Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Disquiet of Israel's Spy Chiefs

Richard Cohen reviews the new documentary by Dror Moreh that consists mainly of interviews with six former chiefs of Shin Bet.
Some of these former spy chiefs view right-wing Jewish militancy as more perilous to Israel than the restive and seething Palestinians on the West Bank. It was a Jew, after all, who killed the revered Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 because that prime minister was determined to make peace. This was, they all concede, an event that changed history.

The film is a tough indictment of Israeli policy, particularly the continued occupation of the West Bank and the expansion of Jewish settlements there. All of the former officials are traditional Israeli secularists, and they show a commendable loathing for the religious militants that Israeli governments continuously pandered to. Above all, though, they are critical of government after government that lacks a strategy to somehow withdraw from the West Bank and instead relies on oppression. “You can’t make peace using military means,” says Ami Ayalon, head of the Shin Bet from 1996 to 2000 and a former navy commando.
Israel is on a troubled course.

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