Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Prison, Interrogations, Torture: Israel and Palestine

There are various ways to figure out how a society does things, and what it does about things that go wrong. One way is to look at the legislation and compare it with the reality. You can measure the reality through systematic monitoring efforts, or you can look for the exceptions and assume they tell the greater truth. You can see if funds are invested in the monitoring or if the monitors are endangered by their very activities. You might benefit from following the long-term trajectories: does the society try to do better, or is it indifferent? Of course, the very essence of what are regarded as infractions are illuminative. Are powerful men who build palaces from public funds the norm, or do capable elected leaders get booted out for delinquencies in the funding of their campaigns?

The system used by many of Israel's critics has none of this sophistication. Faux-Lawrence, to give one rather insignificant example, never aims at context, he merely collects tidbits that fit his template. Sometimes he uses Haaretz, while disregarding what any reasonable reader knows, namely that Haaretz - like any media outlet - reports the exceptions, not the norm. It's the "man bites dog" principle: a dog biting a man doesn't get into the paper, but a man biting a dog does (or, if you want to take that one further: when a bulldog mauls a child it does get into the paper, but the entire lives of thousands of bulldogs that never bite anyone will never be reported). Our own in-house skeptic, here on this blog, faux-Ibrahim, uses the same methods, which is perhaps forgivable given that he knows nothing about Israel beyond what he can find in English (or Spanish) on the web.

Israel has armies of critics, many of them homegrown, whose entire professional careers are dedicated to finding the exceptions and damning us for them. The finding is actually a reasonable occupation, one we should welcome, since by telling us where we're going wrong we know what needs to be corrected. The damning, mostly done in English for the benefit of foreigners, is a bit more problematic, but we live with it. Given the extent of the effort to show us how wrong we are, the findings, while regrettable in themselves, are not fundamentally awful.

Anyway, here is a link to an official government document, researched and written by employees of the state, submitted to the relevant officials and then put on the web so that anyone can see, right next to the reports from previous years so that readers can compare. The document is a report on how our prisons are run, and it's uncomfortable reading. Even if your position is that prisoners aren't supposed to have a good life - a reasonable position - the gap between what should be and what is, is greater than we should be allowing, no matter what the objective reasons for it might be.

Now, compare this to two reports about our neighbors the Palestinians. With them, it transpires, torture is the routine, not an exception. Pretty much as you'd expect from a society that regards the murder of innocents as a legitimate way of war. And it's not being monitored by the PA, either, and certainly not by the Hamas officials in Gaza.


Anonymous said...


No question, Nixon won two presidential elections. And, then remained clueless on how to use the powers of the presidency to his advantage.

Sure. He thought he was free do do anything he wanted. But he had to be paranoid to draw up "enemies lists." That. And, VENGEFUL! Look where it got him?

Of course, he used to have an expression: "SEND IT UP THE FLAGPOLE, BOYS. AND, SEE IF ANYONE SALUTES IT."

In other words, Nixon's bright ideas were given a chance to see if they'd float or sink, in the press.

Then, he was forced to resign.

If you think you can pin the "torture" pin onto the arabs, or the so-called palestinians ... ONLY BECAUSE ENGLAND PASSED OUT BIRTH CERTIFICATES FOLLOWING THE END OF OTTOMAN RULE. Following WW1. When ENgland "got the prize" ... and stuck the label "palestine" on Israel ... (While sticking the name Irak, also, where it did.)

You're dealing with these "lines" that were created ... And, Israel can't seem to shake off.

Sometimes, you wonder why Israelis are their own worst enemies.

Sure. People make up their own minds about arabs. And, all the pictures you get of arabs showing bloody hands. And, their "car swarms" ... happen because all of that suff is open to the press. They've got nothing to hide. It's how they fight.

And, left to their own devices, they'd lose.

Where they are now winning, Israel is handing them these victories. How so? Well, there's a religious element within Israel that is so out-of-control.

Not enough you've got Marxism that was swept in by Ben Gurion. You've got a whole load of stuff that goes about busiess DEFYING GOVERNMENT. And, then using their voting clout with ministers, so no one can touch this cancer.

Israel's problems are now not only self-inflicted, they're not being touched. Unlike the arabs, who can look to the world press to take up their cause. People are shocked but quiet. When what Israel does to harm itself goes noticed by all. And, no one from within has the meagerest talents to take up pen and paper. You've got no Drudge. You've got nothing.

And, everything is poised to get worse.

You know, America was correctly blamed for Abu-Graib. For the "underwear trick" on the heads of naked prisoners. Why? Because the money that pours into the military should have provided better personnel on the ground.

Oh, and Bush is tongue-tied. He never made the sale, either. So, if he's in search of his legacy, it's in the toilet.

He wants "one palestinian state?" How so? Gaza was part of Eygpt, not so long ago. And, the West Bank comes from Jordan. Who doesn't want it back!

It's not as if the arabs don't know.

But from their "sales" point of view; Israel can be left holding the bag.

While the craziest idiots in the country think they've got biblical papers proving ownership. Right up there with Creationism.

Not a spotless record.

America, by the way, suffers for not having a good plan, in place, to run Iraq. So, with Bush, and his saudi friends, everything ran amok. But is now under better control. Sort'a. (Afgahnistani's just want to sell opium. They wanted American technology, building them better roads. As they slip backwards in time. Leaving America with an expensive problem on its hands.)


No change at all in how all the actors "act."

But changes, ahead, anyway. Due to elections. And, economies tumbling down. For what reason did this all have to happen?

Bush will be blamed for taking his own religious messages seriously. Just give this time.

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

Faux-Lawrence, to give one rather insignificant example, never aims at context, he merely collects tidbits that fit his template.

In Argentina we've got a saying that goes, el muerto se asusta del ahorcado -- the dead man is shocked at the sight of the hanged man.

Of course, Lawrence of Cyberia collects tidbits -- just like you, or CAMERA, or MEMRI, do. Would we ever learn from your blog that the murderers of two off-duty Israeli solciers were sentenced by the Palestinian Authority to 15 years in prison? Does your blog ever care to make the connection that a Palestinian teenager who sees that a wall in his house suddenly crumbles and Israeli soldiers begin to pour in from the adjacent house may some day kill Israeli soldiers because of this incident, and not because of a thirst for Jewish blood?

Don't you cherry-pick your lovely son Achikam's experiences under his law-abiding commander as illustrative of IDF behavior, while overlooking the Breaking the Silence reports that an IDF commander ordered his soldiers to kill 15 Palestinian policemen in cold blood to avenge the death of six soldiers?

Don't you take an obscene pleasure in describing the reports about the Saudi girls who were not allowed to flee a blaze because they weren't properly dressed, while ignoring the reports about the girl who had acid thrown on his face by a religious Jew because she was immodeswtly dressed, or about the woman who was beaten to a pulp on a State-subsidized Israeli bus because she refused to sit in the back of the vehicle?

Your whole blog is a factory of bias. But you're shocked at the sight of the hanged man.

Yaacov said...

Heh. Gotcha this time, Ibrahim. Which button did I push that caused that outburst, I wonder?

The difference between you faux-lawrence and many of the others of your ilk, faux-Ibrahim,and I, is that when it comes to Israel, I know what I'm talking about, and you don't have a clue. You don't know the language, you've most likely never been here and if you were it was for a week or two, at most you may have some snatches of information from your Jewish grandfather, if you had one such; and the best you can aspire to is like understand the goings-on of a city by looking thru the key-hole of one of the gates. The surprising thing is not that you don't have any idea what you're talking about: how could you? The surprising thing is that you're not embarrassed to parade your ignorance before all the rest of us.

Oh. I forget. You actually are embarrassed. That's why you hide behind a false identity.

Has it never occurred to you that each time you post your opinions to this blog, we observe you and learn about the strange tracks your mind runs in?

Finally, I suggest you refrain from mentioning my son. Unlike your son, mine has a father who stands by his positions in the full light of day and the searchlight of Google. All your son can say in that respect is that his father is a coward.


Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

My son spends half of the day playing soccer and the other half watching soccer (like most Argentinian boys), so that his main complaint about me is not that I'm a coward; it's that I'm a terrible soccer player.

Interestingly, you suggest that I may have a Jewish grandfather. But if I claimed to have one, you would say that I bring him up only to deflect charges of antisemitism.