# 225 – The Gatekeepers by Stephen Pohlmann - Ourboox.com
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# 225 – The Gatekeepers

Helping others to understand Israel - and Israelis to understand others...
  • Joined Sep 2016
  • Published Books 409

February 2, 2013

So many subjects I could write about, including the act that 82 of the 120 new members of the Knesset (from 6 of the 12 parties) have basically agreed to form a coalition with Netanyahu as the PM, and all have been having meetings with President Peres. An announcement is expected Saturday night, and if agreed, then it could/should be a month or so before the new government is sworn in.


Other subjects:

  • Israel’s attack inside Syria, hitting either a convoy carrying weapons to Lebanon’s Hezbollah or a complex manufacturing chemical weapons (is there a difference?). Hands up who thinks Israel’s pre-emptive strike is correct. Now hands up who thinks Israel is again ‘over-reacting’. OK, hands down….



  • Gerald Scarfe’s cartoon in last week’s Sunday Times. Have you seen it? Very tasteless. He perhaps has the right to draw what he likes – and he certainly does. (Have you seen some of his other works? have a look at Margaret Thatcher eating the head of someone, blood and all. Scarfe loves using that red crayon..). But the S. Times editor is being absolutely pathetic.


It may not be Scarfe’s job to know that the day of publication happened to coincide with Int’l Holocaust Memorial Day, but it was certainly Martin Ivens’ job to know this. No excuse. Was it anti-Semitic? Of course it was – so much of anti-Semitism is buried deep in the unconscious, that it is not recognised. It’s become ‘the norm’. But that’s not the point. This was utterly tasteless, spiteful, incites hatred and supports the very anti-Israel movement that is so unfairly prominent these days. (That’s just my opinion).



  • While Israel’s elections centred on the country’s economic woes, take this one in: Ex-president Sarkozy of France was paid €150,000 and flown in by private jet to Geneva to give a 45-minute speech at a special pro-Israel dinner, organised by philanthropist Lily Safra and the local Jewish community. There were 450 guests. Sarkozy claimed to be suffering from a cold, an excuse for the unshaven look and the bad mood. And his speech lambasted Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians. Now wasn’t that money well spent.



  • Israel is about to play an important David Cup match against France, and Andy Ram is still injured. Now we just might lose.

  • Last Saturday was the Jewish holiday of Tu’Bishbat, marking the beginning of Spring. As usual, Israelis planted an estimated 1 million saplings. A reminder that a) almost all trees you see when you come to Israel were planted since modern Jewish immigration began, and b) the Negev is one of the only shrinking deserts in the World – due to irrigation and plantation.


  • The rains continue, and the Sea of Galilee is at one of its highest levels in recent years. Not a reason to be complacent; keep building those desalination plants.

  • Check out Shay Agassi, who’s Beautiful Place has a clear target of making Israel the World’s first country to run electric cars only! Might reduce the number of $500 million Saudi homes.


Back to Spooks:

Saw the film yesterday – ‘The Gatekeepers’. It is basically an interview with Israel’s 5 last heads of Shin Bet, the equivalent of the FBI and MI5 etc. It is a chilling watch, partly because of its general content, and partly because we Israelis are living that which many other countries hardly know exists.


Perhaps you, like I, have been a fan of the British TV series ‘Spooks’. Head of their MI5 is played by Peter Firth. This balding middle-aged man is hard to connect with the scared naked boy on a horse in Peter Schaffer’s ‘Equus’, starring alongside Richard Burton.


Such a man must be very special: usually a military man, highly educated, a man of action, a quick-thinker, a manager. He must have the guts to argue with every politician, but the discipline to take their orders. So he must be a diplomat and an actor, and someone with a high degree of self-control.


Highlights for me:

  • When one of them talks about one his regular and frequent meetings with his Palestinian counterparts – let’s not kid ourselves…such dialogue goes on all the time between (most) enemies – he is told that Israel does not understand the Palestinians’ definition of victory. (They danced after 9/11 – and again after the end of the latest conflict with Israel, after losing so many lives and suffering such damage). “The more we see you suffer, the greater the victory”.



  • We should have foreseen the assassination of Rabin. That changed our lives forever. A reminder that Rabin was our neighbour, living 3 buildings away. We were disgusted at the weekly protests outside his home against the Oslo talks and the ‘land for peace’ policy. Some demonstrators were depicting Rabin as Nazi. We neighbours just looked on; did nothing.


After the killing, we felt so guilty. I made the tiny gesture of spending the next few Fridays joining those outside the new PM (Peres)’s home (not only next door, but in fact the building where we used to live), supporting him and confronting the continued presence of ‘ugly right-wingers’.



  • During the Intifadas, we arrested, hassled, imprisoned thousands of Palestinians; made their lives miserable. There was no other choice; but that did not make it any easier.

  • When the Jewish extremist plot to blow up the Temple Mount was exposed (the site of the original Jewish Temple, where, for centuries, the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa mosque have stood), the culprits were jailed, some for life. Within months for some, and 2-3 short years for others, they were all freed. This was wrong.



  • It is difficult to sometimes know you are right, to know the politicians are wrong, and yet to have to do what you are told. Happily, some politicians were clever enough to realise that their Shin Bet chiefs were often men to be listened to.



  • It was not surprising to hear that, after retirement, it was not uncommon to ‘have more sympathy for the left’. War is a horror, especially when you are decent and educated human being, who’s job it is to accept the fact of war, to combat it, and still try to remain ‘decent and educated’.


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