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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 13, 2004 / 22 Iyar, 5764

Tortured reasoning

By Jonathan Tobin


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Americans have wandered into the same moral dilemma faced by Israelis


http://www.jewishworldreview.com | Americans woke up last week to discover the underside of the war on terror, and they didn't like the sight of it.


The reaction to pictures of abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers has shocked and disgusted the country. The fallout from the scandal has been immediate, and may very well have an impact on the outcome of the conflict in Iraq, not to mention the general election in November.


But for all the finger-pointing, rationalization and political opportunism going on, there is a precedent here — a precedent of a democracy dealing with charges of torture in a counterinsurgency. And I'm not referring to events three or four decades ago in Southeast Asia.


That precedent, of course, is the State of Israel's ongoing battle with Palestinian terrorists. That brutal war with a ruthless enemy has involved the Israel Defense Force in an ugly, thankless conflict that has been accompanied by charges of abuse of Arab prisoners dating back to the aftermath of the 1967 Six-Day War.


The parallels between the activities of the IDF in the territories and American forces in Iraq are obvious. Both armies have operated in hostile environments, where literal danger lurks around every corner. Both Israeli and American soldiers have huge technological advantages over their foes. That edge is often neutralized by terrain. But even more often, their tactics are constrained by rules of engagement that forbid them from causing civilian casualties wherever they can be avoided.

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While Palestinian terror groups and various Iraqi insurgent factions seem to care nothing for the safety of their own people, their Israeli and American enemies have shown that they are willing to risk their own soldiers' lives to limit the suffering of those caught in the middle of the fighting.

NOT SO EASILY DISMISSED
Though civilian casualties have occurred as a result of Israeli operations in the West Bank and Gaza, and American action in Iraq, atrocity stories of heartless soldiers slaughtering Palestinians and Iraqis have been shown to be terrible exaggerations — and more often than not, brazen lies.


But as with the documented outrages that occurred at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, lurid tales of what happens to Palestinians captured by Israelis are not so easily dismissed. Over the years, accusations of abuse of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel have been legion. Amnesty International has been particularly pointed in its criticisms of Israel on this score, as has the Israeli group B'Tselem. Friends of Israel have tended to dismiss reports of Amnesty and B'Tselem as being inspired by the political bias of both groups. Amnesty has little sympathy for Israel in general, while B'Tselem boasts a leftist agenda of opposition to Israel's presence in the territories.


That's all true, but it's also true that a great many of their accusations about Israeli abuse of Palestinian prisoners are real. Israel's own Supreme Court admitted as much in 1999, when it outlawed the "legal" torture of Palestinians under interrogation.


The Israeli court went to some trouble to outline the inadmissability of torture, even though it was highly likely that some prisoners might have information about planned terrorist activities that would save lives. Despite the court's ban on torture, debate on the issue continued.


If anything, the reaction to the decision seemed to make clear that most Israelis were still in favor of "physical force" in interrogations. In March 2000, Prime Minister Ehud Barak said he supported torture because when "ticking bombs" were at stake, "it is necessary to immediately save life from a concrete danger of a serious attack, and no other reasonable course exists to achieve this result."


While the physical and psychological pressures exerted on those prisoners were not the sort of obscene sexual humiliation exhibited in the photos taken by American prison guards in Iraq, the substance is often the same. The goal is to break down the prisoner and extract needed information about enemy activities.


It is doubtful that many Israelis — or Americans, for that matter — would have any scruples about doing a lot more to prisoners than humiliate them if it meant that the information extracted would prevent a suicide bombing, whether it was an Israeli bus or an American skyscraper.


That's why, despite the well-documented reports of B'Tselem on the issue of the treatment of prisoners, the issue has very little traction with the Israeli public. It takes no great leap of imagination to say that Palestinian terror suspects are probably still subjected to physical and psychological pressures.

TICKING BOMBS
Critics of the American effort in Iraq can say, with justice, that the sort of goings-on shown in the photos from Abu Ghraib have nothing to do with security concerns debated by Israelis, and everything to do with the moronic sadism of the guards.


But the problem here is that even though most of us don't care what interrogators do to certified "bad guys" linked to ticking bombs, when a judicial or prison system allows torture in some cases, it's awfully difficult — if not impossible — to prevent it from happening in other instances where there is no conceivable justification.


That is a harsh fact Israelis have come to grips with in recent years, as they noted the increasingly brutal nature of Israeli border guard and police activity, even when it had nothing to do with the Palestinians or potential security threats.


You can't legalize torture or abrogate the rights of some prisoners without that sensibility leaching into the rest of the system. Israel's experience is the proof of that.


At the same time, we must also avoid lapsing into a self-righteous cocoon, in which we'll give up the fight against terrorists in the name of avoiding more Abu Ghraibs. As a country at war — and like it or not, America is at war with an enemy bent on our destruction — we can't expect our troops to always play by strict civil-libertarian rules. Nor can we cut and run in Iraq in order to avoid the possibility of other scandals without paying a price in the long run.


There is no calculus that can guide us with certitude toward the right mix of concern for human rights and the need for security; still, we should try to find it. The only certainty is that danger faces us every step of the way.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Jonathan S. Tobin is executive editor of the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent. Let him know what you think by clicking here.

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© 2004, Jonathan Tobin