The commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the start of the Iraq War has re-introduced heated debate over the Bush administration’s presentation of clearly false information regarding Iraq’s weapons program and their involvement in the 9/11 attacks, all of which draws attention to the politics behind wartime decisions, especially when abuses of the War Powers Act allow an administration to seize initial control of the process from Congress. Dror Moreh’s Academy Award-nominated feature documentary The Gatekeepers explores the grey areas of national security, not from an American perspective, but rather through the cold survivalist logic of the leaders of Shin Bet, Israel’s secret security force, which operates as a separate (but not exactly disconnected) arm of the Israeli government.
These leaders highlight the very real split between their goals and those of the nation’s political leaders. Israeli security is about survival at all costs and cares little for public justification, although, depending on the enemy and the situation, there’s a sense that certain rules of engagement can be applied. The Gatekeepers offers an example for us to consider, one that we should take advantage of because hearing the cold hard truths may be difficult, but no less so than dealing with the complex realities. As citizens, we all have a responsibility, which I think is what separates Americans from Israelis. Somehow, it seems, in the voices of these leaders, we are also hearing from the people themselves, a nation that understands certain actions must be taken that are far from ideal, but what other choice is there? (PG-13) Grade: A