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Friday, November 18, 2005


"Light Unto Nations' Illumines Citizen McCain

When Hillary Clinton launches her 2008 presidential campaign (thanks Angry Arab) at the Apartheid Wall and Senator John McCain admonishes the US to look to Israel for lessons on how to fight terrorism without torture, we know that Israeli disinformation just keeps rolling along from 1948, when Israelis were extolled for "making the desert bloom," for their "purity of arms," and as a "light unto the nations." Even Bill Clinton, in Israel last week, who knows better, was spewing the discredited "generous offer," regarding Arafat's refusal of the Camp David accords, and professing his "love" for Israel in October at a West Coast AIPAC confab.

McCain consulted with Israeli government officials before coming up with the following inanity on the Today Show: “The people in this world that suffer more threats from terrorist attacks and get them every day are the Israelis. The Israeli Supreme Court outlawed torture, outlawed cruel and inhumane treatment. And I have talked to Israeli officials, and they say they do very fine without it."

Well, on the one hand the need for torture diminishes with the number of extrajudicial assasinations a nation's death squads carry out. However, in spite of its penchant for murdering Palestinians at close range, Israel continues to torture the ones it lets live. Not that McCain would know. His standard reply to letters from constituents regarding one of Israel's latest barbarities results in the pat "Palestinians need to stop teaching hatred in their textbooks," and the grand daddy of them all, "Israel has the right to defend itself." Well, for Senator McCain's edification, since I doubt sincerely that he's ever read a textbook, Palestinian or otherwise, that wouldn't further his political ambitions, let's look at a little sampling of the "light unto the nations" torture practices since its "anti-torture" law of 1999.

First the law itself. According to Palestine Monitor, "An Israeli High Court ruling on 6 September 1999 prohibited a number of torture techniques. However, these methods were not completely outlawed. Instead the Court’s ruling still allows the Knesset to enact laws that would give intelligence officers the authority to use such methods. The Court deemed the security difficulties faced by Israel to be grave enough to merit granting intelligence services the power to torture.

"This “ticking bomb” excuse now gives the Israeli security forces carte blanche to abuse any prisoners in their care, including children. Human rights groups maintain that the use of torture in Israeli prisons has increased and become more systematic since March 2002. Violations of the Convention Against Torture are now commonplace as the military grip on the Occupied Territories has been tightened."

In addition, "The Israeli army and police also receive the unconditional backing of the country’s legal system, perpetuating the culture of impunity in Israeli prisons. The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel [PCATI] has found that the Israeli Attorney General has approved every case of torture as a necessary security measure. The High Court has rejected every single one of 124 petitions submitted by PCATI, against prisoners being denied access to legal support."

About the children. Perhaps, this information escaped our perennial presidental candidate: "The issue of torture or other ill treatment of children in Gush Etzion police station was raised in a report by B’tselem, the Israeli human rights organization.

"The report reviewed the cases of ten children held in Gush Etzion between October 2000 and January 2001, and noted that interrogation methods commonly included severe beatings, dousing in cold water, putting the detainee’s head in a toilet bowl, threats and curses."

Seven thousand Palestinian political prisoners are currently in Israeli jails. According to Palestine Monitor, 650,000 Palestinians have spent time in Israeli custody since 1967, that would be every second Palestinian male.

Since the passage of the law that McCain touts so highly, according to Israeli human rights organization B’tselem, "more than 85% of Palestinian detainees are still being subjected to torture or ill-treatment during interrogations."

Methods of torture still being used include tying to a chair in painful positions, beating, slapping, kicking, threats, verbal abuse and humiliation; bending of the body in extremely painful positions, intentional tightening of the handcuffs, stepping on manacles, application of pressure to different parts of the body, forcing the detainee to squat in a painful position (known as “kambaz”), choking, pulling out of hair and other forms of violence and humiliation (spitting etc.); sleep deprivation, solitary confinement, exposure to extreme heat and cold, continuous exposure to artificial light, confinement in inhumane conditions.

Murad Awaisa, seventeen, was tortured to death in his own apartment subsequent to Israel's 1999 "torture" law.

Maybe Citizen McCain was too busy reading Palestinian textbooks and missed this. Or too busy spewing the latest disinformation from his Israeli handlers.

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