29 February 2016

Paul Jay, Real News Network's Devastating Critique of Gilad Atzmon's anti-Semitism

blowing his own trumpet - Gilad Atzmon
I haven't posted anything about Gilad Atzmon, the anti-Semitic Israeli Jazzman who pops up from time to time around the fringes of the Palestine solidarity movement.

Ever since his friend, Frances Clark-Lowes, was expelled from Palestine Solidarity Campaign for holocaust denial I have posted very little on him.

PSC AGM – A Crushing Defeat For Gilad Atzmon and the Anti-Semites Holocaust denier Frances Clarke-Lowes Expelled by Massive Majority 

Granting No Quarter: A Call for the Disavowal of the Racism and Antisemitism of Gilad Atzmon

The following analysis by Paul Jay, from the Real News Network, is an excellent analysis of why Gilad Atzmon is deeply anti-Semitic.

Tony Greenstein

Dear Gilad,

Gilad, you asked for a chance to respond to Max Blumenthal’s accusation that your views are anti-Semitic. I promised to read some of your work and then reply. I've now read enough to give an answer.

First let me make a few things clear about my point of view.

I think any state based on religion or ethnicity is racist and inherently anti-democratic. Israel fits that bill, as do others.

I think the occupation of the West bank and siege of Gaza is illegal. In the brutal wars against the Palestinian people, Israel has committed countless war crimes.

If this was 1948, I would be opposed to the establishment of the State of Israel. A democratic, secular, inclusive state where everyone who was living on the territory of Palestine could become a citizen is what should have been created.

That is what should happen now. If Palestinians vote for a two-state solution that is their right, but it’s also their right to demand one-person one vote and thus transform the current Israeli state into a truly democratic one.

Now, let’s turn to your thesis.

I do not think that Zionism grows out of “Jewish ideology”. In fact, I reject the concept that there is something one can call a generic Jew or a Jewish ideology.

In your book The Wandering Who, you define Jewish ideology as someone who politically identifies as a Jew, “Jewishness is an ethno-centric ideology driven by exclusiveness, exceptionalism, racial supremacy and a deep inherent inclination toward segregation”.

In Israel, where national character and Jewish identity merge given the ethnic/religious basis of the state, this argument may have some merit, but it has nothing to do with the national and class ideology of thousands of Jews around the world who have little to no affinity with Israel and do not begin their political equation with “what’s good for the Jews”.

I’m not suggesting there are no such Jews, probably a majority at least when it comes to support for Israel. As odious as this is, this type of chauvinism is nothing unique, whether it’s Aryan, Han, Japanese, Russian, Saudi or American. Many nationalist cultures consider themselves to be “chosen” and “exceptional”.

Polling shows younger generations of American Jews are increasingly more distanced from feelings of affinity with Israel. Of course, they may adopt the religion or ideology of Americanism in its place (an ideology, in spite of its crimes, you seem to have no problem with as it’s not Jewish). 

The point is that the internalization of racism is not inherent in identifying ones cultural and ethnic roots as being Jewish, and to do so, is nothing uniquely Jewish.

Just as it is pointless talking about a generic Catholic without taking into consideration country of origin, national psychology, and most importantly class – it’s meaningless talking about a generic Jew.

There are Catholics whose politics begin with “what’s good for the Catholics” . . . mostly to be found in the Vatican, but not exclusively. There are many Muslims who say the same about Islam.

But millions of people identify as Catholics and Muslims who do not start their political equation from identity politics. There is no “Catholic ideology or Muslim ideology” above national and class interest. The world view of a Sri Lankan catholic peasant has far more in common with an Indian Hindu peasant than with a Brazilian catholic finance capitalist. That’s not to say there are no instances of tribalism that influence sections of the population, but again, nothing uniquely Jewish about it.

There is no generic Jew.

A Canadian of Jewish Ashkenazi East European origin, who has no religious beliefs but identifies as a cultural Jew, opposes the Israeli occupation, has some nostalgic feelings about grandparents who spoke Yiddish and made chicken soup on Fridays, and most importantly understands that the Nazis made no differentiation between believers and non-believers when they knocked down the door . . . has far more in common, shares more of a world view with a progressive Muslim Canadian, than with an Israeli Jew who is dripping with racist hatred for Palestinians.

Hitler and the Zionists created a vision of a generic Jew with a metaphysical identity, transmitted by blood or the product of a Jewish soul. The Zionists concocted that this “identity” necessarily leads to support for the State of Israel. That’s why they promoted Hebrew as a modern language and virtually suppressed Yiddish – to invent an identity out of time and place.

Your thesis is the same as the Zionists. Your “Jewish ideology” exists only in abstract form and you also conclude it necessarily leads to support for Zionism. Unless a Jew renounces being a Jew, as you have, they must believe in “exclusiveness, exceptionalism, racial supremacy and a deep inherent inclination toward segregation” . . . in one form or the other. Your definition transcends nation and class, because for you, the Jewish identity trumps all other factors.

You write on the comments section of TRNN, “My scholarship is not concerned with Judaism (the religion) nor am I referring to Jews (the people). I am critical of Jewish Identity politics and Jewish ideology. I elaborate on Jewish-ness and Jewish culture as opposed to Judaism. Race, genetics or biology have never been part of my study. If anything, I am critical largely of Jewish secular politics and culture rather than the Jewish religion.”

Your writing is so self-contradictory that I’m sure you can find a quote that will deal with all criticisms, even if your statements are opposed to each other.

You write in your email to me and elsewhere, “Zionism is a dynamic continuation of Jewish-ness: it (Zionism) is racist, exclusive, supremacist and self- centered, yet it is not Judaic. It has very little to do with Judaism. It may be messianic in a territorial sense, yet it lacks the Judaic divinity. In fact, in this sense, Zionism opposes Judaism." (The Wandering Who footnote 46, P’197)

Yet in the same email you write, “However, it is rather obvious and very embarrassing to admit that the Judaic God, as portrayed by Moses in Deuteronomy 6:10, is an immoral and evil God. It is a God who leads his people to plunder, robbery and theft.”

Further down you write “In short, it is actually impossible not to see the continuum between Deuteronomy 6:10 and the crime against the Palestinian people that is committed by the Jewish State in the name of the Jewish people”. 

So Jewish ideology is not Judaic, but its roots are to be found in a continuum from Deuteronomy 6:10.

You claim this is an attack on an ideology, not Jews themselves, but I think it’s mental gymnastics.  Certainly you admit to hating your own “Jewish ideology”, and when you assert that all those who ascribe to a Jewish identity necessarily have this ideology - it amounts to the same thing.

One could say, as the Catholic Church does, they don’t hate homosexuals, only their behavior, but it is completely disingenuous. Just as the Church is homophobic, your position is anti-Jewish.

Anti-Semitic because even though technically Semites include those from the region, since the late 19th century the term has been used to mean hatred of Jews. So I think Max Blumenthal’s charge is justified.

Do I believe you hate all Jews? No. But your theory leads to that.

I think you are rejecting a vicious form of racism that permeates Israeli society. For that I applaud you. It’s not easy to break with the pressure put on Israelis to fit the mold and give up any independent thinking.

This racism does express itself amongst some people of Jewish origin in North America and elsewhere, who as a result of experiencing the WWII genocide, or in a desperate search for meaning in their lives, or to create business alliances or advance their careers, have latched on to a fictitious poisonous brew cooked up by Zionist leaders to win support for the occupation.

But there are people who identify as Jews around the world, who reject all of this and share most, if not all, of the positions of the Palestinian solidarity movement. 

Your “Jewish ideology” also has nothing to do with the brave Israeli Jews who put their lives and freedom on the line working in the solidarity movement, or refuse to join the armed forces, and other forms of resistance. Most of them could leave but choose to stay and fight. They don’t have to renounce their identity as a Jew to denounce the racist nature of the state and call for an end to the occupation.

You have many critics who are activists and Jews in the Palestinian solidarity movement. You seem to have special venom for them, denouncing them as just another form of Zionist ideologues. 

But you have also been denounced by leading Palestinians. In a statement of which you must be aware, signed by twenty-three Palestinian activists, it says: 

Atzmon’s politics rest on one main overriding assertion that serves as springboard for vicious attacks on anyone who disagrees with his obsession with “Jewishness”. He claims that all Jewish politics is “tribal,” and essentially, Zionist. Zionism, to Atzmon, is not a settler-colonial project, but a trans-historical “Jewish” one, part and parcel of defining one’s self as a Jew. Therefore, he claims, one cannot self-describe as a Jew and also do work in solidarity with Palestine, because to identify as a Jew is to be a Zionist. We could not disagree more. Indeed, we believe Atzmon’s argument is itself Zionist because it agrees with the ideology of Zionism and Israel that the only way to be a Jew is to be a Zionist”. I don’t think these leading Palestinian activists can be accused of basing their critique of you on their “Jewish ideology”.

I’m going to post this letter in the comments section under the Blumenthal interview. As far as you answering Max goes, or responding to this letter, you are free to write a response and have it posted there. But I will not interview you about these issues.

I believe your theories have no historical or factual basis. I share the view that your theories serve Zionist propaganda and divide the solidarity movement. I concur that your thesis is anti-Semitic at its core. I don’t think a debate about these issues is called for or serves any kind of useful intellectual endeavor. I will not get into a drawn out back and forth with you on this.

While I appreciate much of your critique of the Israeli state, your theoretical work on the roots of Zionism is just not a serious analysis.

Your hatred for all things politically left, especially Jewish and left, is superficial and banal. I quote your email to me, “Sadly we have to admit that hate-ridden plunder of other people’s possessions made it into the Jewish political discourse both on the left and right. The Jewish nationalist would rob Palestine in the name of the right of self-determination, the Jewish progressive is there to rob the ruling class and even international capital in the name of world working class revolution. I better stay out of it. “

It’s beyond me how you can’t see that the Israeli state is a product and significant piece of the system of international capital, something you seem anxious to defend from “Progressive Jewish robbers”. Here you reveal your ideological roots as a defender of the “ruling class”.

Your grandfather would have been proud; you describe him in your book as a “. . . veteran Zionist terrorist. A former prominent commander in the right-wing Irgun terror organization”. You write, “More than anything, though, my grandfather hated Jewish leftists”.

When you equate the militarist Zionist state's occupation of Palestinian lands with those who want a more equitable society, and call them all plunderers who share this “Jewish ideology” - then you also hate Jewish leftists "more than anything". You hate them more than Zionism and building a united front against it.

Paul Jay

Senior Editor
The Real News Network

28 February 2016

From a Jewish Ghetto to a Ghetto Jewish State

Netanyahu plans fence around Israel to protect it from 'wild beasts'
Israeli PM says proposed barrier would also solve problem of Hamas tunnels from Gaza, but plan already has critics in his own cabinet

You might be forgiven for thinking, following Netanyahu’s announcement that his reason for wanting to build a wall surrounding Greater Israel, because of the danger of ‘wild beasts’, that lions, tigers, elephants etc. were common species in the Middle East.  Unfortunately I have to disappoint you.  They are completely absent from the Middle East.
What Netanyahu was referring to was human beings – Arabs to be precise.  And not only the Arabs outside Israel but the Palestinians inside Greater Israel are also ‘wild beasts’.  According to Deputy Defence Minister, Eli Dahan, Palestinians are animals of the non-human variety.  [see New deputy defense minister called Palestinians ‘animals’Times of Israel 11.5.15.]

Rabbi Dahan when asked what he would do if a law permitting gay marriage was proposed in the Knesset responded ‘under no circumstances. A Jew and a goy [non-Jew]can also not marry.”   He explained that “In any case, a Jew always has a much higher [level] soul than a goy, even if he is a homosexual ... ‘The hierarchy of the human species as told by Eli Ben Dahan

Dahan’s ministerial responsibilities include the Civil Administration i.e. Military Rule over the Palestinians in the West Bank.  As far as he is concerned, the Palestinians he rules over are human animals, which was precisely the attitude of the Nazis to the Jews.  They were ‘human cattle.’  Which was why Jews were deported to the extermination camps in cattle trucks.

Politicians such as David Cameron have nothing to say about this overt racism.  And why should they?  They have signed up to support the Jewish state come what may and includes turning a blind eye to its racism, its theft of Palestinian land etc.

We might expect someone like Jeremy Corbyn to have something to say about the matter but he too has gone AWOL on the question of Palestine.

But it is one of life’s ironies that Israel is the living antithesis to the major act of liberation of European Jews in the 19th Century, the Emancipation of Jewry.  Contrary to the assertion of academics like Rumy Hasan [see Dangerous Liaisons: The Clash between Islamism and Zionism (NG Publishing, 2013), see my Review in the Journal of Holy Land Studies] Zionism isn’t so much a  product of the Enlightenment as a reaction against it.  Just as the Dreyfuss Affair was a reaction against the French Revolution and the Emancipation of French Jews so Zionism began from a rejection of the Enlightenment.
A Palestinian girl walks in front of a section of the Israeli barrier in al-Ram in the West Bank on the outskirts of Jerusalem, May 25, 2011. The government is planning to surround the entirety of Israel with security barriers.
As Max Nordau, the Vice-President of the Zionist Organisation explained at the first Zionist Congress in 1897 Emancipation was the consequence of the “geometric mode of thought of French rationalism” By this he meant that there hadn't been a sincere change in the attitude of non-Jews to Jews but that the logic, the rationale of the French Revolution, with its call for liberty, equality and fraternity, dictated that the Jews too must be given their freedom.
For Nordau Zionism was an attempt “to transform millions of physically degenerate proletarians” i.e. the Jews of E Europe. Nordau’s only doubts regarding Zionism were that the Jews might not be “anthropologically fit for nationhood.” [Complete Diaries of Theodore Herzl p. 275/276].
Zionism hated the Enlightenment and the emancipation of Jews because the ghetto kept Jews together, prevented marrying out and assimilation.  In this they were at one with the Orthodox Jews also saw their power disappear as the walls of the ghetto crumbled.  The ghetto and anti-Semitism kept Jews together, which is the secular purpose of Zionism.  Emancipation, free thought, inter-mixing allowed Jews to live with non-Jews and ‘disappear’ into them.
'Losses' to assimilation, i.e. the voluntary loss of Jewish identity is equated in the racist Zionist mind to physical destruction in the gas chambers
That is why Zionists compare assimilation, the free decision by Jews not to retain their Jewish identity, because they marry non-Jews etc. to the holocaust, which involved the physical destruction of millions of Jews.  Likewise the existence of abortion was also compared to the losses incurred in the holocaust by former Chief Rabbi Emmanuel Jakobovitz. [see an article in the Settlers News 
Agency Arutz Sheva Op-Ed: The Silent Holocaust]

It is therefore one of life’s ironies that the Jewish Ghetto, one of the most infamous of social institutions in Europe, has now been recreated in the Jewish State of Israel.  The Jewish Ghetto was first created in Venice in 1516 and the Roman ghetto, created by Pope Paul IV in 1555, was the last ghetto to be abolished, when the Italians took Rome from the Pope in 1882.

But whereas the Jews of Europe didn’t have much choice about having to live in a ghetto Israeli Jews are now going to erect their own ghetto walls to keep the non-Jewish beasts at bay.  Having already sealed off much of the West Bank with their Separation Fence, the Zionists are now going to complete the job.

Tony Greenstein

Binyamin Netanyahu inspects the new fence at the border between Jordan and Israel near Eilat, saying: ‘In our neighbourhood, we need to protect ourselves from wild beasts.’ Photograph: Marc Israel Sellem/Pool/EPA

Netanyahu plans fence around Israel to protect it from'wild beasts'

Binyamin Netanyahu has announced his intention to “surround all of Israel with a fence” to protect the country from infiltration by both Palestinians and the citizens of surrounding Arab states, whom he described as “wild beasts”.

The Israeli prime minister unveiled the proposal during a tour of the Jordan border area in Israel’s 
south, adding that the project – which would cost billions of shekels – would also be aimed at solving the problem of Hamas infiltration tunnels from Gaza, a recent source of renewed concern.
He called the border project a part of a “multi-year plan to surround Israel with security fences to protect ourselves in the current and projected Middle East”.

Describing the need for new walls and fences on Tuesday, Netanyahu said: “In our neighbourhood, we need to protect ourselves from wild beasts.

“At the end of the day as I see it, there will be a fence like this one surrounding Israel in its entirety. We will surround the entire state of Israel with a fence, a barrier.”

Netanyahu said the Israeli government was also examining ways of sealing gaps in the existing separation wall that runs along large areas of the occupied West Bank.

That separation wall – ordered to be built at great cost by former prime minister Ariel Sharon – was originally credited with a drop in the number of violent attacks by Palestinians in Israel, not least suicide bombings, a key feature of the second intifada in the first few years of this century.

That judgment has been undermined by the apparent ease with which Palestinians assailants have managed to enter Israel in the current wave of violence since October.

The war in Gaza in 2014 also demonstrated how easy it was for Hamas to tunnel beneath the barriers surrounding the coastal enclave into Israel itself.

“If you’re thinking of erecting a fence there you have to take into account that they could tunnel underneath it,” Netanyahu said. “The people who said that there is no significance to [retaining] territory in the modern age should go to Gaza.”

The proposal was, however, criticised by one of Netanyahu’s own cabinet ministers, education minister Naftali Bennett of the hard-right Jewish Home party, who has been embroiled in a series of recent disagreements over security policy with the prime minister.

Commenting on the proposal, Bennett said: “The prime minister spoke today about how fences are needed. We are wrapping ourselves in fences. In Australia and New Jersey there is no need for fences.”

Netanyahu’s use of the phrase “wild beasts” – also translated as “predators” – recalled his use of equally incendiary language about Israeli Arabs on the eve of last year’s elections whom he described as “coming out in droves”.

The prime minister made his comments as he visited a section of approximately 18 miles of fence being built from the Red Sea city of Eilat to near where Israel is constructing a new international airport. That alone is costing $77m (£53m). In 2013, Israel also completed a five-metre-high fence along its border with Sinai.

27 February 2016

Time for Palestine Solidarity Campaign to Break with the Quisling PA

The Banana Position - A Torture Stress Position Used by Israel
 This is a shocking report from Electronic Intifada.  Not only does the PA torture most of those arrested by its Preventive Security Forces but it also hands those it has tortured onto the Israeli military in order that they can be detained and tortured again.
Article on the Oslo Accords October 1993 predicting the collaboration of the Palestinian security forces
We know that Quisling-in-Chief Mahmoud Abbas has defended the ‘sacred’ nature of the PA’s co-operation with the Israeli military.  Abbas vows to uphold ‘sacred’ security coordination with Israel
Israeli doctors are an essential part of the torture system
 We also know that Abbas’s security forces have done their best to quell the latest uprising against the Israeli occupation.
Stress positions used by Israel and Palestinian security forces
The Times of Israel reported that:
‘Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told the leaders of his Fatah movement’s Tanzim militant wing Sunday to immediately work to calm spiraling tensions with Israel….. Abbas has said several times he is working to calm tensions and doesn’t want to see violent unrest spread, though Israeli officials accuse him of inciting a spate of terror attacks and violent West Bank clashes. 
Abbas has also spoken in recent days to Fatah leaders who have led calls for more terror attacks against Israelis, including Mahmoud al-Alul and Sultan Abu al-Inin, and demanded that they cease making statements in support of such attacks.’

Stop urging violence, Abbas tells Fatah militant leaders

According to Israel Today,  in an interview with Defence News, Major General Majid Faraj, the head of Palestinian intelligence, said that in the previous three months the PNA security forces prevented approximately 200 attacks against Israelis and detained about 100 ‘potential terrorists and confiscated their weapons’.

It is absolutely clear that the PA and its security forces operate as a sub-contracted arm of Israel’s military.  It does the dirty work for the Israeli armed forces.  In October 1993 I wrote, in an article Birthright sold for a mess of potage for London Labour Briefing [which students of the Bible and the story of Jacob and Esau will recognise!)  which criticised the then almost universally applauded Oslo Accords: (see)
‘The agreement provides for a Palestinian police force of up to 30,000 strong.  Their first duty will be to suppress Palestinian dissent and any resistance to the Accord.  Little wonder that this provision evokes such Israeli enthusiasm…. This agreement will lead, not to an independent state but to further misery and defeat… In effect the prison guards will be removed from inside to outside the prison walls… There will be plenty of pretexts for the Israeli army to go back into the autonomous areas…’

It is almost embarrassing how accurate this article is in its predictions.  Every single prediction has come true.  Yet I didn’t have a crystal ball.  Fortune telling is not my expertise.  A simple Marxist analysis of what the Oslo Accords represented, stripped of the nationalist rhetoric and a concrete analysis of the situation of the Palestinians resulted in an article that predicted, quite correctly, that the Oslo agreement represented a ‘massive victory for imperialism’.
Israeli actor in torture session
We can begin to erode that victory by first of all cutting our links with the PA and not giving it any 
credibility.  That means cutting links with the Palestinian mission in London led by Professor Hassasian.  Those with any illusions in this mission should think carefully.  Despite his rabble rousing speeches, the London mission is part and parcel of the PA’s operation. 
Another Israeli stress position that Palestinian forces also use
Recently I wrote twice to the Mission suggesting that they might make their voice heard over the death sentence (later commuted to 800 lashes and 8 years in prison) for Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh  Unsurprisingly I heard nothing by way of a reply.

Tony Greenstein

Shikma - Israeli Torture and Detention Centre

PA collaborates with Israel’s torture agency

Charlotte Silver 25 February 2016

Shikma prison in Ashkelon is the site of routine torture of Palestinians by Israeli interrogators, according to a new report.

Rafael Ben-Ari Chameleons Eye

Palestinian prisoners are being held in painful positions for up to 35 hours, according to a new report.
The Israel Security Agency, known as the Shin Bet, is confining detainees to filthy cells smaller than the size of an adult body stretched out, the report also reveals.

Compiled by the Israeli human rights organizations HaMoked and B’Tselem, the report focuses on the Shikma interrogation center in Ashkelon, a city in present-day Israel.

It is based on 116 affidavits from Palestinian “security prisoners,” most of whom were still under detention when they testified.

The detainees – the majority men under the age of 25 from the Hebron area of the occupied West Bank – recalled their arrest, transfer, interrogation and holding conditions to attorneys while sitting behind a glass partition, with their legs tied to the chair and under the supervision of a prison guard.
The report is a product of a three-year investigation. More than half of those interviewed reported they were forbidden to meet a lawyer or denied access to the International Committee of the Red Cross for all or part of their time at Shikma.

That is despite how Israel’s own prison rules stipulate that a prisoner must be allowed access to the Red Cross within two weeks of detention.


The report also highlights the collaboration between the Palestinian Authority Preventive Security force and Shin Bet.

Thirty-nine of the detainees interviewed were arrested and interrogated by the Palestinian Authority before being arrested by Israel.

Most of those were arrested by Israel less than a month after being released by the PA, and usually interrogated about the same matters.

Adi Awawdeh, 21, was detained by the PA for 70 days, during which he was physically and mentally tortured. Just a week after he was released, Awawdeh was arrested by Israel. When he arrived at Shikma, his interrogator showed him his file from the PA and said, “Here’s your file. It’s all ready. Do you want to add anything and save us some time?”

The report accuses the doctors at the detention facility of complicity in the torture program. One 18-year-old high school student had a swollen face because of the beating he received by soldiers on the way to Shikma.

Although the student also had epilepsy, mental health issues and a head injury resulting from being hit by shrapnel two years earlier, a doctor at the center pronounced him to be healthy.

The student was not provided with regular medication during his 44 days at the center. After losing consciousness while being tied to a chair on one occasion, a doctor gave him painkillers and his interrogation continued.

Court-approved cruelty

The report notes that the ill-treatment at Shikma is far from isolated. It makes clear that the interrogation system followed in the center was shaped by the Israeli state and describes cruel and degrading treatment as “inherent” to the Shin Bet’s policies.

Israel’s justice ministry has responded to the report dismissively, charging the authors with “distorting the existing reality” to advance an agenda on the basis of “several isolated incidents.”

But in fact the interrogation methods described in the report bear a striking resemblance to the methods the Israeli government and judiciary have already sanctioned.

In 1987, the state-appointed Landau Commission reviewed the Shin Bet’s interrogation methods. Headed by Moshe Landau, a former president of the Israeli high court, the commission concluded that both physical and psychological “pressure” were necessary to defend Israel against “hostile terrorist activity.”

“Terrorism,” according to the Landau Commission, included essentially any activity related to Palestinian nationalism.

An unpublished annex to the commission’s report listed interrogation tactics that it deemed acceptable. That list has been approved by the Israeli state.

In 1999, Israel’s high court ostensibly banned the Shin Bet from using the list of Landau-approved techniques, but left the option available in cases of “ticking bombs.” This exception was regularly invoked after the second intifada broke out only two years later.

The decision gave Israel a legal framework within which it could torture that the United States would later replicate.

According to the US Senate report on torture published in 2014, the CIA argued in 2001 that “the Israeli example” could be used “as a possible basis for arguing that torture was necessary to prevent imminent, significant, physical harm to persons, where there is no other available means to prevent the harm.”

Israel’s torture and abuse has never been reserved for “ticking bombs.”

Firas Misk, a 24-year-old from Hebron, was arrested while working in Tel Aviv without a permit to be in Israel.

“They banged my head against the wall several times … At least three of them sat on top of me, beating the hell out of me, punching and hitting my head and chest with clubs,” Misk said.

Cells like graves

The new report demonstrates that physical violence begins immediately upon arrest, which frequently occurs in the middle of the night.

“Imagine being in bed with your wife and soldiers coming in just like that. I woke up to see a soldier in front of me, pointing a gun at me,” Ashraf Asfur, a 34-year-old student and farmer from Hebron, said.

Violence upon arrest can consist of slamming a detainee’s head against the wall to beating sessions that last up to an hour and a half. One detainee reported that he was beaten until he passed out.

The very little food the prisoners receive once they arrived at Shikma was reportedly not fit for human consumption. Detainees report being given dishes of raw, moldy and foul-smelling food, sometimes uncooked chicken and rotten eggs.

At Shikma, interrogation sessions can last more than 24 hours. The detainees were held there for between three and 58 days.

During their interrogations, detainees were placed in non-standard chairs that force them into straining positions. For instance, their chairs would be tilted backwards or forwards or the legs weren’t even.

Some reported that their chair had a fifth leg that was affixed to the ground in the middle of the chair, so that they would swirl around on their chair throughout the interrogation.

In their cell, detainees were provided filthy, threadbare blankets, too thin to give them any respite from their cold cells that were infested with cockroaches, flies and other insects. Many prisoners developed fungal infections and other skin problems.

Some detainees were held in solitary confinement for 18 consecutive days.

“A solitary confinement cell: it’s like a grave, with yellow light and no window,” said Nur al-Atrash, a 25-year-old from Hebron. “They pump in really cold air, you feel helpless. There were times when I started banging my head against the wall, I didn’t know what else to do.”

Awad Ghaidan, a 21-year-old owner of a car parts store from Qibya, also likened his cell to a grave.

“You start dreaming and imagining stuff,” he said. “Sometimes I asked myself whether I was dead or alive.”