Shin Bet, Israel Lobby vs. Mideast peace
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) speaks during a cabinet meeting.
If someone had told me that a filmmaker was trying to get all the living heads of Israel’s internal security, Shin Bet, to sit down for long in-depth interviews about if and how their work had any lasting benefit for Israel, I would have bet that it would never happen… and lost my money.
If I had been given a chance to go double or nothing on all these chiefs effectively saying that they were betrayed by their political establishment, who they now realize never had any real intentions of pursuing a peace, I would have been cleaned out. But fortunately I do not bet. My life has been full of surprises.
We have already had a backdrop over the past few years of Israel’s past Mossad and Military Intel chiefs going public that they thought the Likud Party pushing for an attack on Iran was crazy. Ex-Mossad chief Meir Dagan was on 60 Minutes with Leslie Stahl in March of 2012 for a memorable interview.
But filmmaker Dror Moreh pulled six Shin Bet rabbits out of the hat. He has produced an amazing historical documentary feature, raised the bar for the rest of us, and caught himself an Oscar nomination. Now it is time for the rest of us to roll up our sleeves and push the new revelations ball down the road.
But more first on the making of this film, where getting started is always the hardest part: In Moreh’s case it was getting one of the Shin Bet ex-chiefs on board to get the project rolling. He chose Ami Ayalon (1996-2000). The key for him was Moreh’s using the Errol Morris film, The Fog of War, featuring Robert McNamara, which Ayalon had seen and liked. He also agreed to contact all the other Shin Bet leaders and ask them to consider the project.
The result was sixty to seventy hours of video footage and a hundred total when you include preparation and background interviews. This all got cut down to 96 minutes - an editing process I can personally share with you is a torture for all you have to leave out. I would have made a six-hour television series but then would have lost the film festival circuit.
In his Democracy Now interview Moreh gave some of the credit to good timing. These Shin Bet heads had been struggling for years with the futility of all they had done for ‘security’ not advancing the peace process. They lay much blame on the Israeli political leadership, or I could say the lack thereof. The other shocking revelation is that all felt that the continued occupation was dragging the future on Israel down a dead-end road.
Surprisingly, Dror Moreh was able to keep editorial control over the film. All six interviewees saw the film for the first time at the Jerusalem film festival. None were displeased, and Ayalon even chided Moreh somewhat for not having been tougher on the politicians.
Three settlers had approached Moreh after the Jerusalem premiere and confessed that the film would have them reviewing the logic of their presence on the West Bank. And the head of the Israeli human rights org chided him for not being tough enough on the Shin Bet leaders but acknowledged that getting their historical input, even at this late stage of the game, was a major achievement.
Two films on the occupation have been nominated for Oscars, so one could say a Middle East Spring is taking place there this year. The other one, Five Broken Cameras, is also getting good reviews.
We might finally see a good public airing on the whole occupation history where the Israeli Lobby does not control what mass American audiences get presented, despite the choke hold they have on our American media and Congress. The Chuck Hagel hearings for Secretary of Defense put this grotesquely on display in the Senate, a terrible embarrassment to the country.
Unlike the Shin Bet chiefs who admitted having reservations over some of the things they had done, they accepted responsibility for their part. But they, like all others in war, hope it will end in peace. The bitter pill for the Gatekeepers was that all the suffering has been for nothing because peace was really never the goal for their political class. I have to say here that they should have had better intelligence.
Moreh describes how the Gatekeepers realized that the settlement program was illegal at its inception, and told the political class that they would endanger achieving a future peace… but to no avail. As loyal soldiers they followed their orders.
But maybe they should not have. Israel has really only had one coup, when Sharon and crowd were running a shadow government against Moshe Sharret, and undermined his peace efforts at the time, something Zionist militants are experienced at doing. Sharret’s diaries were a bombshell, and our thanks to his family for publishing them.
All the Gatekeepers had dark visions for the future of Israel. They understand now the purposeful avoidance of peace, partially due to the swing vote the religious parties have who hold themselves above Israeli law, by playing their God trump card when they choose. Moreh describes the lack of separation of church as state as a major impediment to peace.
The ultra-orthodox and the settlers are hated by most Israelis, yet the secular Jews live in denial of the moral and strategic failure of their own political leadership. As I combed through reams of material on this story the analogies here in America kept jumping out, like living in denial, a dark future of continued international conflicts which do not take us to a better place, but a worse one, etc.
Our own Christian Zionists, the Israel Lobby, all the ‘helpers’ they have bought off or blackmailed, they are not looking back with any regrets about no peace in the Mideast. They also have the denial game down pat, and are trained at blaming one side only, the Arabs. They are smart enough to know better, but corrupt enough to not want to. They are the worst of the worst, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Joe Lieberman… the list is long.
Frankly, the Israelis need a coup. They need one badly. We needed a coup when the Bush thugs were in charge.
But they actually pulled their own coup, 9-11 included, and took the country down disaster road, a dual road really as they had financial destruction in play as a backup plan, which worked. They even stole Lee Wanta’s $4.5-trillion wire that came in through China which was supposed to go to the American people for infrastructure rebuilding.
There was some coup preparation done in case they tried another mass terror attack. They tried, but we were lucky Gwenyth Todd stopped one in Bahrain. Hijacking the nukes from Minot Air Force Base as caught in the nick of time. Only parts of these stories have been told, although Press TV has a great documentary interview with Todd.
Obama found himself in the counter-coup business, pulling the teeth out of some NeoCon shadow operators and rogue elements in the military and other departments who had planned to not have him around for a second term. We hope our own Intel people will tell that story some day.
Revolutions are for overthrowing leaderships who have sold out their people. What makes the Israelis so dangerous is that mass suicide types are historically not too concerned about who they take with them. Our own Christian Zionists are an American version, wanting the world to end so they can gulp down the Kool-Aid and take a ride on the big space ship. I personally consider them a major national security threat to America and I am not shy about saying so, as you might have noticed.
If we do not rip the heart out of the political and financial corruption plaguing us, they are going to rip our hearts out. Remember I said this, this day. That is what they are doing. And they intend to continue… until they are stopped.