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“Five Broken Cameras” was partly funded by an Israeli government-run cultural trust and involved an Israeli filmmaker, but its Palestinian director, Emad Burnat, has shunned suggestions that it augurs reconciliation between the sides.
While mostly well-received by Israeli audiences and film critics, “The Gatekeepers” broke little new ground politically. Four of the ex-Shin Bet chiefs had jointly aired similar public criticism against former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2003.
But interest has been piqued by the film’s slick archive footage and digital reenactments, its international accolades and the fact its interviewees span current ideological divides.
One of them, Avi Dichter, is Israel’s civil defence minister and a member of Likud and Netanyahu’s inner security cabinet. Another, Yaakov Peri, is a lawmaker in Yesh Atid, the centrist party that was runner-up to Likud in the Jan. 22 ballot.
“When you leave the service (Shin Bet), you become a bit of a leftist,” Peri says in the film.
A third interviewee, Ami Ayalon, who once ran for the leadership of the centre-left Labour party, tells director Dror Moreh that Israelis suffer a strategic shortsightedness that could imperil their survival as a democracy.
“We win every battle, but lose the war,” Ayalon says.
Moreh told Reuters this month that U.S. President Barack Obama should intervene in the conflict in his second term, comparing Palestinians and Israelis to kindergarten children.
“They need a grown-up to tell them, ‘Enough! Israel, Palestine, this is what you need to do, do it.’”
Dichter, who said this week he had not yet seen the film, said it was “skewed, improper and tendentious” to criticise a serving prime minister, telling Israel’s Channel Two television:
“The prime minister sets policy that is good for the State of Israel, not policy that is good for the Oscars.”