Dershowitz fails to see heart of Israeli conflict

To the Editor:

Professor Dershowitz’s letter (11/2) calls for a response.

In my recent guest column in the News (“Dershowitz ignores Israel’s state-sponsored torture,” 11/1) I did not “accuse” Professor Dershowitz of using euphemisms. I pointed out that he suggested that there is no torture in Israel and that instead of using the word torture we should use “extreme interrogation.” To me this is a euphemism for torture the use of which only serves to divert one’s attention from the seriousness of using pain as an interrogation tool.

The fact is that there is torture in Israel including physical abuse and threats. PCATI does not call this “extreme interrogation” rather we identify violations of international law against torture and cruel and inhuman treatment and file well based complaints. As for evidence of torture in Israel: it certainly goes beyond the “self-serving claims” that Professor Dershowitz described.

Dershowitz asks what I would want my government to do in the “ticking bomb” situation he describes. Unlike him, I live this very real angst on a daily basis. On the very same Jewish Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) that he mentioned, my family and I were among the masses of persons exposed to violence. Yet, I expect my government to uphold international law and not to torture!

I believe that the use of torture and cruel treatment is not only absolutely wrong but that it also harms the interrogation and prevents the achievement of viable and life-saving information.

Louis Frankenthaler

Nov. 7

Frankenthaler is the Education & Development Director of the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI).

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