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Movie Review

Inside the minds of Israel’s gatekeepers

What does it say about a country when its sanest citizens appear to be the secret police? In Dror Moreh’s stunning documentary “The Gatekeepers,” a half-dozen grizzled old men talk openly about their experiences running Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service and primary anti-terrorism unit. (Very roughly, the organization is to Mossad what our FBI is to the CIA.) They’re a varied bunch, some cagey, others bureaucratic, more than one strikingly forthright.

And while they confess — sometimes grudgingly — to misdeeds and miscalculations, to blood on their hands both guilty and innocent, they mourn Israel’s gradual turn away from a two-state solution and toward brute force and oppression. These are aging warriors of realpolitik who’ve grown weary of carrying secrets. Says one, upending the old cliché about age turning liberals into conservatives, “When you retire [from Shin Bet], you become a bit of a leftist.”

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