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Editor Chides Jewish Media On The Story It Didn’t Cover

Allan Brownfeld, Editor
Special Interest Report
January-February 1997

On Nov. 16, 1996, a New York Times story headed "Israel Allows Use of Physical Force in Arab’s Interrogation," reported a decision of Israel’s Supreme Court to allow the Shin Bet "to continue using methods that, according to human rights groups, constitute torture."  

In his column in Moment (Feb. 1997), editor Hershel Shanks asks: "Did the American Jewish press report the story?" He notes that, "We have tried to check the major Jewish newsweeklies but haven’t found a single mention . . . I confess the Times’ story caused me considerable discomfort. Anybody else?"  

Mr. Shanks writes: "Israel allows what it calls ‘moderate physical force’ in questioning detainees suspected of involvement in terrorist groups . . . The ‘moderate physical force’ includes violent shaking back and forth and from side to side, sleep deprivation, prolonged confinement in tiny, lightless cells and beating. When a prisoner died last year after violent shaking, the rules were changed to permit this only after the approval of the head of Shin Bet. But that, clearly, is not enough."  

Before any physical force is used, Shanks argues, "the Shin Bet should be required to go before a judge and get a ruling that there is adequate evidence to support an affirmative answer to two questions: (1) Is there adequate evidence that a terrorist act is imminent? (2) Is there adequate evidence that the detainee has information that would enable the authorities to foil the attack, and that he is withholding it? . . . "  

The column is written under the headline, "The Story The Jewish Press Didn’t Cover." Mr. Shanks concludes: "If anyone feels Moment has no right or responsibility to express itself on matters such as this, let that person explain what we may comment on and what we should not comment on, and why."  

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