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April 17, 1992 - Image 34

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-04-17

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

BACKGROUND

Torture

Continued from preceding page

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managed separately to fool
us in the same way," said
Yizhar Be'er, director of
B'tselem, and formerly a
correspondent in the ter-
ritories for the daily news-
paper Ha'aretz.
Another common critique
is that the Palestinian
prisoners are hardened,
fanatic terrorists who will
tell what they know only
under the most grievous
pressure. What they know is
the plans and the planners of
future terrorist attacks, so
harsh means are justified to
make them talk; after all,
lives are in the immediate
balance.
However, B'tselem found
that the overwhelming
majority of its interviewees
were suspected not of terror-
ism, but of far lesser crimes
such as handing out leaflets,
hanging PLO flags or throw-
ing stones, and that the
same sort of torture was in-
flicted regardless of the se-
verity of the suspected
crime.
Finally, B'tselem is
criticized for focusing solely
on Israeli abuses, and
disregarding the fact that
Palestinians in the ter-
ritories suffer far worse at
the hands of other Palestin-
ians. Over 500 of them have
been killed by their brethren
as "collaborators," a death
sentence which has been
passed even on nurses who
healed Palestinians in
Israeli-administered
hospital.
Be'er said B'tselem's next
report, due out in the latter
part of this year, will be on
collaborator killings.

B'tselem is not the only
Israeli organization to un-
cover torture by Israeli
security forces, especially
the Shin Bet. So have the
Public Committee Against
Torture, the Association for
Civil Rights in Israel, and
the daily newspapers Yediot
Aharonotand Hadashot.
In 1987, a famous inquiry
headed by former Supreme
Court President Moshe Lan-
dau found that Shin Bet
interrogators had been
regularly using "moderate
physical pressure" to extract
confessions from Palestinian
security prisoners. Mr. Lan-
dau, in fact, ruled that the
use of "moderate physical
pressure" was permissible
as a last resort when inter-
rogating intractable ter-
rorists, but that "the
pressure must never reach
the level of physical torture
or the maltreatment of the
suspect, or grievous harm to
his honor which deprives
him of his human dignity."
State Comptroller Miriam
Ben-Porat, who is known for
her uncompromising and
effective inquiries, is con-
ducting an "intensive in-
vestigation" of the Shin
Bet's activities, her
spokesperson said, and there
is some reason to hope that
things will change. Maybe
the strongest reason for hope
is that in Israel, unlike in
many other countries where
torture is unimaginably
worse, organizations like
B'tselem can do their work
freely, and tell their story to
people, whether people want
to hear it or not. ❑

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Jewish, Chinese
Cultures Meet

Beijing (JTA) — Two an-
cient cultures — Jewish and
Chinese — got to know each
other better last week while
recently forged Sino-Israeli
ties were strengthened.
"We will be friends for-
ever," Ji Xianlin, professor
of philosophy at Beijing
University, declared as the
first International Collo-
quium on Chinese and Jew-
ish Culture ended at the offi
cial Diaoyutai State Guest
House here in the Chinese
capital.
The three-day colloquium
was sponsored jointly by the
World Jewish Congress and
the China International
Culture Exchange Center. It
brought together 24 leading
Jewish and Chinese schol-
ars.

"It was first and foremost
a learning experience," said
Professor Zvi Dinstein, pres-
ident of Tel Aviv University,
who was one of the nine Jew-
ish participants.
"Although most of us are
professors, we came not to
teach but to learn," Pro-
fessor Dinstein said.
Other Jewish participants
included American novelist
Chaim Potok and a former
president of Israel, Yitzhak
Navon.
The discussions ranged
from the place of learning in
Jewish culture and
Judaism's encounter with
Christianity to Chinese
philosophy and religious
beliefs in ancient and con-
temporary China.
But culture was not the

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