Sunday, February 15, 2009

World champions of fig-leaf donning

Once upon a time Israel used torture to extract confessions from "ticking bomb" terrorists. Nay, it wasn't even torture, it was "moderate physical pressure." But then on September 6, 1999, Israel's High Court issued a landmark ruling which banned even that moderate pressure. Therefore, Israel is a torture-free land, as befits its position as the most moral country in the world and, just in case, a light unto the nations. We all know this.

Luai Ashkar, however, begs to differ. This Palestinian was arrested on April 22, 2005, on ticking bomb suspicions. He describes his experiences in the following video:

To make a long (and horrific) story short, however, Askar was subjected to the "banana position," in which his body was horizontally placed, face up, on a chair and bent like the letter U until his hands met his feet under the chair between the seat and the floor. Then an Israeli General Security Service man pressed his chest with his foot until Askar's backbone broke. The man was left paralyzed.

How could this happen in 2005, if "physical pressure" (in the literal sense of the word, in this case) had been banned in 1999?

The key to it is that the High Court did not ban torture at all. Paragraph 38 of the decision opened the door to continued use of it. In Regulating torture in a democracy: death indignity in Israel, Michael L. Gross explains that:

The Supreme Court was no longer impressed with the existential argument and acknowledged that while a democracy had to fight "with one hand tied behind its back," terrorism would not bring down the State of Israel. Further convinced that conditions for a "ticking bombs" were rarely met, the court concluded that "ticking bombs" could not underwrite a sweeping policy of torture. Absent definitive legislation, ruled the court, moderate physical pressure remained illegal. Nevertheless, the court did not ban torture absolutely, allowing recourse to the necessity defense and permitting investigators to use torture to meet immediate and otherwise unavoidable grievous threats to innocent life (para. 38).

(My emphasis.)

Needless to say, what has happened since is that whenever Israel wants to torture someone, it defines them as a "grievous threat to innocent life" and proceeds with the torture -- even if the prisoner's harmlessness is crystal-clear (on February 27, 2006, Laskar was convicted to 26 months in prison for crimes described as "not serious" by the prosecution). In a 2007 report, the Israeli human-rights organization B'Tselem found that half of all Palestinian prisoners are beaten, and two-thirds suffer physical injuries, with a staggering 96 percent being forced into painful positions.

Let's turn to another High Court decision. Israel has long used human shields in the "neighbor procedure": when the Israeli army wants to nab a terrorist, they take someone from the neighborhood and force them to enter the terrorist's house to call on him to surrender. When in 2002 a neighbor was killed in one of the procedures, the High Court issued a temporary injunction against the practice. The Army continued using it, only requiring that the Palestinian gave his consent to be used in the operation. Then in October 2005 the High Court banned the procedure altogether, citing, precisely, that a Palestinian wouldn't be able to make a free choice if asked by the IDF to serve as a human shield.

Despite which on February 27, 2007, during Operation Hot Winter in Nablus, the IDF used Jihan Tahdush as a human shield in a neighbor procedure, forcing her to march ahead of the soldiers in a house-to-house search. Here's the testimony of this lovely 11-year-old girl:

If you can bear with me until I explain why I'm bringing up all of this, allow me to turn to an apparently unrelated topic: an article by the New York Times' Thomas Friedman which explained the recent war on Gaza. Israel, he argued, may have been educating Hamas just like it educated Hizbullah in 2006:

Israel’s counterstrategy was to use its Air Force to pummel Hezbollah and, while not directly targeting the Lebanese civilians with whom Hezbollah was intertwined, to inflict substantial property damage and collateral casualties on Lebanon at large. It was not pretty, but it was logical. Israel basically said that when dealing with a nonstate actor, Hezbollah, nested among civilians, the only long-term source of deterrence was to exact enough pain on the civilians — the families and employers of the militants — to restrain Hezbollah in the future.

In essence, this paragraph says that while Israel's objective isn't to destroy the civilian infrastructure, only to crush the terrorists, by a felicitous coincidence enough infrastructure is obliterated in the process that civilians will be discouraged from continuing to support the terrorists.

This is clearly not the case; Israel destroys civilian infrastructure on purpose, not as collateral damage. An IDF report on the war on Gaza is already noting that the high number of houses razed is incompatible with any reasonable military objective. Also, Gaza's industrial sector (or what remained of it after the crippling Israeli blockade of 2007-2008) was completely destroyed by Israel in the last two days of the operation, when the military conflict had ended and no credible strategic value could be attached to those buildings (see here for an example).

So why would Israel's High Court issue a ban on torture that is not a ban, or a prohibition of the neighbor procedure that is ignored by the IDF? And why would a journalist state that the civilian pain that is necessary to discourage support of the terrorists is not a policy but collateral damage -- an unintended yet extraordinarily convenient consequence of the attacks?

The answer is that Zionists need to don a fig leaf whenever Israel does nasty things. Since that is an everyday occurrence, the result is that Zionists have become world champions of fig-leaf donning. There are several procedures to make it appear that there exist factors counterbalancing the bad behavior, notably:

  1. Landmark High Court rulings that contain caveats: The High Court outlaws bad things Israel was doing, but allowing them in situations that theoretically should be very exceptional. Then the exception becomes the rule and Israelis enjoy the best of two worlds: total freedom to apply torture and the ability to claim that they banned it.
  2. Landmark High Court rulings that are never implemented: The Court outlaws improper behavior but the decision is not enforced. Inquiries on army abuses in defiance of the rulings usually die at the internal investigation level, i.e. the soldiers acquit themselves of their own human rights violations.
  3. Claims that the damage caused is unintended (even if these claims are often accompanied by cynical statements that the deterrent aspect of Israel's wars is not the elimination of terrorists but, precisely, the pain involuntarily inflicted on civilians).

The most striking aspect of these rhetorical games is its masturbatory nature. Zionists have decreed that the public opinion can be won over using technicalities in court-of-law fashion. To them, what is important is not whether something happened or not, but whether it can be plausibly denied. That's why we see them on the blogs whining their frustration that the public at large doesn't buy into the brilliantly put together arguments that so much convince themselves, and ascribing it to the endless antisemitism of the world.

But the public is endowed with reasonableness and common sense, and tends to judge by the results and not by the good intentions the road to hell is proverbially paved with. They will, e.g., divide 1300 Palestinian casualties into 13 Israeli ones and conclude that 100-to-1 is not a reasonable proportion even if Israel did not intend to kill a single child. No antisemitism there, just the ability to grasp some uncomfortable realities no amount of fig leaves can be sanely expected to conceal.


Gert said...

Oh, well. Now it's just a matter of waiting for a Hasbara troll to show up here to justify it all. Or explicate they didn't mean it like that...

Shocking and revolting.

Anonymous said...

The Tom Friedman comment is also dishonest for another reason. Nearly every neutral body that has examined Israeli bombings during the Lebanon (2006) invasion has found that: (a) Hezbollah almost always fired its rockets from places away from population centers; in fact they never stored rockets in populated areas, (b) there is no evidence of Hezbollah using human shields, and that in fact, (c) Hezbollah fighters were typically uniformed in the garb of regular armies, with rank insignia and so on. See the documentation in

(the sources cited are HRW, and a US Army War College Study (based entirely on interviews with Israeli soldiers. I believe that the Amnesty International Study also came to similar conclusions.)

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the IDF bombing of Lebanon's oil refineries. That was a clear-cut case of destroying civilian infrastructure, and resulted in a terrible environmental catastrophe for the Mediterranean.

My current favorite is the Israeli govts' outrage against Hizballah saying they will shoot down Israeli fighter jets--which violate Lebanese airspace. Huh?

As for Friedman, he's a walking, talking embodiment of the American financial crisis; puffed up beyond all rational explanations, and bankrupt of any actual productive capacity, just a walking BS machine living off his reputation.

I4P Writers Group said...

Had to laugh at your title. I've been writing about their Hasbara over on my blog and i've had loads of spam hasbara comments i've had to delete. They have an allergy to the truth:) visit me at

all the best and try to stay hasbara free LOL

Anonymous said...

"They will, e.g., divide 1300 Palestinian casualties into 13 Israeli ones and conclude that 100-to-1 is not a reasonable proportion even if Israel did not intend to kill a single child."

Here you showcase your ignorance. The measure of a "proportionate" attack has nothing to do with the proportion of casualties between the two warring sides, but the proportion of the attack in relation to its military objective -- i.e. the amount of force needed to stop the rocket fire against Israeli cities. The causalty figures have absolutely nothing to do with the principle of "proportion" in international humanitarian law. Educate yourself.

Dawood said...


What are you twelve?

Grow up, be a man and show your name if your going to post such bile.


Medical Blog said...

Then an Israeli General Security Service man pressed his chest with his foot until Askar's backbone broke.