The Gatekeepers
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The Gatekeepers

Legacies of regret in some of the secret warriors of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The former heads of the Shin Bet.


Just about everyone, it seems, has an opinion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Pundits and their plaudits abound, historians peer into time, politicians speechify, and protesters of every stripe rage. Dror Moreh manages to offer his audience something new with The Gatekeepers, a documentary which examines the region’s history of troubles through the experiences of the Shin Bet, the Israel Security Agency.

Through interviews with six former heads of Shin Bet, along with the use of often graphic archival footage, Moreh presents a brutal, unflinching narrative of the triumphs, tragedies, humiliations, and crimes of an organization fighting what it believed to be a war on terror long before the term became popular. The Gatekeepers takes the viewer deep into the world of security and intelligence operations, suffusing us in its grey murk. A single sour note is the occasional use of CGI interludes when it comes to elements like maps and old files. The efforts to bring old photos to life can be jarring in the face of otherwise harsh realities, better fitting a Bourne flick, or a game of Call of Duty.

The documentary provides no easy answers: the interviews do not lionize, or paint simple portraits of tough men making hard choices. They are instead a display of those men in all their strengths and vulnerabilities, reflecting on their careers as shame and pride, as insight and blindness mingle.