It is a depressing reflection on our times that many of us heaved a sigh of
relief when neither of the two Israeli documentaries nominated for an Oscar
In the current perverted environment, it has become a
hallmark of left-liberal political correctness to project Israel as a racist and
colonial implant imposed on the Palestinian underdogs, even if that necessitates
a distortion of reality.
In Israel, practitioners of the arts, especially
film producers, are conscious that creating a work which besmirches their nation
enhances their prospects of achieving global recognition. That, in part,
explains why so many recent Israeli films with a social or political dimension,
designed for international consumption, have tended to be masochistically
critical and demeaning.
What makes this even more bizarre is that in many
cases, these rabidly anti-Israeli films are subsidized by the Israeli
This was exemplified by the Israel-bashing documentary 5 Broken
Cameras which depicts protests against the construction of the security barrier
in Bil’in without even a hint as to why a security barrier and checkpoints were
put there in the first place. It demonizes Israel’s administration of the
disputed territories and portrays the IDF as cruel, heartless tyrants, while
presenting Palestinians as noble underdogs.
It is co-directed by an
far-left Israeli who supports global boycott of his country and a hostile
Palestinian who had the chutzpah to demand that the government-subsidized
documentary not be designated as an Israeli production.
would consider it the height of insanity for the government to fund and
effectively bestow legitimacy on an enterprise engaged in a global campaign to
defame it, challenge its right to self-defense and delegitimize it.
other Oscar nomination, The Gatekeepers, raises far more complex issues. Yet it
is likely to inflict considerably greater damage to Israel’s standing than the
cruder propaganda production.
This documentary, directed by Dror Moreh,
is based on over 70 hours of interviews with six former heads of the Shin Bet
(Israel Security Agency) from 1980 to the present, all of whom served the nation
with distinction. We are unable to ascertain whether the extracts presented
reflect fair and balanced views of the participants but, to date, none of them
have protested that they were misrepresented.
The film unquestionably
portrays Israel negatively. It is presented as a colonial implant, and the film
is replete with harsh denunciations of alleged torture, racial discrimination,
targeted assassinations, needless violence and oppression in the disputed
territories. It depicts cruel military commanders “winning the battles but
losing the war.”
Avraham Shalom, one of the former Shin Bet heads,
initially states that “with terrorism there are no morals” and any measure to
save innocent lives is warranted. But toward the end of the film he remarks, “We
became cruel,” and challenges the morality of current policies. There is even an
obscene analogy made between Israeli and Nazi occupation policies – implying
that we practice genocide, ethnic cleansing and apartheid.
critical presentation raises other important issues. Without in any way
detracting from their service in defense of the state, we are not obliged to
treat these six former heads of Shin Bet as sacred cows. One is entitled to ask:
why did they remain silent in office and refrain from expressing such views
until their retirement? If they felt so strongly about these issues, why did
they not resign? There are surely serious questions of propriety involved when
senior intelligence officers, upon retirement, become bleeding hearts and engage
in publicly undermining the policies implemented throughout their own
Particularly so as this was not the first outburst of this
nature by former Shin Bet heads. In 2003, four former Shin Bet heads publicly
called for unilateral withdrawal. We are all conscious of the disastrous
consequences which resulted when Ariel Sharon implemented their recommendations
and uprooted the Gaza settlements. The territories ceded were immediately
overtaken by Hamas and employed to launch missiles deeper into
However, my principal ire is directed towards Dror Moreh who,
aware that his production could have major international impact, should at least
have placed the alleged suffering and victimization of Palestinians in context
and not dealt with such issues almost in isolation.
insufficient emphasis on the context of terror which obliges Israel to take
tough steps to to defend the lives of its citizens. He should have laid greater
emphasis on the swarms of suicide bombers that targeted and murdered more than
1,100 innocent Israelis during the second intifada; the genocidal hatred and
calls for the annihilation of the Jewish state; the brainwashing of Palestinian
children from kindergarten age upwards into believing that the highest Islamic
objective is martyrdom by killing as many Jews as possible; the impact on a
quarter of the Israeli population traumatized by 13,000 missiles launched
against them between 2005 and 2012, obliging them and their families to spend
much of their time in underground shelters.
He should have mentioned that
prime ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert were rebuffed after they had offered
95% of the territories over the Green Line to the Palestinian Authority and that
despite Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu imposing a 10-month settlement freeze
and calling for negotiations without preconditions, the Palestinians rejected
all these offers.
Instead, Moreh used his documentary to repeat the
mindless mantra “end the occupation.”
None of those interviewed suggested
that terror would end if Israel withdrew from the disputed territories nor did
they propose any constructive solutions.
They are fully cognizant that
the vast majority of Israelis yearn to separate themselves from the Palestinians
and have no desire to rule over them. But they realize that to do so
unilaterally, in the absence of adequate security arrangements, would
effectively be committing national suicide.
The fact is that Moreh
produced a film with an agenda which, according to former IDF chief of staff and
deputy prime minister Moshe Ya’alon amounted to a deliberate mission to promote
a distorted Palestinian narrative demonizing Israel.
confirmed this when he explicitly expressed the hope that President Barack
Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel would see
his film and be encouraged to exert greater pressure on the Israeli
There were protests that the government is employing taxpayer
funds to subsidize global anti-Israeli propaganda. Culture and Sport Minister
Limor Livnat expressed reluctance to introduce what she feared could be
condemned as political censorship. However she called on responsible film
producers to exercise restraint, knowing the severe damage they can inflict on
Israel in the war of ideas by pandering to the propaganda of our
She also urged them to acknowledge the sensitivities of the
thousands of Israelis who lost loved ones and suffered from Palestinian
We all look forward to the day when talented producers emerge
from our ranks who will create works displaying our extraordinary achievements
to the world and that, despite being the only nation in the world under
continuous existential threat, we remain a vibrant democratic state in this
regional cauldron of Islamic tyrannies.
In the meantime, without
implementing full blown censorship, we should find a means to bring an end to
the lunacy of employing Israeli taxpayer funds to promote global anti-Israeli
propaganda designed to defame the nation.
The writer’s website can be
viewed at www.wordfromjerusalem.com.
He may be contacted at