by Stephen Clement
““A state ruling over a hostile population of 1 million foreigners will necessarily become a Shin Bet state, with all that this implies for education, freedom of speech and thought, and democracy. The corruption found in every colonial regime will affix itself to the State of Israel. The administration will have to suppress an Arab uprising on the one hand, and acquire Quislings, or Arab traitors, on the other.”
These prophetic words were written in 1968 by Professor Yeshayahu Leibowitz, an Israeli intellectual and critic of the Occupation, after Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.
After hearing this quote, Yuval Diskin, former head of Shin Bet (2005 – 2011), Israel’s internal intelligence service, is asked: “What do you think about this prediction, given where Israel is today?” “I agree with every word he wrote,” says Diskin. “Every word he said is etched in stone.”
He adds, “I wouldn’t say it became a Shin Bet state, but no doubt, our current situation with the Palestinians … created a reality that is very similar to what Leibowitz wrote.” This comes from the man who is believed to have started and perfected the doctrine of targeted assassinations. Paradoxically, from 1993 to 1997, Diskin was deeply involved with setting up clandestine links with the leaders of the Palestinian security services, as well as with Jordanian and Egyptian intelligence.
“This comes from the man who is believed to have started the doctrine of targeted assassinations”
This is one of many extraordinary moments in the compelling Oscar nominated documentary, The Gatekeepers (2012) from filmmaker Dror Moreh, which looks at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the eyes of six former heads of Shin Bet.Moreh told The Economist, Leibowitz “was so extreme that Rabin (former Israeli Prime Minister) didn’t even want to shake his hand in the 1990s. So when the head of Shin Bet agrees with what Leibowitz wrote, it really is like an earthquake. Yuval raises his eyebrows in the interview because he can see the shock on my face!”
At the end, Ami Ayalon (1996 – 2000), says: “The tragedy of Israel’s public security debate is that we don’t realise that we face a frustrating situation, in which we win every battle, but we lose the war.” The film then cuts to black and the credits start rolling.
The Gatekeepers was released in 2012, a few months before Israelis went to the polls. Two weeks ahead of elections, Dror Moreh told The Times of Israel: “I saw from their (former heads of Shin Bet) eyes how our leaders really don’t want to solve this problem. They do not have the audacity, the temerity, the will, the courage that we need from a leader. Besides Rabin, I don’t feel that any leader really had it… I am not putting the blame only on the Israeli leaders. I think the Palestinian leaders suffer from the same horrible disease.””
Read the whole article here.