CAMERA Letter Published in Anthropology News

November 2004

Torture in the Middle East

In her September 2004 commentary entitled “Impact of US occupation in the Middle East on Arab Americans,” Rosina Hassoun, trying to link Israel to the Abu Ghraib prisoner scandal, stated as fact that “the Israelis are acting as advisors to . . . the US army” in Iraq.

This accusation was not substantiated by Hassoun, nor is there credible evidence supporting her charge. The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office has flatly denied this allegation, as did Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, who told army radio that: “We are not involved in any way in Iraq. We are not involved in training or in interrogations, or in anything else. The whole claim is preposterous.”

Even the scattered media reports that conjecture an Israeli connection to Abu Ghraib stop well short of Hassoun’s accusation. Thus while it has been suggested that some interrogators worked for a company with “military and commercial contacts” with Israel, this doesn’t imply that Israel is advising the US army. Likewise, joint US-Israeli military training and briefings between the officers of both nations, which have been cited as a link between Israel and the US, do not signify that Israel advises the US army in Iraq. In fact the US armed forces frequently conducts joint trainings with many nations, including Egypt, France, Kuwait, and Japan.

In addition, Hassoun erred when stating, “the Israeli High Court sanctioned the use of ‘pressure’ against Arab detainees and prisoners.” Although Israel’s Landau Commission of Inquiry declared in 1987 that “moderate physical pressure” could be used in very specific cases, the Israeli High Court in 1999 explicitly forbade the use of physical pressure, overturning the conclusions of the Landau Commission.

Besides disregarding this High Court decision, Hassoun also distorted the Landau Commission’s obsolete ruling. She omitted the adjective “moderate” from the phrase “moderate physical pressure”; failed to mention that pressure was only permitted in cases where there was a considerable degree of anticipated danger; and interjected that the Court sanctioned this pressure “against Arab detainees” when in fact the Commission did not specify which detainees were subject to the ruling.

Gilead Ini
Committee for Accuracy in Middle
East Reportin in America

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