Saturday 20th of July 2024

the gatekeepers .....

the gatekeepers ....

What image of Palestinians would viewers, who have a smattering, or if any, knowledge of the Palestinian struggle, gain after seeing Dror Moreh’s documentary, The Gatekeepers?

The word ‘terrorist’ and versions thereof - ‘terrorism’ ‘terror’ - occur over 40 times, and all, bar once, in reference to Palestinians implicitly justifying the raison d’etre for Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency).

The MO of the vicious Shin Bet or Shabak is covert counter-terrorism - based on the premise that the people of Palestine have no right to defend themselves or fight for their rightful independence enshrined in international law against the brutal illegal occupier and coloniser- the rogue State of Israel.

Meanwhile, Israel, the world’s fourth largest high-tech nuclear military force bleats its right to defend itself against Palestinian rocks and piddly homemade rockets.

The Gatekeepers presents interviews with six former Shin Bet commanders with relevant archival footage. Luke Buckmaster states, “These are men who, after consuming their toast and coffee, went to work to oversee every form of state-sanctioned violence. Manhunts. Executions. Torture. Missions that led to the death of countless innocent people... It seems highly improbable - despite unusually candid-feeling interviews - that the former top brass from the Shin Bet didn’t come to the project without an agenda in mind.” (Crikey 21-8-13)

The documentary has been hailed for presenting the human face of Shin Bet.

Dror Moreh: What shocked me was how humane they were. You have a certain image of somebody like Shalom before you meet him; he has a reputation that precedes him. And suddenly, you find yourself seated in front of Shalom and you do not see this monster, or this heartless bureaucrat, or this mastermind of espionage. You see a human being, with the same doubts and tormented thoughts that you or I have. You see a person with a conscience.

You can bet that a documentary proselytising the humanity of Gestapo heads, Heinrich Himmler, Rudolph Diels and Heinrich Muller would ignite fires of Sheol to spurt from the tongues of the Zionist Lobby.

The documentary opens with footage of a sterile ‘super clean operation’ (like the Wikileaks release of the US gunship ‘collateral murder’ video in Iraq) of the targeted killing, by remote, of so-called Palestinian ‘terrorists’ [freedom fighters], accompanied by the self-congratulatory comments of Yuval Diskin, who adds that in reflective moments he thinks it is ‘ unnatural’ to have the power to take lives in an instant. Really? Such moral musings from a man who has spent 30 years in military, Shin Bet and Mossad intelligence including Israel’s 1982 bloody war on Lebanon. Apparently ‘in no time Shin Bet controlled Lebanon’.

The sensitively airbrushed Yuval waxes lyrical about his ‘exotic encounter with olive trees’ (millions of which, along with livelihoods have been destroyed by Israel) and about his interaction with the peasants as he wandered through landscapes, refugee camps (refused right of return), visiting homes, chatting in cafes (one wonders how many of his bucolic buddies Shin Bet kidnapped and tortured) and then awakes from his fond reverie to remind himself and us of the ‘Palestinian problem’.

Right on cue the next footage, presents a newsreel on the killing of two soldiers in Al Khalil (Hebron). Mystifyingly, there is no footage of any of the hundreds of Palestinian civilians murdered there, in their own city, such as young Mohammed Ziad Awad al-Salayma who, in December 2012, was shot moments after buying a cake for his 17th birthday.

The indigenous people of Al Khalil are held hostage by a handful of settler thugs protected by the Israeli military. The once vibrant commerce of Shuhada St has been shut down and netting covers the narrow passages of the Old City to curtail the urine, faeces and rubbish that vulgar settlers throw down on passing Palestinians.

Avraham Shalom, a feared and uncompromising bully, has an acting skill range from a frisky thrill for his job security “luckily for us terrorism increased’, to quasi-senility in remembering his ordering the execution of the two surviving handcuffed hijackers of Bus 300. Their heads were smashed with a rock. Shalom (ironic name) admits President Shamir had given him carte blanche on life-and-death decisions- literally - and that he coordinated his actions with Shamir, Rabin and Peres who rolled over and played ignorant under public pressure. Shalom later admits that Israel has become ‘cruel’ and is ‘similar to the Germans in WWII”. He should know.

Yakov Peri another of Moreh’s charming goons, comments on the First Intifada, “A nation rose up and tried to launch a revolution,” Why? Wait for it - “to kick us out”... Ah, there it is - the Israeli mantra of victimhood. Not one of these men of ‘conscience’ get that Palestinians are fighting for self-determination, for freedom from savage and systematic oppression, for their lives and shrinking country.

Peri goes on to laud Shin Bet’s ‘well-oiled’, ‘well-organized, effective’ and ‘systematic’ ‘intelligence factories’. He explains how Shin Bet learnt about their territorial units ‘village by village, trail by trail’, through field trips and masses of ‘interviews’ ie interrogations about the village, the clans, number of people and its institutions. This format resembles the well-oiled, well-organized, effective and systematic Plan Dalet that mapped, for the Jewish terrorist militias, the ethnic cleansing of 531Palestinian villages in 1947-48;

“These operations can be carried out in the following manner; either by destroying villages (by setting fire to them, by blowing them up or by planting mines in their rubble). In case of resistance, the armed forces must be wiped out and the population expelled outside the borders of the state.” Ilan Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine p.82

Shin Bet then set up a tight web of informers and agents and one wonders what terrible coercions would make a Palestinian betray his community, friends and family. The atmosphere of terror, the sinister recruitment practices and informant systems in Stalin’s Russia and Hitler’s Germany comes to mind.

The section Our Own Flesh and Blood deals with the rise of settler power. Peri drops a hasbara (Lie) clanger stating that “the illegal settlements were built despite of or in opposition to government decisions”. Shortly after the settler protests in 1975, Rabin allowed the establishment of Ma’ale Adumin and settlers have been given financial incentives and tax concession by successive Israeli governments.

Since 1967 over 541,000 settlers have colonised the West Bank and there are100 outposts, forerunners to new settlements. Israel threatens to annex the settlements on stolen Palestinian land and since the onset of the present peace farce in July, the Netanyahu government announced plans for 800 illegal housing units. Extremist settler parties have unprecedented power in the present Knesset.

The rise of settler power only disturbs Israel when its own may suffer as with the assassination of Rabin and the deranged plot to blow up the Dome on the Rock. Moreh never refers to these fanatics as terrorists even though, after the massacre at Al Khalil’s Ibrahimi Mosque by Baruch Goldstein, the settler groups, Kach and Kahane Chai were designated terrorist organisations.

Moreh makes much of death of Rabin and its impact on the peace process but Tanya Reinhart told it straight; “Deception and lies have been a cornerstone in Israeli policy, brought to a new level of perfection since Oslo. While the world believed that Prime Minister Rabin promised to eventually end the occupation and dismantle the settlements, the number of Israeli settlers actually doubled during his rule.”

If you are not convinced The Gatekeepers is a propaganda exercise, listen to Carmi Gillon’s testimony on Shin Bet’s justification for the use of torture in interrogations which became more difficult during the Second Intifada because “ Anyone willing to sacrifice his life whether its for the virgins in paradise or not has nothing to lose.” The belittlement of the sacrifice of suicide bombers for paradisal virgins confirms Israel’s denial of the Palestinian political impetus for freedom and denial of the desperation of Palestinian life under the might of Israel’s control.

In 2001, Human Rights Watch asked the Danish government to reject Gillon’s appointment as ambassador to Denmark and Amnesty International, citing the UN Convention against Torture demanded he be detained.

Years after the end of the Second Intifada, “the need to use moderate physical pressure in interrogations” continues to this day. Moderate? Impunity to inflict sleep deprivation, sitting handcuffed in a painful, degrading, exhausting position, covering heads, shaking, beatings, humiliation, threats against family, medical neglect, electrocution on adults and minors is secured by Israel’s High Court and the Office of the Prime Minister.

In February 2013, Charlotte Silver’s opinion piece in Al Jazeera, How Israel legitimises torturing Palestinians, to death, exposes how Arafat Jaradet was tortured to death during the 7 days between his arrest and death on February 23.

“The ordeal that Arafat suffered before he died at the hands of Israel's Shin Bet is common to many Palestinians that pass through Israel's prisons. According to the prisoners' rights organisation Addameer, since 1967, a total of 72 Palestinians have been killed as a result of torture and 53 due to medical neglect. Less than a month before Jaradat was killed, Ashraf Abu Dhra died while in Israeli custody in a case that Addameer argues was a direct result of medical neglect. And in the first week of February, two weeks before Arafat was killed, the High Court of Justice threw out Adalah's petition that demanded the GSS videotape and audio record all of its interrogations in order to comply with requirements of the United Nations Convention Against Torture (CAT) to which Israel is a signatory.”

The section, Collateral Damage vividly depicts Shin Bet’s new strategy; state-sanctioned targeted killings which are outlawed under international law. In 2007, Avi Dichter, was forced to cancel a visit to the UK because of a potential arrest warrant on suspicion of war crimes for the bombing of Hamas‘ Saleh Shehade’s home killing 15 family members including 3 children. Sharon called it ‘one of our greatest successes.’

Ami Aylon points out Israel also achieved greater security because cooperation was secured at monthly meetings between Shin Bet and the PLO security in spite of the dwindling Israeli desire to reach agreement on a Palestinian state. This is backed up by footage that features Fatah gangster, Mohammed Dahlan whose death squads took over Israel’s policing of Gaza and the West Bank. Concocting competition and conflict between Fatah and Hamas is a brilliant divide and rule strategy that deflects the Palestinian focus from self-determination.

In interviews, Moreh insists these Shin Bet sadists in sheep’s clothing agreed to be interviewed because of their concern for the diminishing window for a two-state solution that is propelling Israel toward a catastrophe. Ayalon is a vocal supporter the two state solution but without the right of return; a right of all peoples. A Jew anywhere in the world has the right to ‘return’ to Israel but Palestinians are denied their legal right to return to their own country and lands even though international law guarantees, "no territorial acquisition resulting from the threat or use of force shall be recognized as legal".

Moreh’s urgent pragmatic push for a two state solution must include the corrupt Abbas and Moreh, in an interview on Huffpost, condemns Netanyahu calling Abbas irrelevant and a terrorist. Of course Abbas, Erekat et al are the dream team because they’ve agreed to a Palestinian state on 18% of the remaining area within the 1967 borders, illegal land swaps that will contain the settlements in a vastly expanded Israel state, no right of return, and demilitarisation. That is to say the status quo. Israel couldn't get a better two-state deal.

Perhaps a future Palestinian leader of integrity and /or a one state outcome is the catastrophe Moreh is frantic to evade.

Moreh is honest in declaring, “I feel they came because they are really concerned about the future of the state of Israel.” (clearly there is no evidence they have any concern for Palestinians past, present or future) and Israel’s self-interest is definitely the prime agenda. Israel’s reputation is rancid internationally and it is desperately trying to sweeten it with honeytraps like The Gatekeepers that seemingly appear to criticise Israel, throw in a few moral and philosophical after-thoughts, then stamp the terrorist label onto suffering Palestinians.

Dr. Vacy Vlazna is Coordinator of Justice for Palestine Matters. She was Human Rights Advisor to the GAM team in the second round of the Acheh peace talks, Helsinki, February 2005 then withdrew on principle. Vacy was coordinator of the East Timor Justice Lobby as well as serving in East Timor with UNAMET and UNTAET from 1999-2001.

The Gatekeepers: Locking In Palestinians As Terrorists


the fear game ....

After delivering that ludicrous speech to the UN and displaying the childish cartoon of a bomb with a fuse to the world leaders in 2012, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once again made himself a laughing stock by parroting nonsensical, hallucinatory words about Iran’s nuclear program and its newly-elected President Hassan Rouhani in the 68th session of the UN General Assembly.

Bibi Netanyahu described Iranian President Hassan Rouhani a “wolf in the sheep clothing” and dedicated almost all his unfruitful and boring speech to the statements made by President Rouhani in his address to the UN General Assembly’s General Debate. One may think that the Israeli hawk had prepared nothing to say before coming to New York and was just monitoring the Iranian president’s lecture and concocting responses to it.

Netanyahu claimed that in the past three years, Iran has perpetrated or ordered terrorist attacks on five continents! Nobody was there to challenge this lunatic man and ask him to present evidence for his madcap allegations. The irony is that since the inauspicious birth of the Israeli regime in 1948, thousands of Palestinians have been unspeakably murdered by this killer state, and yet its prime minister claims that Iran is a supporter of terrorism. According to the ICT Middleastern Conflict Statistics Project, only in the Second Intifada which started on September 28, 2000 and lasted until February 8, 2005, more than 13,000 Palestinians were killed by the Israeli forces. Israel is getting away with these crimes against humanity, but who can imagine that Iran would have been treated in the same way if it had ever murdered not 13,000, but simply 13 civilians in one of its neighboring countries in the daylight?

Again, in what the Israelis call Operation Cast Lead, that is the 2008-2009 Gaza Massacre, Israel killed 1,417 citizens of the Gaza Strip which it had invaded for many years.

These barbaric killings have raised no eyebrows in the UN and other international organizations, giving more courage and audacity to Israel to practice lawlessness and enjoy immunity to the internationally recognized regulations and conventions and projecting its own criminal actions on the others. That is what has emboldened Netanyahu to the extent that he now accuses the most pacifist nation of the region, Iran, of spreading violence and terror.

According to Netanyahu, President Rouhani had called on nations to “join his wave against violence and extremism, but the only waves Iran had generated in the last 30 years were the waves of violence and terrorism it had unleashed in the region and across the world. I wish I could believe Rouhani, but I don’t because facts are stubborn things and the facts are that Iran’s savage record flatly contradicts its President’s soothing rhetoric.”

However, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif whose first appearance in the UN as Iran’s top diplomat – he had previously served as Iran’s permanent representative to the UN for several years – was a brilliant and dazzling performance described Netanyahu’s position in the world with the best words: “Netanyahu is the most isolated individual in the United Nations.”

Zarif who has met more than 30 foreign ministers from the five continents on the sidelines of the General Assembly smartly revealed the futility and uselessness of Netanyahu’s remarks and underlined the fact that Israel is now more isolated than ever as Iran is approaching the world powers, rebuilding its foreign relations and improving its international stature; something which causes hysteria and turmoil in Israel’s political establishment that is predicated on fear-mongering, warmongering and causing troubles to others.

It’s an irrefutable reality that Israel’s survival is hinged on an imaginary threat that can buy Tel Aviv sympathy and commiseration.

This is what Israel has helped Israel through more than six decades to assure its survival. Now that the conciliatory tone of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has convinced the world that Iran poses no threat to any nation and that it does not intend to produce nuclear weapons, Israel is feeling that it’s being left with no such an existential threat which can produce an artificial and fake security for it.

FM Zarif wisely pointed out that through the past 22 years, Israel has been constantly warning that Iran would be producing a nuclear weapon within six months, but that six-month deadline has never arrived and this clearly attests to the Israeli panic about a misperceived Iranian threat Israel has always bragged about.

An Israeli expert once revealed this hidden truth to Trita Parsi: “you have to recognize that we Israelis need an existential threat. It is part of the way we view the world. If we can find more than one, that would be preferable, but we will settle for one.”

The improvement of Iran’s relations with the world countries, and in particular with the United States is something which ruffles Israel’s feathers. Israel benefits from the continuation of hostility between Iran and the U.S., and now that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has taken up détente and reconciliation with the West and the United States, Israel finds itself a loser of this bargain.

Even Jonathan Marcus, the BBC’s diplomatic correspondent has acknowledged that Iran-U.S. rapprochement will challenge Israel and its regional hegemony. Alluding to the momentous phone conversation between Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his American counterpart Barack Obama which has caused a wave of euphoria and enthusiasm in the world, Marcus noted that the success of Iran’s charm offensive at the UN has caught Israel unawares and angered Bibi Netanyahu.

Netanyahu’s comments that Iran’s overtures to the West are not reliable and genuine seem to have few supporters, even among the American officials who think it’s more logical and reasonable to give diplomacy with Iran time to work.

According to Wendy R. Sherman, the U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs and chief nuclear negotiator in the previous talks with Iran, the Congress should give the administration more time to pursue the diplomatic track with the Islamic Republic before further decisions on sanctions are made. Sherman who is very close to the Israeli government, tried to appease her friends in Tel Aviv by telling the Congress that Israel’s security remains a “paramount concern” for the United States, but she couldn’t hide her willingness for testing diplomacy with Iran, something which Israel strongly disfavors.

More importantly, the Secretary of State John Kerry himself believes that depriving Washington and Tehran and the whole international community of the chance of finding a peaceful solution to Iran’s nuclear standoff is a “malpractice.” In a meeting with his Japanese counterpart in Tokyo, John Kerry said it would be a “diplomatic malpractice of the worst order” not to test Iran’s willingness to comply with international demands over its nuclear program.

Albeit these remarks by the American officials are made in the wake of aggressive pressures by Israel and the Zionist lobby in the United States that are pulling out all the stops to prevent an agreement between Iran and the world powers to bring the nuclear stalemate at the end, so it’s not surprising that an essence of conservatism and self-restraint can be found in their statements. The American and European media have greater freedoms in expressing their excitement at the Iran-U.S. rapprochement and the possibility of a nuclear deal between them which Iranian president has predicted can be achieved in 6 to 12 months.

In the recent days, American news agencies, newspapers, TV and radio stations have widely given coverage to President Rouhani’s speech to the UN and described it with such adjectives as “unprecedented”, “promising”, “peaceful” and “logical.” They talked of the Rouhani-Zarif axis and their “charm offensive” at the UN which was indubitably successful. On the contrary, they censured Netanyahu for his bizarre and peculiar speech which was devoid of any traces of reason and rationality.

It’s not strange that Netanyahu is indescribably angry and lonesome these days. Israel’s long-term interests lie in sabotaging international peace and order. Now that this peace and order is going to re-emerge from Tehran and Washington, it’s quite understandable that Netanyahu and his Likudnik friends are running mad.

Kourosh Ziabari

Journalist, writer and media correspondent

Netanyahu's Magnum Opus: A Suicidal Speech To The UN