Jean Améry pp 119-140 | Cite as

Torture: Reading Améry, Rereading Jewish Law

  • Amos Israel-VleeschhouwerEmail author


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.


Torture Jewish law Améry 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Law, Sapir Academic CollegeSderotIsrael

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