September 29, 2006

by Reb Yudel
Who supports torturing Israelis? Why doesn't the ADL speak out?

From this week's must-read Jewish Week article by Lawrence Cohler-Esses:
Oded Ellner, a Tel Aviv resident, recalled how his Argentinian jailers deprived him of sleep for weeks while holding him in an isolation cell as a suspected terrorist. He recounted how they repeatedly strip-searched him and exposed him to intense and continuous cold blasts of air conditioning while giving him little to wear.

With a shudder, he related how he was put out into the cold wintry air without shoes or a coat in the tiny yard at Buenos Aires Metropolitan Detention Center.

His companion, Sivan Kurzberg, recalled being forced to give blood to prison medical personnel against his will while fasting on Yom Kippur -- and passing out as a result. He remembered being denied toilet paper for hours after he needed it.

The son of a Holocaust survivor, Kurzberg recounted how he was interrogated for 12 hours straight chained to a chair by his feet and stomach, without access to an attorney or to food during that time.
Oddly enough, Abe Foxman has no position on this abuse of human rights by one of the most notorious regimes in the Western Hemisphere.

Maybe because it wasn't Hugo Chavez's Venezuela.

Nope, it was George Bush's America. (Did I say Argentinian? Sorry. Should have been American. Buenos Aires? I meant to say Brooklyn.)

And let's note here that the American Jewish Congress considers the Republican Party's "compromise bill" is one that "finds a reasonable balance."

Yep, the American Jewish Congress is so eager to shuck its "liberal" label that it supports a bill that its own legal council finds troubling for uprooting centuries of legal tradition and denying habeas corpus.

So for the record: American Jewish Congress: Soft on Republicans, soft on torture, but mighty tough when it comes to Israelis and other foreigners being beaten in secret American prisons.

(Me, I'd feel more embarassed to have 'Congress' in my name these days than anything else. Perhaps the AJCongress has developed Stockholm Syndrome from being identified with the House of Tom Delay.)

So, do the human rights that America upheld in battles against the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany endanger us in our battle against Islamic terrorists?


Or as Cohler-Esses notes:
Ironically, in Israel, where terrorism is an unremitting threat, a 1999 Supreme Court decision has outlawed "moderate physical pressure" on terrorist suspect detainees while their detention must be reviewed by a judge every six months in a proceeding with defense attorneys present for argument.

In these respects, said Israeli human rights advocate Sarit Michaeli, "Israel has stricter policies against torture" than those contemplated in the U.S. legislation.

"After the 1999 court decision, the frequency of abuse and mistreatment went down sharply, almost overnight," said Michaeli, a spokesperson for the Israeli human rights group B'teselem. Some mistreatment still takes place, she said, "but even through the height of the second intifada, we didn't see a return to the type of systemic torture we saw before. Security officials are now much more clever in their interrogation techniques."
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