New adminstration, same old barbarism.
March 11, 2001 12:44 AM   Subscribe

New adminstration, same old barbarism. Ariel Sharon's government is urging the Israeli parliament to legalise torture by security servies members on Arab detainees. How will denying the basic human rights of Arabs without even a trial help the peace process?
posted by will (21 comments total)
dang forgetting to spell check.
posted by will at 12:45 AM on March 11, 2001

Ariel Sharon's actions show that he isn't that interested in peace.
posted by Loudmax at 2:25 AM on March 11, 2001

That's why the voters elected him. They don't want the sort of "peace" that Barak was Clintonized into offering.
posted by aaron at 2:47 AM on March 11, 2001

Clintonized: meaning "to have received political pressure from the former Clinton Administration to behave in a Clinton sanctioned manner".

posted by lagado at 3:55 AM on March 11, 2001

What other sort of "peace" is there? If they wanted "violence," they got what they wanted.
posted by Loudmax at 3:57 AM on March 11, 2001

Clinton was widely criticized in the Israeli press and in the Arab press for his efforts to forge a peace accord--but mostly after he left office. If America is silly to try to play a role as a peace maker, who should? The U.N.? Russia? Or just let contending parties work things out for themselves.
posted by Postroad at 6:21 AM on March 11, 2001

As an American who believes our best efforts - and funds - should be saved for addressing the very real problems we have here at home, I've struggled with this issue too, Postroad. What obligation does the US have in this case? Surely, we can't just sit by and watch the wholesale elimination of the Palestinian Arabs, which at present course is Israel's only real option to end this without giving back what's been taken from the Arabs. But what do we do? Send the diplomats? Been there, done that, hasn't worked. Send the Marines? Hello, Kosovo?

Here's another idea (and yes, I'm serious): after the end of World War I and the fall of the Ottoman Turk empire, the British were entrusted with managing Palestine until such time as the region could be reasonably self-determining. After World War II, the British - obviously over the objections of the Arabs who lived there - chose to give Palestine to the Zionist Jews, who claimed it as their divinely granted homeland, despite 2,500 years of it belonging to somebody else. Perhaps the British should be held accountable for the mismanagement of the trust given them by the world's governments at the end of World War I?
posted by m.polo at 7:04 AM on March 11, 2001

m.polo: The British supported a two-state solution, as they did in Pakistan/India. Earlier, the Peele report also suggested this, giving the Arabs significantly more land than the U.N. decided upon when they affirmed partition, which was immediately rejected by the Arabs and accepted by the Jews. If the land belonged to "someone else" then why were Jews living there when the British Mandate was in charge for some 30 years?
For a sympathetic view--sympathetic to the Arabs--read Tom Segev, a revisionist Israeli historian (One Palestine, Complete), whose earlier book is so well liked by Arabs that it is advertised and recommended on Arab web sites.
The Israeli record has not been a morally great one On the other hand, this can also be said of the Arabs in the area who 4 times invaded with the idea of exterminating Israel.
The issue is so complex that right can be found on either side. Suffice it to say that, like the European takeover of this continent, states offically made and recognized are not about to go away because of this or that claim.
Bottom line: prior to 1948 there was no state, nation, in this area. There were lArabs living in the area and there were Jews (far fewer). So too, there were Ameican Indians living where my house now is.
posted by Postroad at 7:52 AM on March 11, 2001

It is good to review the history of the region, but let's not inadvertently obfuscate the indefensible brutality of this act: Israel seeks to legalize torture, which is unacceptable under any circumstances.

I'd mention that this also breaks a UN agreement that Israel signed, but you don't need a UN agreement to see that this action is shockingly wrong.
posted by Joe Hutch at 10:47 AM on March 11, 2001

Quick academic question:

Why, exactly, is torture "unacceptable under any circumstances"? Granted, torture is an ethically grey area, but Israel sits surrounded by a group of nation's whose's publicly stated goal is it's extermination.

It's easy to sit back in the peace and safety of America (or Britain, etc.) and condemn torture, but if it were MY family and home and life being threatened, I think that I'd take that terrorist who just tried to set off a nail bomb in an area filled with civilians and do whatever it took to make him talk. In that sense, extreme, repeated violent action against innocent life removes certain rights.

Please, let me be clear. I don't have passionate feelings about this debate either way, and I'm NOT trying to provoke a fight over who owns the land. My argument could potentially apply to the Arab's, as well. I'm simply trying to provoke thought and check assumptions.
posted by gd779 at 1:02 PM on March 11, 2001

Without agreeing with the Sharon proposal, it must be noted that the Palestinian government tortures liberally and unapologetically, and with absolutely none of the precautions and safeguards that the most wideranging interpretation of the Sharon proposal would allow.

The Palestinian Authority and its allied forces are engaged in real, albeit highly unconventional, war against Israel, and Sharon is the last person who would abandon any available defense against assaults on Israeli land or lives.
posted by MattD at 2:50 PM on March 11, 2001

Sorry, torture is indefensable under all circumstances. gd779, any act of barbarism can be justified if you try hard enough.

posted by lagado at 4:31 PM on March 11, 2001

Torture is still going on, don't let this proposal fool you. This will just make it easier in case someone dies during a torture session. It's very important for the Israelis to torture hundreds of Palestinians and make lives miserable for the other 2 million so that 200,000 settlers can live illegally on Palestinian land.
posted by chaz at 5:49 PM on March 11, 2001

Lest I be misaken, I do not condone torture anywhere. But this legislation is a proposal, not a yet an accepted act. I am prepared to wait to see how it is voted upon. Could be that Mr Sharon is trolling (we are not the only ones).
So though I do not condone or support torture in any place and I would most certainly oppose (in whatever way I could) the use of torture in Israel, I am willing to wait to see how the proposal plays out.
Oh, yesw: I might be viewed as a bit snippy on this but Israel does not have a death penalty (one exceptioN; holocaust related); I view death row and execution as torture...but then I am a wishy washy liberal in such matters.
posted by Postroad at 5:59 PM on March 11, 2001

Let me tell you, torturing Palestinians is a sure way to get their people to go along with Israeli proposals for settling things. Yeah...
posted by daveadams at 6:15 PM on March 11, 2001

I don't think that the Palestinians will ever settle much of anything. Israelis are well on their way to accepting that there will be a permanent antagonism. The settlements which are reasonably defensible will be annexed into Israeli sovereign territory, and the indefensible settlements abandoned (perhaps with West Bank territory adjacent to Israel proper annexed to compensate.)

High walls should be thrown up at the Israeli borders, and the non-annexed territories left to do as they wish. Arafat can crown himself Sultan if he wants.

There will be a 4 day sensation as the European governments make their little noises, but I can't really see Syria, Jordan or Egypt getting so upset over that they're willing to sacrifice their bridges, power plants, and tank batallions to the Israeli Air Force in order to make a fuss about this.

It will not be a peace of reconciliation, but it will be a peace. Sultan al-Arafat I can have his full seat at the UN, and can stop sending out 14 year olds to attack policemen with rocks, and start figuring out how to get clean water supplies with Israeli civil engineers to do his bidding.

posted by MattD at 8:03 PM on March 11, 2001

Israel sits surrounded by a group of nation's [sic] whose's [sic] publicly stated goal is it's extermination.

Sure, but realistically, the wholesale elimination of the Israeli people, or the end of the Israeli state, is a virtual impossibility. After all, when push comes to shove, they've got the US behind them.

The elimination of the Palestinians--their absolute extermination--is entirely possible, given Israel's military strength, and the war-mongering madman they've just elected Prime Minister.

Torturing Palestinians--even Palestinian terrorists--is not going to end the violence. It's only going to (possibly) raise Sharon's approval rating among his conservative constituents. And it will increase the divide between Israel and Palestine--and, thus, increase terrorist attacks in Israel.
posted by jpoulos at 8:38 PM on March 11, 2001

This Article from the Israeli paper Ha'artz (somewhat left-leaning as I understand it) is pretty interesting...

MattD: which Israeli civil engineers would that be? The ones that raped the Palestinian water table, or the ones that designed and prepared highly toxic factories placed by Israel in the West Bank because they are not allowed to operate inside the country?
posted by chaz at 9:00 PM on March 11, 2001

gd779, last year around this time i went to an amnesty international university meeting. one of the keynote speakers was a fraile and thin woman. she had been a victim of torture for many years, and even after 10 years of living in safety in canada, she still looked like she stepped out of the dungeon the day before.

when you see what torture does to the human body, what it does to the human spirit, it rattles the very core of your being.
posted by will at 11:19 PM on March 11, 2001

The settlements which are reasonably defensible will be annexed into Israeli sovereign territory, and the indefensible settlements abandoned

You mean there are settlements in the West bank that are defensible?
posted by lagado at 3:50 AM on March 12, 2001

What puzzles me is the sadistic impulse of people sitting on their asses while torturous cruelty and injustice take place a block away from where they sit without making any effort to improve on their own environment (millions of blacks are in jail, and other millions of people are hungry and homeless), and instead pontificate about the rights of murderers thousands of miles away who justify the killing of civilians and children with religious and political dogma.
posted by semmi at 10:02 AM on March 16, 2001

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