In the 2012 documentary, The Gatekeepers, Avraham Shalom, the head of Israel’s Shin Bet from 1980-1986, reaches the conclusion that Israel’s occupation of Gaza, Samaria and Judea has changed the character of the Israeli people. He says: “We’ve become cruel, to ourselves as well, but mainly to the occupied population, using the excuse of war against terror.”
Shin Bet is the Israeli intelligence organization responsible for Israel’s defense against terrorism. It conducts anti-terrorism and intelligence operations in the West Bank and Gaza. In The Gatekeepers, filmmaker Dror Moreh interviews six men who headed the organization from 1980-2011. They all agree that an end to the occupation is the only way to bring about peace and Israeli national security. They also say that negotiations with Israel’s enemies are necessary.
Shalom argues that Israel ought to talk to any and every one for the sake of peace.
“I said everyone, so it includes even Ahmadinejad, whoever. I’m always for it. It’s a trait of a professional intelligence operative to talk to everyone. Things get clarified. I see you don’t eat glass. He sees I don’t drink petrol. That’s how it is.”
Peace can only come if Israel and the United States talk directly with Hamas and all the relevant parties in the conflict. Secretary of State John Kerry faces criticism in Israel for supposedly being too close to nations who talk to Hamas. They say his cease fire proposals favor Hamas’ position. I say Secretary Kerry has not gone far enough. The Israeli government has not gone far enough to make a just and lasting peace. Both ought to be in a room this very minute talking directly with Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. They should stay until a peace agreement is reached.
Avi Dichter, head of Shin Bet between 2000-2005, says:
“You can’t make peace using military means. Peace must be built on a system of trust, after, or without using military means. In the end you must build it on a system of trust. As someone who knows the Palestinians well, I claim that there should be no problem building a system of trust with them, a genuine one.”