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  • February 23, 2013

    The Dishonesty of ‘The Gatekeepers’

    Using Documentary as Manipulation

    By Roz Rothstein and Roberta Seid
    The JPost

    Dror Moreh’s documentary, The Gatekeepers, could have been a profound film.

    Instead, Moreh uses his interviews with six former directors of Israel’s top security services to send a simplistic and deeply partisan political message: If Israel withdraws from the West Bank, terrorism will subside and peace will break out.

    To promote this message, the documentary engages in intellectual dishonesty and omits critical context. While most Israelis know the wider context, the average viewer probably does not, and therefore is vulnerable to the filmmaker’s biased version of the facts.

    Though the film tries to portray Israel’s antiterrorism policies as counterproductive and cruel, the interviews inadvertently tell a different story. The six directors are well-spoken, deeply thoughtful, and genuinely self-critical.


    They exude gravitas as they describe wrestling with the moral quandaries they regularly faced.

    They are not cruel men. They sincerely grappled with how to protect Israelis and Palestinian civilians alike. Their descriptions of the Shin Bet’s legal and ethical constraints are a testament to Israel’s high moral standards. Their comfort in speaking freely is a testament to Israel’s robust democracy.

    However, the film repeatedly ignores history and context. It blames Israel for the Palestinian hostility and violence that occurred after 1967, when Israel began administering the West Bank.

    The viewer never learns from the film that terrorism against Jews and Israelis was not a result of Israel’s administration but rather has been a regular feature of life since pre-state days.

    Palestinian Arabs murdered over 1,000 Jews between 1920 and 1967, and they ethnically cleansed all Jewish communities from the areas they captured during the 1948 war, including the West Bank, Gaza and eastern Jerusalem. The pattern of terrorism simply continued after Israel’s victory in its 1967 defensive war. Yasser Arafat organized 61 Fatah military operations from the West Bank in the few months after the war, and 162 Israelis were killed by terrorists between 1968 and 1970.

    Visually and verbally, the film portrays Israel as a heartless occupier. Audiences get no information about how harsh life was for Palestinians under Egyptian and Jordanian rule between 1948 and 1967, with rampant childhood diseases, economic stagnation and restricted civil and political rights. In addition, the documentary completely overlooks the big picture of positive Israeli-Palestinian relations after 1967.

    Even as Israel sought to stop terrorists, it also instituted Palestinian municipal self-government and administration, introduced freedom of speech and association, and vastly modernized the Palestinian economy as well as Palestinian health, welfare and education, turning the West Bank and Gaza into the world’s fourth fastest growing economy in the 1970s and 1980s.

    In line with his political agenda, Moreh tries to paint all religious Israelis, settlers and rightof- center parties as extremist and intransigent.

    The film insinuates that just as many Palestinians are terrorists and incite hatred, so do many Jews. For proof, Moreh magnifies selected incidents, particularly the case of Jewish settlers from Hebron who formed the “Jewish Underground” in 1980.

    The film would have audiences believe the Jewish Underground, which wounded two Palestinian mayors, murdered three Palestinians, and plotted to blow up four Palestinian buses and the Dome of the Rock, is fairly representative of most settlers. It is not. Save for the handful of members of the Jewish Underground, Israel does not have Jewish terrorist organizations.

    While extremists exist in Israel as in any society, the overwhelming majority of settlers, both religious and secular, are law-abiding citizens.

    The country as a whole condemns and marginalizes such extremism. The Shin Bet arrested the Jewish Underground leaders in 1984, and the Israeli government and the vast majority of Israelis, including other settlers, denounced the group, though some Israeli leaders at the time continued to express concerns about the lack of government protection for Hebron’s Jews.

    Similarly, because the sentences meted out to the Jewish Underground’s leaders were commuted, the film implies that the Israeli government has been “soft” on Jewish extremists and uses double standards, treating Jewish terrorists far more leniently than Palestinian terrorists.

    But these members were freed only after serving almost seven years, not because Israel was “soft” on Jewish terrorists but because Israel had released the very Palestinian prisoners who had perpetrated the attacks that drove the Jewish Underground to organize.

    SUCH OMISSIONS of fact and context continue throughout the film. Moreh makes the Shin Bet’s actions seem immoral or counterproductive by minimizing the context of terrorism.

    Moreh glosses over the impact of the second intifada (2000-2005), yet the horrors of its terrorism and the fanatical hatred that motivated suicide bombers decimated Israel’s peace camp, a critical fact that the film simply overlooks. The audience does not learn that almost 1,100 Israelis were murdered and thousands more maimed by terrorists during the second intifada.

    More disappointingly, the film never alludes to the daunting challenge these Shin Bet directors faced. Israel is fighting terrorists who routinely hide among Palestinian civilians precisely to shield themselves from IDF attacks because they know the IDF tries to avoid harming innocent bystanders. Pressed by the interviewer to admit that the Shin Bet’s actions were immoral during his tenure (1981-1986), Avraham Shalom finally snaps back: “This isn’t about morality…. When the terrorists become moral, we’ll be moral.”

    Nor does the film depict the nature of the enemy Israel faces. Hamas’ genocidal ideology never comes up in the interviews. Yet the goals of Hamas, clearly expressed in its charter and its leaders’ statements, call for the murder of Jews and the “obliteration” of Israel, and are suffused with anti-Semitism. The film ignores the relentless incitement to hate and kill Jews that pervades Palestinian society officially and unofficially.

    The film never explores the significance of what one Shin Bet director heard from a PLO terrorist he interrogated: terrorists consider it a victory when they make Jews suffer.

    More disturbingly, the viewer never learns that Israel has repeatedly tried to do precisely what Moreh advocates. The film never mentions Israel’s offers to trade land for peace in 1967, 1979, 2000 and 2008, or that Palestinian leaders systematically rejected these offers.

    Moreh wants audiences to share his wishful thinking, that Israel can end the conflict simply by withdrawing from the West Bank. But recent history, omitted from the film, contradicts this expectation. Israel pulled out of its security zone in Lebanon in 2000 and removed every settlement and over 8,000 Israelis from Gaza in 2005. The results were escalating threats and terrorism from Iranian proxy Hezbollah in Lebanon and from Iranian client Hamas in Gaza, which fired over 13,000 rockets and mortars into Israel’s southern communities between 2005 and 2012.

    The documentary should be credited for revealing how much Israelis have retained their humanity and their hopes for peaceful coexistence, as exemplified by the Shin Bet directors.

    This is a tribute to the Israeli spirit and to Israel’s enduring search for peace, but it also underscores Israel’s tragic dilemma: Israelis want peace, but they cannot find partners for peace unless, like Moreh, they turn a blind eye to the ongoing hostility and threats against them.

    Moreh’s effort to blame Israel and the Shin Bet’s actions for the ongoing hostility to the Jewish state is like blaming the victim who is defending himself instead of blaming the perpetrator.

    The Gatekeepers‘ material could have produced a profound film if it had not been sacrificed for a political message and if the film had been more intellectually honest and included the historical pattern of genocidal ideology, the ongoing violence, and the existential strategic challenges that Israel faces every day. It is these hard realities and that make the Shin Bet’s work so crucial and so heroic.

    Roz Rothstein is the CEO and co-founder of StandWithUs. Roberta Seid, PhD, is the research and education director of StandWithUs.

  • Posted by Ted Belman @ 6:57 pm | 65 Comments »

    65 Comments to The Dishonesty of ‘The Gatekeepers’

    1. CuriousAmerican says:

      @ yamit82:
      (3) The genealogical line linking Jesus and King David seems to pass through Jesus’ father. But since Jesus was the product of a virgin conception, then he does not share in his father’s Davidic ancestry. How is Jesus a descendent of David?

      Since you brought it up …

      Check here. http://christiananswers.net/dictionary/mary-motherofjesus.html

      - or -

      http://www.bibletools.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Topical.show/RTD/cgg/ID/4201/Davidic-Lineage-Jesus.htm

      The geneology of Luke traces through the Mother, Mary. She is a descendent of David,also.

      Some try to muddy up the water, but Luke’s Davidic geneology is through Mary as well.

      For Pete’s sake … do some research man. Most rabbinical criticism of Christianity falls on their faces.

      They bring up straw men (fall arguments) and knock down what was never an issue.

      Luke has the matrilineal descent.

      I would get into more, but Ted does not want theological debate.

    2. CuriousAmerican says:

      @ yamit82:
      (1) The Gospels teach that Jesus appeared to the disciples after his resurrection. We are unclear, however, whether those appearances took place in Jerusalem or in the Galilee (or at both locales). According to our reading, the Galilean accounts seem to rule out prior Jerusalem appearances. Where did Jesus actually appear? If he appeared in Jerusalem, how should we read the Galilean accounts?

      Different times!

      I was in New York in one afternoon; and in New Jersey a few hours later.

      Since Jesus was both God and man, distance was not an obstacle.

      Yamit82, you can do better than this.

      I would get into more, but Ted does not like theological debate.

    3. yamit82 says:

      Alex Markin Said:

      I would not use the term pagan to describe them, unless by definition all religions are pagan, as they do worship inanimate objects by granting them or inventing for them divine providence.

      My working definition is any belief and believer that is not monotheistic. Judaism (Orthodox) considers Triune Christianity to be Pagan but not Islam for example. All religions except Judaism in the ancient world were therefore Pagan because all were Polytheists, all or most nature/fertility religions. The Jesus narrative compares favorably in that context.

      I believe it was a religion invented by Constantine in order to unite the Roman empire, at least the part he held after a very long and bloody civil war. Until that time, there was no single religion in the Roman empire. The temples of the mythological Roman gods still stood in Rome and their priests still practised their ceremonials there, but in other parts of the empire all the local cults still operated and, despite the official Roman opposition to them, in practice even the Roman soldiers stationed in different parts of the empire (many of whom were locally-recruited mercenaries anyway) had their own Romanised versions of the local cults. Surprising as it may seem (especially to christians), the Hebrew religious tradition was only widespread, established “religion” that existed at that time. There were Hebrews everywhere, a result of the two major deportations we suffered in the course of our history – first at the hands of the Babylonians in 597 and 586 BCE, and then at the hands of the Romans themselves in 68 CE. But the Hebrew tradition was totally unsuited to Constantine’s purpose, because it has no fear elements at all, just One kind, merciful and loving G-d. So he inserted Pagan fear elements like Hades (hell)etc.

    4. yamit82 says:

      dionissis mitropoulos Said:

      Alex i don’t think Yamit answers for the benefit of Curious American, but rather for the benefit of readers who would like to see proper and informative responses to to Curious American’s points.

      BINGO!!!

    5. andrew says:

      @ yamit82:

      I went cage diving with the great whites over summer which was pretty amazing. A long 13 hour drive to port lincoln but worth it

      I was talking to a lawyer friend last week and asked him whether he knew prisoner x. he said i knew you would ask me that. He said he knows people who knew him. They were very surprised he got recruited.

      Its funny last time we spoke we spoke about an aussie texas bbq. Because my son invited 2 texan students over for christmas day. I joked with them that they soumded nothing like dubya.

    6. yamit82 says:

      @ CuriousAmerican:

      THE FIRST MESSIANIC CRITERIA IS GENEALOGY: Of the six primary Jewish messianic criteria, the only one that the Christian Bible claimed for Jesus was genealogy. The Messiah ben David must be Jewish, from the Tribe of Judah, from the seed of King David, and from the seed of King Solomon.

      He must be Jewish. One is Jewish if their mother is Jewish.

      He must be from the tribe of Judah. Under Jewish law, tribal affiliation is through the birth father only. Since Jesus allegedly had no human father, he had no tribal affiliation. Therefore, Jesus was not from the tribe of Judah and is eliminated from messianic consideration.

      The book of Chronicles in the Jewish Bible lists the genealogy of Abraham through King David plus an additional 29 descendants. The Gospels of Matthew and Luke provide conflicting genealogies for Jesus in an unsuccessful attempt to demonstrate that Jesus fulfilled the messianic criteria of genealogy.
      Matthew and Luke made numerous mistakes in their so-called “genealogies” of Jesus that eliminate him from messianic consideration.

      ( He must be from the House of David.
      Matthew and Luke traced Jesus’ lineage through Joseph back to King David. However, the Gospels assert that the “holy spirit” was Jesus’ father (not Joseph). There is no indication in the Gospels that Joseph ever adopted Jesus although under Jewish law certain family and tribal affiliations must be through the birth father and cannot be claimed by adoption. For example, if a Jewish priest, (a Cohen), has a male child, he has the status of a priest by birthright. However, if he adopts a child whose birth father was not a Cohen, the child does not have the status of a priest like his adopted father. Since Joseph was not Jesus’ birth father, there is no evidence in the Gospels that Jesus was from the house of David, which cannot be conferred through adoption under Jewish law. This eliminates Jesus from messianic consideration.

      He must be from the Seed of Solomon. According to prophecy, the Messiah ben David must descend through David’s son Solomon. Not only was Solomon a king, he built the first Temple, which has profound messianic implications. Matthew claimed that Jesus descended through Solomon but Luke claimed that Jesus descended through Nathan, David’s other son (who was not a king). This eliminates Jesus’ genealogy through Luke.

      A Fifteen Generation Difference: Luke’s genealogy from David to Jesus is fifteen generations longer than Matthew’s genealogy from David to Jesus. This undermines the Christian claim that the Gospels are the “word of God,” because God certainly knows the genealogy of King David. Some Christians attempt to solve this fatal problem by claiming that Luke’s genealogy is actually that of Mary, although Mary is not mentioned in Luke’s genealogy. Further, this claim is rendered meaningless by the fact that Jewish law only recognizes tribal affiliation through the father. Even if one could consider the genealogy of the mother, if one assumes a generation is at least twenty years, this means that Joseph was at least three hundred years older than his wife (fifteen extra generations times twenty years per generation equals a three hundred year difference in their ages). This gives new meaning to the idea of a “May-December” relationship.

      Who was Jesus’ Grandfather? The two “genealogies” do not agree on the identity of Jesus’ grandfather. According to Matthew, Jesus’ grandfather was Jacob and according to Luke he was Heli. This creates another devastating contradiction, further undermining the credibility of the genealogies given for Jesus by Matthew and Luke.

      PAUL AND THE GENEALOGIES: The apostle Paul was the putative author of the Epistles Titus and Timothy, which subtly address the issue of Jesus’ genealogy:

      “But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless.”(Titus 3:3)
      “…nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than Godly edification which is in faith.” (1 Timothy 1:4)

      CONCLUSION: The flawed and contradictory genealogies in Luke and Matthew are extremely problematic since genealogy is the only authentic messianic criteria that the Christian Bible claims that Jesus fulfilled. Jesus is eliminated from messianic consideration because of the myriad of errors and problems in both Matthew and Luke’s genealogies.

    7. yamit82 says:

      andrew Said:

      @ yamit82:
      I went cage diving with the great whites over summer which was pretty amazing. A long 13 hour drive to port lincoln but worth it
      I was talking to a lawyer friend last week and asked him whether he knew prisoner x. he said i knew you would ask me that. He said he knows people who knew him. They were very surprised he got recruited.
      Its funny last time we spoke we spoke about an aussie texas bbq. Because my son invited 2 texan students over for christmas day. I joked with them that they soumded nothing like dubya.

      You got more guts than me I don’t want to get anywhere near the beasts even protected by hard steel.

      The Mossad a long time ago tried o recruit me. I was never asked back so I guess for them and their purposes I’m too normal. :D

    8. andrew says:

      I think you are way braver than me. You fought in the first lebanon war.

    9. dionissis mitropoulos says:

      CuriousAmerican Said:

      @ dionissis mitropoulos:
      Who is Jesus?

      Click here (Who is Jesus?)

      If you are genuine, and not playing stupid, that is a good place to start?

      I know Jesus, he is as well known as Coca Cola, and in Greece we are being taught Christian Orthodoxy at school (i was top grades student in everything except this course because i never paid attention. I was an atheist anyway, since early age). But i was not “playing stupid”, i was just making a humorous response (addressed to you in good will) by pretending not to know Jesus. Sort of banter.

    10. yamit82 says:

      @ dionissis mitropoulos:

      Thought you knew, dweller is humorlessly defensive and very compulsive. He always must have the last word.

    11. dionissis mitropoulos says:

      @ yamit82:

      I am not allowed to comment on the issue, we are both him and me on probation.

    12. andrew says:

      @ yamit82:

      How are things with you Yamit?

      Btw, what did you think of walz with bashir?

    13. yamit82 says:

      andrew Said:

      @ yamit82:
      How are things with you Yamit?
      Btw, what did you think of walz with bashir?

      Didn’t see it! I’m not that much of a masochist.

    14. Bernard Ross says:

      yamit82 Said:

      this means that Joseph was at least three hundred years older than his wife (fifteen extra generations times twenty years per generation equals a three hundred year difference in their ages). This gives new meaning to the idea of a “May-December” relationship.

      sounds like the “Twisted Pretzel” theory is at work again :).

    15. Bernard Ross says:

      yamit82 Said:

      this means that Joseph was at least three hundred years older than his wife . This gives new meaning to the idea of a “May-December” relationship.

      The “Twisted Pretzel” theory is at work again :).

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