Jewish law espouses several attitudes toward torture, from total prohibition, through condoning, to proactive advocating for using torture under certain conditions. Reading Améry’s testimony and bearing it in mind, has significant heuristic value in rereading the Jewish legal sources related to torture. Combining readings of cultural narrative with legal and political analysis raises the possibility of a categorical and universal criminalization of torture in Jewish thought and Jewish law. I argue that biblical narrative recognizes components of the modern concept of torture and their aggregative impact. It criminalizes torture even when ostensible justifications can be invoked, demanding individual accountability, as well as institutional preventative actions. I share intriguing complexities that became apparent from rereading specific Jewish laws related to torture. The aggregation of the new insights makes a compelling case for a Jewish-based position that torture be controlled, limited, and even criminalized, while leaving intact the possibility of acquitting perpetrators from punishment.
KeywordsTorture Jewish law Améry
- Améry, J. (1980). At the Mind’s Limits: Contemplations by a Survivor on Auschwitz and Its Realities (S. Rosenfeld & S. P. Rosenfeld, Trans.). Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
- Ballas, I. (2019). Fracturing the “Exception”: The Legal Sanctioning of Violent Interrogation Methods in Israel Since 1987. Law and Social Inquiry. Forthcoming.Google Scholar
- Berreby, D. (2008). Us and Them: The Science of Identity. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- Biale, D. (1986). Power and Powerlessness in Jewish History. New York: Schoken Books.Google Scholar
- Bleich, D. J. (2006). Survey of Recent Halachic Literature: Torture and the Ticking Bomb. Tradition, 39, 89–121.Google Scholar
- Broyde, M. J. (2006a, July 7). Jewish Law and Torture. N.Y. Jewish Week. Retrieved from http://www.broydeblog.net/uploads/8/0/4/0/80408218/jewish_law_and_torture.pdf.
- Broyde, M. J. (2006b). Only the Good Die Young? Meorot, 6/1 (Shevat 5767), 19. Retrieved from http://www.edah.org/backend/JournalArticle/Conversation%20-%20Final.pdf.
- Broyde, M. J. (2007). Just Wars, Just Battles and Just Conduct in Jewish Law: Jewish Law Is Not a Suicide Pact! In L. Schiffman & J. B. Wolowelsky (Eds.), War and Peace in the Jewish Tradition (pp. 1–44). New York: Yeshiva University Press.Google Scholar
- Harrison B. W. (2005). Torture and Corporal Punishment as a Problem in Catholic Theology. Retrieved from http://www.rtforum.org/lt/lt119.html.
- HCJ. (1999). HCJ 5100/94, Public Committee Against Torture in Israel V. Government. Retrieved November 10, 2018, from http://elyon1.court.gov.il/files/94/000/051/09a/94051000.09a.htm, decided September 6, 1999. Translation: http://versa.cardozo.yu.edu/opinions/public-committee-against-torture-v-israel.
- Henkin, Y. H. (2000). Hearot al HaHalacha VeHaMetoda HaAkademit, Al A, Ravitski, Harut Al HaLuhot. On Jewish law and the Academic Method. Akdamot, 8, 179–182 (Hebrew).Google Scholar
- Israel-Vleeschhouwer, A. (1998). Fear from Terrorism: Social Identity as a Mediating Factor. MA thesis, Department of Psychology, Tel Aviv University (not published, on file with author).Google Scholar
- Israel-Vleeschhouwer, A. (2012). The Attitudes of Jewish Law Towards International Law: An Analysis of Jewish Legal Materials and Processes. PhD dissertation, Tel Aviv University (not published, on file with author).Google Scholar
- Israel-Vleeschhouwer, A. (2014). Endangering Soldiers and Protecting Innocents in Battle: An Analysis of Jewish Legal Attitudes and a Process Oriented View. Law and Business, 17, 605–662.Google Scholar
- Israel-Vleeschhouwer, A. (2016a). Introducing Jews’ Laws Through the Study of Genocide and Rape. Jewish Law Association Studies, 26, 70–108.Google Scholar
- Israel-Vleeschhouwer, A. (2016c). Psikat Halacha (Jewish Legal Decision Making) as a Cognitive Event. In A. Roznak (Ed.), Halakha as an Event (pp. 96–133). Jerusalem: Magnes Press, Van Leer Institute. (Hebrew).Google Scholar
- Kirschenbaum, A. (1991). Torture, Confession and the American Plea-Bargaining: A Jewish Legal Perspective. Cincinnati, OH: University Cincinnati Judaic Studies Program.Google Scholar
- Kirschenbaum, A. (2005). Harsha’a Atsmit BaMishpat HaIvri. Self-Incrimination in Jewish Law, Hebrew. Jerusalem: Magness Press.Google Scholar
- Kirschenbaum, A. (2013). Beit Din Makin VeOnshin: Ha’anisha HaPlilit BeAm Yisrael – Torata VeToldoteha. Jewish Penology, Hebrew. Jerusalem: Magness Press.Google Scholar
- Lichtenstein, A. (1998). Lo Yosif. Ki Tetse. Retrieved November 10, 2018, from https://www.etzion.org.il/he/%D7%9C%D7%90%D7%99%D7%95%D7%A1%D7%99%D7%A3 (Hebrew).
- Lincoln, B. (2010). Religion, Empire, and Torture: The Case of Achaemenian Persia, with a Postscript on Abu Ghraib. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- Nowak, M. (2017). Powerlessness as a Defining Characteristic of Torture: Comments on Basoglus Definition of Torture in US Law. In M. Başoğlu (Ed.), Torture and Its Definition In International Law: An Interdisciplinary Approach (pp. 433–444). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Rechnitz, I. (2016). Torturing Suspects in Jewish law. Makor Rishon, Shabbat section, 1.1.2006. Retrieved from https://musaf-shabbat.com/2016/01/01/%D7%A2%D7%99%D7%A0%D7%95%D7%99-%D7%97%D7%A9%D7%95%D7%93%D7%99%D7%9D-%D7%91%D7%9E%D7%A9%D7%A4%D7%98-,%D7%94%D7%A2%D7%91%D7%A8%D7%99-%D7%A2%D7%99%D7%93%D7%95-%D7%A8%D7%9B%D7%A0%D7%99%D7%A5/ [Inui Hashudim BePehsa, Tehumin 36, 371–380].
- Reza, S. (2007). Torture and Islamic Law. Chicago Journal of International Law, 8, 21–41. Retrieved from http://chicagounbound.uchicago.edu/cjil/vol8/iss1/4.Google Scholar
- Salcioglu, E. & Başoğlu, M. (2017). Domestic Violence and Torture: A Theoretical and Empirical Comparison. In M. Başoğlu (Ed.), Torture and Its Definition in International Law: An Interdisciplinary Approach (pp. 107–138). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Schmitt, C. (1998). Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty (G. Schwab, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Shochatman, E. (2008). Al HaKefia LeKayem Mitsvot, 311 Weekly Parasha: Yitro. Retrieved from http://www.daat.ac.il/mishpat-ivri/skirot/311-2.htm (Hebrew).
- UN, United Nations. (1984). Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. G.A. Res. 39/46, Annex, 39 U.N. GAOR Supp. No. 51, U.N. Doc. A/39/51.Google Scholar
- Unger, Y. (2004). Zchut Hashtika. The Right to Remain Silent. Techumin, 24, 22–36 (Hebrew).Google Scholar
- US Senate. (2014, December 9). Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program together with Foreword by Chairman Feinstein and Additional and Minority Views. S. Rpt. 113–288. Retrieved from https://www.intelligence.senate.gov/sites/default/files/documents/CRPT-113srpt288.pdf.
- Wahl, R. (2017). Just Violence: Torture and Human Rights in the Eyes of the Police. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
- Warhaftig, I. (2000). Hakirot HashaBak LeOr HaHalacha. Tehumin, 20, 145–150.Google Scholar
- Welch, M. (2018, August 27). What John McCain Taught Us About Torture. NY Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/27/opinion/john-mccain-torture-.html.
- Wygoda, M. (2000). Hakirot HashaBak Mekorot Hamashpat HaIvri, Opinion of Head of Jewish Law Department, Ministry of Justice. Retrieved from www.Justice.gov.il/MOJHeb/MishpatIvri/HavotDaat (Heb.).
- Zakheim, D. S. (2007). Confronting Evil: Terrorists, Torture, the Military and Halakhah, Meorot, 6/1. Retrieved from https://library.yctorah.org/files/2016/07/zakheim_-_final.pdf.