The Yedioth Aharonoth interview was published on November 13, 2003, featuring all four ex-Shin Bet chiefs at the time — Avraham Shalom, Yaakov Perry, Carmi Gillon, and Ami Ayalon (Avi Dichter was serving as head of Shin Bet, and Yuval Diskin, the sixth ex-chief who appears in The Gatekeepers, served from 2005 to 2011). The Washington Post reported the interview the next day on its front page, under a headline reading “Ex-Security Chiefs Turn on Sharon.” The Post’s story began as follows:
Four former chiefs of Israel’s powerful domestic security service said in an interview published Friday that the government’s actions and policies during the three-year-old Palestinian uprising have gravely damaged the country and its people.
The four, who variously headed the Shin Bet security agency from 1980 to 2000 under governments that spanned the political spectrum, said that Israel must end its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip …
Carmi Gillon told the Post the group sat down together for “the first time ever” because of their “serious concern for the condition of the state of Israel.” In Britain, The Guardian published its own story, with a headline reading “Israel on road to ruin, warn former Shin Bet chiefs”:
“We are heading downhill towards near-catastrophe,” Mr. Perry said. “If we go on living by the sword, we will continue to wallow in the mud and destroy ourselves.” Mr. Shalom called the government’s policies “contrary to the desire for peace”. …
“[The government] is dealing solely with the question of how to prevent the next terrorist attack,” Mr. Gilon said. “It [ignores] the question of how we get out of the mess we find ourselves in today … It is clear to me that we are heading toward a crash.”
The former intelligence chiefs agreed on a need to take swift steps towards ending the occupation by dismantling some Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza.
In the AP story on the interview, former Israeli President Ezer Weizman accused the ex-Shin Bet leaders of undermining the government, calling them the “four musketeers.” The interview had a profound impact on Ariel Sharon: less than a month later, he announced his Gaza disengagement plan — the removal of every settler and soldier from Gaza, and the dismantlement of four settlements in the West Bank (to show it would be “Gaza first, not Gaza last”).
Almost a decade later, the four gatekeepers have the same concerns, expressed in virtually the same terms. The film fails to inform viewers that the concerns are not new; that they were considered and acted upon by the Israeli government a decade ago; and that the result was not peace but two rocket wars, involving thousands of rockets, from Judenrein Gaza. Call it the Avi Dichter false-equation insight: if Israel retains land, the result may be war; but it does not follow that transferring land will produce peace. In fact, it produced the opposite.
To its credit, Israel has offered the Palestinians a state not once, but three times, on substantially all of the West Bank and Gaza, with a capital in Jerusalem. Each time, the Palestinians walked away, and Palestinian democracy has been a failure. Moreh is a fan of the “everyone knows” peace plan — a Palestinian state along the 1967 lines, with the Palestinians forgoing the “right” of “return.” But the Palestinian public has repeatedly rejected such a plan in public opinion polls taken since 2004, including a poll taken two months ago. None of this appears in Moreh’s film.