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Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Oscar nominates a 'documentary' that's pure fiction

Some of you might think we Israelis would be proud of having an Oscar-nominated film for Best Documentary. But most Israelis are not flocking to see The Gatekeepers, a film that spliced together interviews with the last six heads of Israel's General Security Service (roughly the equivalent of the FBI and the Secret Service rolled into one in the US). Jodi Rudoren reported on complaints about that in the New York Times last week.
“Most Israelis are not listening,” Mr. Ayalon, who ran the Shin Bet from 1996 to 2000, said in an interview. “When it is too tough, the easiest way to deal with it is to close our eyes and to close our ears.”
The big question is whether the 97-minute, $1.5 million “Gatekeepers” will change that. It has already captured the attention of the world: at least 10 American film critics, including two from The New York Times, put it in their best-of-2012 lists, and Israel’s Foreign Ministry gets inquiries almost daily from its embassies about how to handle the reaction in countries where “The Gatekeepers” will soon be screened. (After an Oscar-qualifying run last year the movie opens in New York and Los Angeles on Friday.)
Here in Israel the film has received positive reviews and praise by newspaper columnists since its festival premiere last summer and opening on Jan. 1 but has not exactly started a revolution. The issues it raises were not, for example, a factor in the elections on Tuesday. By last Sunday about 22,000 people here had seen the film — a lot for an Israeli documentary but still a tiny fraction of the population of nearly eight million. 


While public opinion polls show most Israeli Jews still support the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, increasing numbers have lost faith that it could happen in their lifetimes.
“The question is whether those people who believe there is no one to talk with, nothing to talk about, and we are condemned to go on fighting and killing for the next 10 generations — and they are supported and empowered by our political community — whether they will be open to see the different view,” Mr. Ayalon said. “Probably it is too difficult.”
Mr. Ayalon is a confessed liar, whose word cannot be trusted about anything. He belongs in jail for abuse of power during his term at the GSS.

But perhaps there are other reasons that Israelis aren't flocking to put their money on the table to see this film. Rick Richman reports that the film's claims to be the first to ever interview previous GSS chiefs are bogus. There were similar interviews in 2003. Richman reports on what happened as a result of those interviews.
On November 13, 2003, Israel's largest-circulation newspaper published a two-hour joint interview with all four ex-Shin Bet chiefs, with a front-page banner headline reading: “Four directors of [Shin Bet] warn: Israel in grave danger.” The New York Times reported the interview the next day; so did the Washington Post, on its own front page.
In Britain, the Guardian's story was headlined “Israel on road to ruin, warn Shin Bet chiefs.” CNN, ABC, Fox and almost all the important press in the world carried extensive coverage of the interview. The ex-Shin Bet chiefs urged Israel to start dismantling settlements even before reaching a peace agreement.
At the time of the 2003 interview, Israel was insisting that before negotiating a Palestinian state, the Palestinians had to stop their terror war against Israel. The war had commenced in September 2000, after Yasser Arafat was offered a state at Camp David – and walked away. In December 2000, the Clinton Parameters were presented to both sides: they were accepted by Israel and rejected by Arafat.
In April 2003, the Palestinians agreed to the “Performance-Based Roadmap,” which required dismantlement of their terrorist groups in Phase I before final status talks in Phase III. By November, 2003, they still had not done so. Prime Minister Sharon’s position remained that security must precede a Palestinian state — and that any shortcuts in the process would fail.
The bombshell 2003 interview was intended to force a change of course on Mr. Sharon, who had campaigned in 2001 on a promise to keep the Gaza settlements for Israeli security (because “the fate of Netzarim will be the fate of Tel Aviv”). A former president, Ezer Weizman, called the ex-Shin Bet leaders the “four musketeers” and castigated them for undermining the government. Mr. Sharon was deeply offended by the interview, but felt forced to change course.
Five weeks later Mr. Sharon shocked the Israeli public (and the United States) by announcing his disengagement plan. As it was developed over the next year, the plan involved the removal of every settlement and soldier from Gaza and dismantlement of four more settlements in Samaria (to show the policy would be “Gaza first, not Gaza last”). In Haaretz, Aluf Benn reported why Mr. Sharon adopted the plan:
[T]he fateful decision was made between November 10th and 17th, 2003. … The main topic was a joint interview in Yedioth Ahronot by four former chiefs of the Shin Bet … in which they warned that Sharon was leading the country to the abyss … [T]he former Shin Bet chiefs managed to shake Sharon’s self-confidence; he broke and agreed to unilateral withdrawal.
The rest is history: Israel withdrew from Gaza, and Gaza turned into Hamastan within a week. A new rocket war against Israel commenced from Judenrein Gaza, and Hamas took over the whole area in 2007 in a coup. Israel had to take military action to stop the rockets in 2008 and again in 2012. There is no realistic possibility of negotiating a Palestinian state while half of it remains in the hands of a terrorist group (and the other half in the hands of a Palestinian “president” currently in the ninth year of his four-year term).
In other words, the current film may be an attempt to force Prime Minister Netanyahu's hand much as Sharon's hand was forced in 2003. We've been there and done that and don't want to do it again. Perhaps that's a sign of maturity.

Another reason Israelis may not be flocking to see the film is that we know that at least one of the six, Yuval Diskin, holds a grudge against Netanyahu for not appointing him the head of the Mossad.

By the way, one Israeli who has no intention of seeing the movie is Prime Minister Netanyahu. This is Rudoren again.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the prime minister had not seen “The Gatekeepers” and had no plans to. Mr. Moreh, whose dream “is to go to the White House and show the film to Obama,” said Mr. Netanyahu had also not sent a message of congratulations about the Oscar nomination.
And if he wins?
“I’m not expecting him to call me,” Mr. Moreh said. “I would ask him to go and see the film and to think over what is said in the film from the people who are most responsible for the security of the state of Israel.”
The only people who will go to see this film in Israel are the Leftist true believers. For them - and for the unthinking Jews on the Upper West Side of Manhattan - this film is a dream come true. I'll bet it wins an Oscar. It fits their agenda.

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