run in the past.

    I don’t think this film’s exposition of “the truth” will compensate for the mistakes of past Israeli politicians, as it only talks about whatever the film’s creators want it to discuss, and therefore does not include all the short-fallings and all the achievements of the Israeli government.

    I think this film will fall short in its mission in that (a) it is *not* unbiased and (b) it is not gaining enough exposure to be very influential.

  10. This documentary is definitely intriguing. Although it won’t be able to compensate for the past, knowing the truth will help future generations. Solutions don’t arise immediately. It takes time for conflicts to resolve and documentaries like these that expose the truth will become beneficial. The Israeli conflict is indeed dark and filled with bloodshed, but light must be shone upon it.

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