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US Jews leave ‘Gatekeepers’ asking why we give money to Israel — says Oren, outraged

on 47 Comments

The documentary “Gatekeepers” is now playing at two theaters in Westchester. Here and here. There are a lot of Jews in Westchester. And what do we care about Jews seeing the movie? Well, Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the U.S., does. He is quoted in Hebrew at Ynet:

“I’ve been hearing about Jews leaving the screening asking why we should keep assisting Israel”

This statement is not contained in the English translation of the piece. But that piece is itself stunning. Oren said that he intended originally to keep private his views of the film, which conveys the statements of six former Israeli security chiefs, except that there is now a massive struggle over the delegitimization of Israel in the United States. Some excerpts: 

Although he is an avid supporter of free speech, advancement of local film industry, Ambassador Michael Oren believes documentary in which Shin Bet officials slam Israel’s West Bank policy[is]  hurting country’s international image…

“In 2006, I taught at Harvard and at that time, an article by two professors, Walt and Mearsheimer, entitled the ‘Israel Lobby’ was published. In the past, things like this were considered incitement in the US, as if the lobby for Israel buys congressional seats. Nowadays, this is being talked about freely.”

The US ambassador added “we are at the pinnacle of this struggle and I am at its forefront. The other side is well aware of how to act and manipulate the media.

“And then I appear on a campus and a student gets up and says to me, ‘you are speaking of your desire for peace, but your former FBI head is comparing you to a Nazi state. What are your comments on that?'”

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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47 Responses

  1. Basilio on March 17, 2013, 11:22 am

    Michael Oren is an apologist for a country that’s not the country of his birth, and he has no shame in ignoring the horrible crimes committed by his adopted country. He doesnt’ like this freedom of speech. Well, the Nazis didn’t like freedom of speech nor did Mussolini.

    • Kathleen on March 18, 2013, 11:38 am

      NPR has had Micheal Oren on too many times to count. They regularly allow him to repeat the lie that Iranian leaders have said they “want to wipe Israel off the map.” More recently Stephen Colbert allowed Oren to repeat that lie on his program. Guess what absolutely no challenges out of NPR host no challenge out of Colbert.

  2. annie on March 17, 2013, 11:47 am

    In the past, things like this were considered incitement in the US

    the truth is incitement to israel. the truth comes back and will bite israel, no two ways about it.

    • Kathleen on March 18, 2013, 12:09 pm

      Israel has been delegitimizing Israel for decades. There is no going back to closing all media outlets with the internet and more American Jews new and growing willingness to admit Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians. There is no way to plug up all of the cracks in the wall of silence that has existed for decades no matter how hard Israel and the I lobby try.

      Although my bet is that we will never hear another fact filled program focused on the Israeli Palestinian out of Chris Hayes. More money, prime time spot will close his mouth. He did do a relatively ok job on covering the Iraq war on Sunday. He even mentioned the 2006 Lancet report about how many Iraqi people had died as a direct consequence of the invasion. He also dia an interesting segment on the sectarian divide after the invasion. But he also said what so many MSM talking heads will repeat in the opening of the segment on Iraq “now we know there were no WMD’s” which is feeding the myth that we all believed that there were which is total bullshit. Millions of us marched based on what we were hearing Former IAEA weapons inspector Scott Ritter and others were saying where ever they could have their voices heard…THERE WERE NO WMD’S IN IRAQ. Chris Hayes also did not mention the former head of the IAEA El Baradei coming out in early March 2003 saying that the Niger Documents were forgeries. And Chris did not come close to addressing that no one in the Bush administration or the creator of the Niger Documents have been held accountable for their deadly “pack of lies”

      Chris could have easily fit in the fact that this was also the 10th mark of the killing of Rachel Corrie. Did not even whisper. He could have simply played the Corrie’s message to President OBama. Anyone want to place a bet that Chris Hayes silence has been bought with this new position? I hope I am wrong about this but don’t think so

  3. American on March 17, 2013, 12:08 pm

    I hope Jews (and everyone who saw the film) are really saying that and Oren is not just doing preemptive whining on their possible reactions.
    And if he’s worried I think it’s wonderful. That means the zios will become even more ham fisted and noticeably outlandish in their attempts to censor and spin.

    Love this:
    “In the past, things like this were considered incitement in the US, as if the lobby for Israel buys congressional seats. Nowadays, this is being talked about freely.”

    Well it’s common knowledge I would guess among at least 20%+ of the public, more than that if you went strictly by comments on public net boards, that the Lobby buys politicians and controls anything related to Jews domestically and Israel and ME foreign policy.

    But if Oren is afraid of incitement”‘ against Israel (or Jews I assume is his implication, holocaust scare, etc.) there’s a simple solution …> Quit doing what you’re doing.
    Or not…..your choice, your risk.

    You would think the Zios would take a clue from the fact that Israel and the Lobby is becoming a growing topic even if still in the infant stage….but no, their f****** narcissism and hubris once again makes them think they can contain it with more censorship .

  4. VickiV on March 17, 2013, 12:20 pm

    Here’s the big problem Oren has with The Gatekeepers. There are six — count them, six — former Shin Bet heads all saying basically the same thing. Even the master of hasbara is hard-pressed to paint them all as self-hating Jews.

  5. Jeff Klein on March 17, 2013, 12:31 pm

    I recently watched the wonderful film “The Time that Remains” by Elia Suleiman for the second time and a certain scene struck me in particular.

    In Ramallah, during the Israeli attack and curfew in 2002, a young mother pushes a stroller with her child past a group of heavily armed Israeli soldiers. One of them yells at her: “Go home!” She replies, simply, “You go home!” and she continues on.

    The history of Zionism in 20 seconds. . .

    • Avi_G. on March 17, 2013, 5:28 pm

      In another one of his great movies, Divine Intervention, there is a scene set in Jerusalem.

      A tourist walks past an Israeli police van parked in an East Jerusalem neighborhood. In the back of the van sits a blindfolded man.

      The tourist walks to the driver’s side and asks the policeman for directions. The policeman is clearly an Israeli Jew.

      Upon hearing the tourist’s question, the policeman exists the van, walks to the rear of the van, opens the doors and pulls the prisoner out. The policeman then asks the tourist to ask her question again. She does and the Palestinian detainee rattles off three options for the tourist how to get where she needs to get. And he does all this while blindfolded.

      The tourist thanks the Palestinian prisoner. The policeman then puts him back in the van.

      On another occasion, in a different scene, a tourist walks by the same parked police van, and asks for directions. The policeman looks in the back of the van, clearly startled, he realizes that there is no prisoner to give the tourist directions. He starts the van and speeds away, practically fleeing the scene in embarrassment.

      Divine Intervention, by Elia Suleiman.

  6. Shegetz on March 17, 2013, 12:40 pm

    The other side is well aware of how to act and manipulate the media.

    The unintentional hilarity of this comment is about a 9.7 on the chutzpah scale.

    • piotr on March 17, 2013, 5:48 pm

      I do not see what is funny. It is like “who sold guns to the natives?!”

  7. MLE on March 17, 2013, 12:41 pm

    I went to see Gatekeepers with my mom. My mom is a liberal Zionist, born in Israel.
    She whispered to me twice- first during the scene where Rabin and Arafat shook hands on the White House lawn she asked “Why didn’t that work?” I didn’t say anything. Then Netanyahu was on the screen and she hissed “I hate that man so much”

    Anyway, she really liked the movie. My other Israeli born and raised relatives (also currently living in the us) liked it too.

    I don’t think they would like Five Broken Cameras though. I think it’s one thing to watch Israelis talk critically about their country but its another to show the Palestinians as sympathetic.

  8. Cliff on March 17, 2013, 12:51 pm

    Oren is a real snake.

    I never thought things could be so black and white and cartoony in real life until I watched supporters of Israel and Jewish colonialism defend their political agenda on television.

    • Ael on March 17, 2013, 3:18 pm

      Steve Colbert says that Michael Oren is adorable.
      I agree.

      • pabelmont on March 17, 2013, 5:03 pm

        I think Phil opined that Colbert’s “adorable” was meant ironically, as if to say, “I cannot say you are ‘a profound liar’, so I’ll say you are ‘adorable’ “.

        Well, here’s a question for us all to ponder: When, apart from this event, has any TV interviewer called any other person (be it politician, media person, film star, musician, professor, lawyer, etc.) — other than a small child — “adorable” to his (not, hmmm, her) face?

        And if someone did do it, what did it mean?

      • Rusty Pipes on March 18, 2013, 1:49 pm

        Michael Oren is as “adorable” as a spoiled child who has just been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Oren stated a counterfactual, which had already been contradicted by a couple of news clips Colbert had shown at the top of the hour. Colbert challenged him with “anyone with eyes in their head can see” and Oren doubled down on his bald-faced lie. At which point, Colbert told him he was “adorable” (just as Bill O’Reilly is all about love). Colbert also said that there are not things about Israel which he could not say and he would be free to not say them if there were. It was a good show.

      • Krauss on March 17, 2013, 5:55 pm

        Yes, Colbert says that. In a way that only Colbert can get away with. He’s a genius.

  9. justicewillprevail on March 17, 2013, 1:16 pm

    And in keeping with Israeli head-in-the-sand denialism comes news that a soldier’s organisation, Consensus, is advocating that 5 Broken Cameras’ directors Davidi and Burnat should be charged with slander and prosecuted for “incitement”.

    And the Culture minister apparently encourages film makers to practice ‘self-censorship’. What a fine example of democracy. Not. Hasbara and unending propaganda, with no basis in reality, is encouraged and relentlessly propogated, whilst truth and reportage should be censored.

    Israel and its lickspittle supporters are unable to handle the truth, they have no arguments that stand up to it. So censorship and lies are the preferred weapon.

    • annie on March 17, 2013, 2:48 pm

      jwp, someone just sent this out on our local listserves: people’s choice for 5 broken cameras

      • justicewillprevail on March 17, 2013, 5:38 pm

        Thanks, Annie. I just found out about another film which I believe came out last year, about settlers taking over houses in East Jerusalem, and the consequent fightback and protest. Even just seeing a clip of the settlers’ arrogance in the trailer is enough to make your blood boil:

        Let’s hope this is another film which will gain wide circulation.

      • justicewillprevail on March 17, 2013, 6:47 pm

        Update: you can see the whole film here:

        It is a short, about 25 min, and tells the story of one house in East Jerusalem which is taken over in the middle of the night by Israeli squatters, with the connivance of their prejudicial ‘laws’ which assist theft and eviction of the people who built the houses. It is told from the point of view of a young boy of the family, Mohammed, and an Israeli activist who tries to help. It is a microcosm of what is happening elsewhere, and emphasises the horrendous heartlessness, greed and obnoxious behaviour of fundamentalist fascists who are assisted by the Israeli state and its military apparatus.

      • annie on March 17, 2013, 11:23 pm

        thank you jwp, someone just sent me this film this afternoon. i’ve yet to view it yet… excited.

  10. Krauss on March 17, 2013, 1:40 pm

    This reminds me of a brilliant talk by Glenn Greenwald on the rule of law, which is really that and much more where he recounts how he became radicalized. Oren’s reply, which basically amounts to “I’m all for free speech but..” is a good example of what Greenwald discussed while he was speaking at Yale recently.

    I wonder if Oren, if he had the power, would censure the film or even stop it being made if he could. Judging by the tone of his rage, it’s seems pretty obvious that he would.

    People like him are dangerous.

    • seafoid on March 17, 2013, 5:56 pm

      Oren is such a sleazebag.

      Very interesting news from Israel that hopefully will make it onto his desk :

      The Haredim have been given the cold shoulder by Netanyahu in favour of the settlers and Lapid and they have all the data on how the settlers are financed….

      “Just like someone who was in the same boat with all his friends until he argued with them, left the group and started to rock the boat, the ultra-Orthodox party leaders are now speaking out and sullying the names of the settlers’ representatives in the outgoing Knesset. Well-known MKs from Shas and United Torah Judaism have been quoted in recent days promising to expose the improper conduct of the branches of government that represent the interests of the settler movement and channeled to it billions of shekels from the state budget. The responses to these initial revelations are minor, and deal with the twisted motivation behind the new information currently being volunteered by the Haredi parties. But these responses ignored the part played by the senior members of the civil service.

      Outgoing Finance Committee Chairman Moshe Gafni (UTJ ) told the ultra-Orthodox Yated Ne’eman newspaper that settlers receive double budgets and double entitlements. He announced that he would publicize the double funding of army-affiliated hesder yeshivas and the billions transferred to settlements. He made similar statements at a meeting of the UTJ faction in the Knesset on March 5. The Haredi weekly Mishpacha contained a description of the opaque financing channels through which large sums were transferred to the settlement enterprise. This juicy information, which until now was the stuff of rumors and guesses, is now starting to almost take on an official tone from members of the outgoing coalition that had been keeping the secret. Shas and United Torah Judaism MKs, frustrated by the pressures imposed on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to choose Habayit Hayehudi and Yesh Atid over them, are speaking out: They are shining a light on the money trail that winds from the treasury to the settlers.”

      • annie on March 17, 2013, 11:21 pm


      • seafoid on March 18, 2013, 5:28 am

        I hope it turns into the equivalent of 2 men coming to blows over the same woman.

        Or even better- the settlers as Paula Broadwell and Israel as Petraeus with the Haredim as that Florida socialite who blew the lid.

  11. DICKERSON3870 on March 17, 2013, 1:55 pm

    RE: “Although he [Oren] is an avid supporter of free speech . . .” ~ Ynet article

    MY SNARK: Of course! Those “shared values”! And I’m a monkey’s uncle! Not that there is anything wrong with that.

    SEE: “Why Zionist lobby bullying strengthens occupation”, By Larry Derfner, Haaretz, 3/14/13

    [EXCERPT] Brand­ing harsh crit­ics of Is­raeli pol­icy as anti-Semi­tes helps the oc­cu­pa­tion thrive, and what’s good for the oc­cu­pa­tion is good for Is­rael, cer­tainly for Ne­tanyahu’s Is­rael, and what’s good for Ne­tanyahu’s Is­rael is good for the Jew­ish es­tab­lish­ment of Britain, the United States and sev­eral other coun­tries.

    It’s a shame: These peo­ple are going to bat for Is­rael’s sub­ju­ga­tion of a peo­ple, for Is­rael’s wars of ag­gres­sion to de­fend that prac­tice, and they’re doing it in the name of all the hor­rors the Jews ever faced and at times still face. I don’t know any­thing more cyn­i­cal than that. I don’t know any greater dis­honor of Jew­ish his­tory than that.



  12. kma on March 17, 2013, 2:38 pm

    the ynet article is a must-read. Oren says they’re working on a PR stunt to place a cover photo in a “number of US newspapers” to proclaim that a famous photo of an infant killed in Gaza last November was killed by Hamas (“determined by the UN”) rather than Israel. Oren says that Israel is the victim of “the other side” which cleverly uses the media to make it look like Israel massacred defenseless Palestinians in cold blood while it was really that Israel was massacred by Hamas rockets and did nothing but offer “peace”. Oren whines, “what are we to do?” because the photo and the truth (that Israel killed the baby) hurt his hasbara efforts, so he has to completely reverse the story and turn an entire orgy of murder and terror by Israel upside down and cry about being the victim of the press – what else is he to do?

    if it isn’t bad enough PR simply to look at what Israel DOES to the Palestinians, placing cover photos in US papers in an attempt to reverse the image of the culprit through lying merely proves that Oren is way more evil than anyone knew.
    there is nothing legitimate about an Israel that will do that.

    • a blah chick on March 17, 2013, 9:46 pm

      Next time Oren opens his mouth someone should say “Kafr Qasem,” that’ll shut him up.

  13. Clif Brown on March 17, 2013, 2:45 pm

    He is in a fix, no doubt about it. But what IS the job of an ambassador if not to put the best spin on things for the home country regardless of the truth, smiling all the while?
    “Mr. Smoothie” is a perfect fit, is he not?

    Of all ambassadors to the U.S., the one from Israel shouldn’t complain – what others have such a mighty machine of propaganda working for them in the form of U.S. citizens who will see no fault with the country he/she represents and are more than willing to shout it out at every opportunity while shouting down those who disagree?

    I’m afraid he’s just going to have to work harder to keep what’s looking more and more like a rotten tomato smelling like a rose.

    • Stone on March 17, 2013, 4:42 pm

      This is very true. Ambassadors are indeed supposed to be very loyal. But Oren looks more and more like Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf though every day.

  14. Gene Starwind on March 17, 2013, 2:46 pm

    If we cut off all aid to Israel, they’d have to stop building more settlements. They wouldn’t have the money for it.

  15. bilal a on March 17, 2013, 4:29 pm

    When a Zionist is calling for your detention, torture, and extra judicial murder, he screams at you “Incitement !”.

  16. kalithea on March 17, 2013, 6:07 pm

    I’m shocked, I tell you! Shocked! If there were that many Jews shocked and horrified with what their kin are doing in Israel; there would be NO MORE OCCUPATION, no more oppression and human rights abuses committed against Palestinians by Zionists. But it’s obvious they just want to look the other way!

    This reminds me of the many Germans in the late 30s who stated: Don’t point to me: I saw nothing; I heard nothing, I knew nothing of what was going on!

    All are guilty with minor exceptions! All are complicit for allowing this abuse, CRIME to go on for more than 65 years and doing absolutely nothing about it!

    Oren is the propaganda minister for the criminal state trying to justify the crime with the help of Zionist media gatekeepers. Just the other day he was babbling to Blitzer that Zionists are more willing to achieve peace because they set no pre-conditions for “peace” talks, while Palestinians refuse to talk while settlement expansion continues.


    Zionists like to insult everyone’s intelligence. It’s their most detestable characteristic. What really bothers me is that there are so many fools in this world who don’t mind being played. Zionists can always count on the dumb and dumber especially the American public to keep their con going.

  17. a blah chick on March 17, 2013, 9:43 pm

    “The other side is well aware of how to act and manipulate the media.”

    That’s because they learned from the masters.

  18. radkelt on March 18, 2013, 1:34 am

    Dear Kalithea,
    Tax season is upon us. I must contribute to an administration I find evil and corrupt,
    or be incarcerated. I don’t have the conviction of Thoreau, or a tolerance for straitened circumstance. I am not in a position to criticize Germans who hoped to escape moral censure by doing nothing and vaguely hoping that good would prevail.
    I am not happy to be a coward, a crude cost/benefit analysis suggests complicity as
    a realistic choice.

    • kalithea on March 18, 2013, 1:15 pm

      So then basically you’re endorsing the benefit of “freedom is slavery”. You may not be happy to be a coward but you have to admit; you’re content.

      To those who have the courage: LONG LIVE THE RESISTANCE AND MAY IT PREVAIL – AGAIN!

  19. anonymouscomments on March 18, 2013, 3:03 am

    “The other side is well aware of how to act and manipulate the media.”

    that’s rich

  20. Abdul-Rahman on March 18, 2013, 3:08 am

    While of course still completely vile and reprehensible Michael Oren does have to be one of the Zionist regime hasbara officials who unintentionally provides the biggest laughs with his ludicrous statements and regular propaganda actions. It is pretty hard to top Oren’s pathetic censorship attempts against Bob Simon of CBS 60 Minutes, when Simon was covering Palestinian Christians

    Bob Simon: Mr. Ambassador, I’ve been doing this a long time. And I’ve received lots of reactions from just about everyone I’ve done stories about. But I’ve never gotten a reaction before from a story that hasn’t been broadcast yet.

    Michael Oren: Well, there’s a first time for everything, Bob.


  21. NickJOCW on March 18, 2013, 8:14 am

    Ambassador Michael Oren believes documentary in which Shin Bet officials slam Israel’s West Bank policy[is] hurting country’s international image…

    Alas, I haven’t access to the film; it will probably get to Gaza before my Andalusian village. However, I imagine Oren is absolutely right and it is contributing to Israel’s negative image although ‘hurting’ strikes me as a bleak participle crying out for some adjectival support like ‘further’.

  22. Kathleen on March 18, 2013, 12:22 pm

    Phil/Annie/Alex the segment on Sunday’s UP with Chris Hayes ” Human Cost of Iraq War.” They are discussing the compensation payments paid to some Iraqi people for family members who were killed by the U.S. My stomach is in knots. $2500.oo for an Iraqi life….$2500.00 for a car. “insult to injury” I am going to be sick. Absolutely shameful.

    We are a cold hearted country. $2500.00 for an Iraqi life. Sounds like Wal Mart came up with the price of a human life. Surprised they did not say something like $2499.oo. So sickening I can barely take it in.

    • on March 18, 2013, 3:15 pm

      $2,500 is the ongoing rate for the death of a ‘brown’ person. That’s what they pay the Pakistani and Afghan families whose loved ones are droned to pieces. After they make an international racket that is, otherwise, the ‘price’ is zero.

      • Kathleen on March 18, 2013, 5:05 pm

        My stomach is in knots thinking about how disgusting, racist, immoral this is. I mean how does one come up with a monetary figure. But 2500.00 for heavens sake. We invade their country on totally false pretenses, bomb the hell out of the place, occupy etc etc and then pay family members an insulting amount of money if their family members have been killed by Americans.

  23. on March 18, 2013, 3:13 pm

    …except that there is now a massive struggle over the delegitimization of Israel in the United States. Some excerpts…

    Doublespeak at its best. One cannot delegitimize that which is not legitimate to begin with. Moreover, questioning why Americans must blindly fork over to a foreign nation has contributes nothing to its wellbeing billions of dollars from its public coffers while its own population is unemployed, homeless, without health insurance or access to education and hungry IS NOT deligitimazing a foreign nation but, rather, looking after and protecting the welfare of its own and their citizens. Someone ought to straighten these clowns in public.

    • Kathleen on March 18, 2013, 5:07 pm

      Biden who was a huge disappointment at the Aipac conference (total suck up) went on and on about “delegitimization” of Israel.

  24. wiserman on March 18, 2013, 3:54 pm

    Regarding the illegitimacy of Israel, one needs only to look at historical records to find that Israel is indeed illegitimate:

    Even from a religious perspective, Israel is illegitimate:

  25. W.Jones on March 19, 2013, 12:25 am

    This afternoon I listened to Miko Peled when he came to give a talk. He made two interesting points:

    On the question that the State would be a “safe haven,” Peled pointed out that most Holocaust survivors did not go to Israel, that most Jews had never been to Israel, and (one more thing I forget).

    On the meaning of the Gatekeepers, Peled saw it as a film that supports the state’s system (although not necessarily the current leadership). I could see that as at least one part of the film when I watched it: the most graphic images were those of Israeli victims of attacks and the “battlefield” of the conflict seemed to be portrayed as fighting terrorism as opposed to the bantustan-ization of villages. Peled saw the movie as supporting the system because those interviewed were portrayed as dissidents while failing to say that their harsh actions were bad. He concluded that this supported the views of the state’s more liberal supporters, and felt that in fact the leading liberal politicians there were continuing the discriminatory system.

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