Ex-Israeli security chiefs speak out in Oscar documentary nominee

Sat Feb 2, 2013 8:01am EST
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By Andrea Burzynski

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Oscar-nominated documentary "The Gatekeepers" focuses on Israel, but its director says that all countries can gain insight about the risks that arise if secretive security agencies operate without adequate restraints.

In "The Gatekeepers," six former heads of Israeli internal security and intelligence agency Shin Bet reflect on their failures and successes in gathering information on state enemies, orchestrating secret operations and tracking militants. They also offer some unexpected perspectives on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"I found myself more attracted to those who doubt, those who ask themselves questions," director Dror Moreh told Reuters. "I am always afraid of people who don't have questions, who don't doubt."

The English- and Hebrew-language film opened in New York and Los Angeles on Friday, and premieres in the UK in April, following a brief run at the end of 2012 that qualified it for its Oscar nomination for best documentary feature.

The film will compete at the February 24 Oscar ceremony with "5 Broken Cameras," a view of the Middle East conflict seen through Palestinian eyes, AIDS documentary "How to Survive a Plague," military rape film "The Invisible War," and "Searching for Sugar Man" about a U.S. folk singer who becomes a South African pop icon.

Beginning with Avraham Shalom, who oversaw the Shin Bet from 1980 to 1986, "The Gatekeepers" covers the period through Yuval Diskin, whose tenure ended in 2011.

The former security chiefs discuss events such as the agency-ordered killing of two Palestinian bus hijackers, a plot by Jewish extremists to blow up the Dome of the Rock shrine in Jerusalem, the 1995 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, and the role the agency plays in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.