An Israeli Oscar-nominated filmmaker on Friday rebuffed criticism of his controversial documentary about Israel’s internal security by a senior Likud official, and said he was representing Israel, not Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at the prestigious awards ceremony.
Dror Moreh, director of “The Gatekeepers,” spoke to Israel’s Channel 2 about his acclaimed film in which he interviews six former Shin Bet directors about the complexities of running Israel’s internal security agency, and the reception his film has had abroad.
Moreh dismissed claims that his criticism of Netanyahu on international television was a publicity stunt to “campaign for an Oscar.”
“I don’t live in a dictatorship, I don’t have to bow to the prime minister,” he said. “With my nomination [for the Oscar] I represent the state of Israel and not the prime minister.”
He told Channel 2 that in each of the 500 or so appearances he’s had on foreign television interviews, he’s had to explain how each of the former intelligence bosses arrived at the conclusion that Israel must end its occupation of the West Bank — an issue that has garnered severe criticism from senior Likud party members.
Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon, a former IDF chief of staff, accused Moreh of selectively editing the statements of the former Shin Bet chiefs in order to convey a “Palestinian narrative.”
“What was presented there was presented in a really one-sided manner, and therefore the film is slanted,” Ya’alon said on Army Radio this week. “[Moreh] took parts of long interviews and presented the clips that served his narrative.”
Moreh struck back at Ya’alon’s charge, noting that the film has been in theaters for months and not one of the men he interviewed stepped forward and said he was misrepresented.
“To the contrary, they all stand completely behind the message and what is said in the film,” he said. “Ya’alon needs to deal with this.”
Responding to a New York Times report from January in which Netanyahu’s spokesman said the prime minister hadn’t seen “The Gatekeepers” and wasn’t planning to make time to see the film either, Moreh said such pronouncements reflected poorly on Israel’s leadership.
“If the prime minister of Israel doesn’t want to see a film in which six former Shin Bet chiefs — people who he worked with during two terms in office — are talking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from their perspectives, [then] it says more about him than the movie,” Moreh told Channel 2.
The 2013 Academy Awards ceremony will take place on Sunday, February 24.