Victory at the Movies: The Gatekeepers and The Monuments Men

By Major Matt Cavanaugh

Two films I’ve recently watched really got me thinking about the nature of victory in conflict: The Gatekeepers, an Israeli documentary which contains interviews with six former heads of the Shin Bet (Israeli intelligence arm); and The Monuments Men, the George Clooney movie about saving art from the Nazis at the end of World War II. Though the movies varied greatly in quality (the former was stunningly good, the latter left a lot to be desired), both had something to teach about organized, armed conflict.

For just one example from The Gatekeepers – consider two comments from former Shin Bet head Ami Ayalon.  First, at about 1:10 into the film, he described a 2002 trip to London in which he met with Palestinian security leaders on the Intifada.  Ayalon said he was pouring a cup of coffee when Iyad Saraj (who he describes as a “Doctor of Psychiatry”) comes alongside him and the following conversation ensues:

Saraj: “Ami, we have finally defeated you.”

Ayalon: “Are you mad? What do you mean, defeated us? Hundreds of you are getting killed. At this rate thousands of you will get killed. You’re about to lose whatever tiny bit of a state you have and you’ll lose your dream of statehood. What kind of victory is that?”

Saraj: “Ami, I don’t understand you. You still don’t understand us. For us, victory is seeing you suffer. That’s all we want. The more we suffer, the more you’ll suffer. Finally, after 50 years, we’v reached a balance of power, your F-16 versus our suicide bomber.”

Read More
Loading

Disclaimer

The articles and other content which appear on the Modern War Institute website are unofficial expressions of opinion. The views expressed are those of the authors, and do not reflect the official position of the United States Military Academy, Department of the Army, or Department of Defense.

The Modern War Institute does not screen articles to fit a particular editorial agenda, nor endorse or advocate material that is published. Rather, the Modern War Institute provides a forum for professionals to share opinions and cultivate ideas. Comments will be moderated before posting to ensure logical, professional, and courteous application to article content.

Upcoming Events

Announcements