'The Gatekeepers' is an eye-opening look at Israel's past – and possibly its future
All of the men interviewed – Avraham Shalom, Yaakov Peri, Carmi Gillon, Ami Ayalon, Avi Dichter, and Diskin – come across as ruminative and, in varying degrees, remorseful. They share a belief in the curtailment of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and the granting of Palestinian statehood. They believe Israeli politicians have not done enough to make this happen. Peri, who ran Shin Bet from 1988 to 1994, during the first intifada leading to the Oslo peace accords, says: “You knock on doors in the middle of the night – these moments end up etched deep inside you. I think, after retiring from this job, you become a leftist.”
But their attitudes are much more complicated than this. Shalom, for example, in his 80s, is characterized by some in the film as a tyrant despite the fact that, with his cuddly jowls and red suspenders, he might have stepped out of an Israeli Pepperidge Farm commercial.
About the aftermath of the Six Day War, in which more than a million Palestinians suddenly came under military rule, he says, dryly: “When the Arabs surrendered, we had no enemy. It was lucky for us. We had work.”
His Waterloo was the 1984 Bus 300 incident, in which two Palestinians hijacked a bus from Tel Aviv to Ashkelon, were captured, interrogated, and then executed, leading to a national uproar. “With terrorists, there are no morals,” he says. “In the war against terror, forget about morality.”
Ayalon has contempt for that attitude, saying “We killed them with their hands tied.”