‘‘The Gatekeepers’’ already has won several awards, including The National Society of Film Critics’ best nonfiction film award and the Los Angeles Film Critics Associations’ best documentary prize.
Among the highlights of the film are comments by Ami Ayalon, an ex-naval general who ran the Shin Bet from 1996 to 2000. ‘‘We’re winning all the battles ... and we’re losing the war,’’ Ayalon said.
Inside Israel, the film has not created as much of a buzz. Perhaps that’s because the Palestinian issue has been pushed to the backburner after four years of deadlock, or because people have grown numb to the conflict and no longer think peace is possible. But several Israeli columnists have said it should be required viewing for Israelis.
‘‘For lovers of Israel, the Oscar-nominated film is like a waterboarding of the soul,’’ Chemi Shalev wrote in the liberal Haaretz daily.
His colleague, Bradley Burstein, urged President Barack Obama to watch the film before he visits Israel next month. ‘‘Mr. President, if you haven’t already, watch ‘The Gatekeepers’ on the biggest screen you've got,’’ he wrote. ‘‘You need this writ large because these men explain Israel.’’
It’s unclear if Obama has seen the film, but one leader who definitely has not is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. His office said it wasn’t a matter of policy, but rather than the premier had more pressing matters to address.
Several retired security chiefs have expressed frustration toward Netanyahu, saying they waged years of war to provide security and calm environment for the political level to engage in a peace process and it hasn’t happened. Netanyahu blames the Palestinians for the deadlock.
‘‘We managed to lower the terror threat to a level that enabled Israelis to live a normal life for an extended period,’’ said Danny Yatom, a former military general and Mossad chief. ‘‘They didn’t take advantage of this period and did nothing with the calm.’’
After 35 years of service, Yatom joined the dovish Labor Party and became of staunch supporter of a two-state solution with the Palestinians.
‘‘Part of the dovish outlook comes from the realization that a conflict between people cannot be solved by military means alone. It has to be integrated with diplomacy,’’ he told the AP. ‘‘We have to be strong and fight terror with all our might but military actions can only suppress terror. ... You can’t defeat it entirely without a diplomatic option.’’
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