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By Global Public Square staff
This year, Oscar-nominated movies had a strong tie to real geopolitical events – and they’ve got everyone watching and talking.
Zero Dark Thirty was all about the race to catch Osama bin Laden, and senators and CIA directors have all weighed in on the movie. Argo told the story of six American diplomats who managed to escape Iran at the height of the 1979 hostage crisis, and Michelle Obama presented it with the Best Picture prize.
But there is a major leader who says he has no interest in watching an Oscar-nominated movie about his own country. We will get to the world leader in a moment, but, first, the movie.
It is The Gatekeepers. The documentary is about Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service. No one has ever interviewed any one of its leaders on camera. The Gatekeepers talks to six of them, the last six directors to retire. It is unprecedented to hear top Israeli spies discuss issues like collateral damage or the morality of killing terrorists, but, in this film, they do.
They are honest about the methods they had to use, deadly, brutal, effective. All of them believed that these methods were justified given Israel's circumstances, ruling over millions of Palestinians with terrorist groups operating among them. But what was stunning to hear is that all of them believed the only real solution for Israel was to end the occupation now. Take a look at the video for these clips from the film.
Former Shin Bet Director Avraham Shalom says Israelis have become cruel: “The future is bleak. It’s dark, the future. Where does it lead? To change in the people’s character. On the other hand, it’s a brutal occupation force.”
He goes on to say the army has become a brutal occupation force similar to the Germans in World War II.
Another says this: “We win every battle, but we lose the war.”
And one this: “One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.”
These are the kinds of words you'd usually hear from radicals and left-wing doves in Israel. The film is getting some attention there. More than 50,000 Israelis have seen the film, a pretty substantial number for a documentary.
But, as I mentioned earlier, one very important person hasn't watched it and says he has no plans – the prime minister of Israel. Benjamin Netanyahu is likely to form a coalition and begin a new term as prime minister this month. One of his first big projects will be to welcome President Obama to his country. Obama will be making his first visit to Israel as president. What will they discuss? For sure Iran and, of course, they'll discuss Syria and the unrest across the Arab world.
But The Gatekeepers is a reminder that the questions of what to do about the Palestinian territories that Israel has now occupied for almost 50 years should also get on the agenda.
At least, that’s the message I got from the last six directors of Shin Bet; men who have devoted their lives to defending the State of Israel. Maybe they know something.