Friday, January 23, 2009



Obama has announced the closure of Gitmo and the immediate cessation of the 'trials' held in reliance on evidence obtained there. That simple step seems to have upset some people.

There is obviously no point in addressing the mindset that says, 'They must have done something because they are there.' That type of belief is not interested in facts. It believes because it believes. Miscarriages of justice just don't happen (it is a irony that, in their personal lives, such people are often whiners and whingers about injustices done to them. Not that readers here would know anyone like that, obviously).

There are really two issues about torture. Firstly, it's wrong. There are, apparently, Rabbonnim out there who are prepared to argue the opposite, citing the need to extract information. It is a chillul Hashem that such arguments can even be contemplated. Once we begin to deliberately inflict pain on other human beings there is no certainty that we can stop. Those who have been victims of torture ought to remember that - if we do not, how can we expect others to do so? That some information might be obtained at the expense of the integrity of the people who ordered up the pain, those who inflict it and those who stand by and say 'it doesn't matter', strikes me as an utter abnegation of the value Judaism puts on human life.

Secondly, the evidence obtained under torture is demonstrably unreliable. If that were not the case then intelligence communities in all countries would be citing the attacks prevented as a result of the information thus obtained. They are not. People being tortured say what they believe needs to be said to get the torture to stop. The truth or otherwise of that is irrelevant. Thus the thousands of people who admitted to witchcraft, many of whom were burned alive as people said 'it's unplesant but it is worth the life of this woman to prevent further lives being lost to the devil'. The society that produced that attitude was rotten to the core - as were the people in it, who could not distinguish right from wrong.

There is no proof that the people in Gitmo ever planned anything, did anything or believed anything. They were arrested on the suspicions of those who were looking for evidence of evil - as they looked for weapons of mass destruction. Whatever the detainees have said since then has been tortured out of them. People prepared to believe such words are engaged in an exercise of faith, not of proof. I have no problem with faith but Judaism does not endow it with the status required to punish anyone.

Accordingly, I assume that those who cannot recognise this evil are Jews when it suits. They may, I do not know, daven thrice daily, believe that we are different, give tzedakka and observe kashrut scrupulously. But, when they condemn men not yet proven guilty on the basis of what those men said when they believed they would drown, they have shrugged off what Judaism says about truth and justice, just as much as they would shrug it off if they asked for a Big Mac. Their observance and their stance is nothing but self-righteousness. They do what they find easy and refuse what they cannot do - claiming it to be unimportant. They deny what God says in favour of what they would like to hear.

If someone wishes to say that deliberate cruelty is ok by them, then it's a free world (until such people start to run it, obviously). But when people defend the results they are lying to us and themselves. When they do that in the name of Judaism, or as Jews, the hypocrisy is so monstrous that I believe the stench reaches up to Heaven. If anyone in that category should read this - doubtful I know - then I beg them to rethink.

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