In order for the Shabak to torture prisoners, it must get the approval of a lawyer, the agency’s “legal advisor.” This person not only approves individual cases of torture, he provides legal justification for it in broader cases that might reach the Supreme Court. He’s the John Yoo of the Israeli security apparatus. Put in Jewish halachic terms, the Israeli agency’s legal advisor is like the rabbi who supervises the slaughter of animals in order to ensure the meat is kosher: the mashgiach. Slaughtering animals, like torture is a dirty business. But if done halachically, the mashgiach permits good Jews to eat confident in notion that they are eating food that satisfies Jewish legal requirements. This lawyer is the mashgiach of torture.
Just as Yoo was rewarded for his dirty work with a prestigious teaching position at UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall (law school), so the Shabak’s torture lawyer has just been awarded with a judgeship. If you’re Israeli you won’t know this individual’s name because his identity lurks beneath that bane of the Israeli national security system. The laws governing the Shabak prohibit naming their officials publicly. But I can tell you here that he is Avi Levy. His name appears in this list of judicial candidates considered by the committee which names new judges.
As mentioned, the media may not identify active or even retired members of the Shin Bet or Mossad. So Levy may not be named there until he leaves the agency for the bench (which is a public post, and therefore no longer shields his name from publication). I believe that torturers and their enablers should see the light of day, as should fruits of their labor, torture itself. Let’s expose it all. The more we do the more difficult it will be for average Israelis to close their eyes to it and pretend it doesn’t exist–or doesn’t matter.
Ironicially, Ynet, in reporting about Levy calls him an “uncompromising man of the law” with no political tendency. I guess torture is considered non-partisan in Israeli society.
I should add that torture is normally meted out in heaping portions to Palestinian prisoners, but in exceedingly small doses to Jewish terror suspects. Ynet, in its report, intimated that the four settlers suspected of murdering the Dawabsheh family have been given “special treatment” which, in Hebrew is a euphemism for abuse and/or torture. Levy’s the guy who would’ve approved this.
In fact, this is another passage which wonderfully whitewashes torture (in the Dawabshe murder case I’ve been reporting) by transforming it from something dirty into something legally kosher:
L. [Levy] and his staff served as a legal bridge between the Shabak interrogators and the leadership of the Attorney General’s office in achieving meaningful progress in the investigation.
It’s also important to note that a Supreme Court decision supposedly outlawed torture against all security prisoners unless there was a “ticking bomb” scenario. Though liberal Zionists love to talk about the humanitarian ‘treasure’ that is the Israeli Supreme Court, torture is but one of many security areas in which the Court’s rulings are honored, if at all, in the breach. In other words, when the IDF or intelligence agencies feel the need to violate the Supreme Court’s decisions, they do so with impunity; leaving this judicial body’s reputation in tatters.
You will never hear any Israeli (except perhaps a few lonely voices on the left) criticize the promotion of a Shabak torture enabler to a district court judge. This promotion not only rewards such individuals, it also puts yet another friendly judge in place to whom the secret police may turn when they need a gag order, approval of torture, or favorable ruling on any particular matter that’s important to them. In short, it advances the interests of the national security state.
Returning to the Dawabshe case, there is still a gag order preventing the Israeli media from reporting the names of the settler suspects in the murders (which I’ve reported here). But some courageous journalists are chafing at the bit. An NRG (Maariv) reporter even published a screenshot of my post which names all four suspects. Considering the Shabak has a gag order in place prohibiting this, that’s one brave newspaper and reporter! Or, as an Israeli friend wrote: “NRG has balls!”
This story will eventually likely go the way of all courageous pieces of journalism which defy the censor and gag orders. So I offer it here.
In contrast to NRG’s profile in courage award, Haaretz’s Amos Harel wins the profile in mendacity award for his current column in which he falsely claims the following:
The media vacuüm created between vague headlines about progress made in the investigation into the Jewish terror attack…and between the renewed interest expressed by journalists in the Duma case, was also filled by unsubstantiated reports disseminated in every possible forum, from WhatsApp to foreign blogs.
Harel’s lazy reporting omits what is mentioned more articulately in the NRG article to which I linked: that there was a false rumor that terror suspect, Hanoch Ganiram was the grandson of Israeli cabinet minister, Uri Ariel. I read this on Facebook and it was reported elsewhere. But within an hour of this inaccurate report other Israelis were correcting it with this: in truth, Ganiram is the grandson of a 1980s era convicted Jewish settler terrorist, Yitzhak Ganiram.
Since I am the only foreign blog reporting on the innards of this story, Harel was referring to this blog. He lazily or intentionally swept me up in his denigration of social media reporting of the case. The truth is that I have never reported anything “unsubstantiated” about this case. Everything I’ve reported has been correct.
Further, the only reason there is pressure on Shabak and the police to report this story more transparently is the work published here.
Not to mention that if you read Harel’s report, it contains 15% of the information in my posts on this case. Most importantly, even on matters that he could report on because they’re not under gag, he hasn’t followed the threads I’ve been able to stitch together (notably the connection between “progress” being made on the case and the pressure placed on Shabak by two legal petitions before the Supreme Court).
You may ask whether either Harel or Haaretz’s editor, Aluf Benn care about the inaccuracy of this claim. The answer is No, they don’t. They’ve smeared or ignored original stories I’ve broken before and will do so again. Virtually no one takes them to task, allowing them to get away with journalistic malpractice. So the next time you read praise of Haaretz in the pages of The New Yorker or other liberal Zionist publications, remember this.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.