November 9, 2005
Dear Jon Stewart,
I phoned ABC and left a comment
for The Daily Show. I hope you got it.
I'm glad you're against torture.
I just wish you were also against torture by Israel. I was pretty
astounded to hear you chatting with John McCain last night, nodding
along as AIPAC-buddy McCain explained that the US should emulate
Israel, "which doesn't torture people."
Jon, you're a really smart
guy. Is it possible that you don't know that there are 8,000
Palestinians in Israeli prisons right now, and that many of them
have been tortured, some of them at this very minute? <
Is it possible that you didn't
read the article about Mustafa Dirani testifying in an Israeli
court for ten hours about his
gruesome torture by Israeli interrogators?
Is it possible you've never
ever talked to Palestinians, even Palestinian-Americans, and
heard their graphic
descriptions of the Israeli prison experience?
Jon, I know you're not dumb,
and I'd like to think you're not hypocritical, so maybe you just
really have missed the boat on this one. Therefore, in thanks
for all the great laughs you've given us, I'd like to help you
out a bit and invite you to join us on our next trip to the West
Bank and Gaza. That way you can learn about things. The trip's
on us, and the humus is great.
Sure, Israeli forces may kill
or injure us, like they did Rachel Corrie, James Miller, Tom
Hurndall, Brian Avery, and thousands upon thousands of Palestinian
men, women, and children but, hey, they probably won't.
Alison Weir is executive director of If
Americans Knew. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
P.S. Below is a news report
that I think you missed, Jon, but it wasn't really your fault.
Although this article can be discovered on some websites, almost
no American news media actually printed it.
Militant Says He Was Abused
By PETER ENAV
TEL AVIV, Israel - A Lebanese
guerrilla leader about to be freed in a prisoner swap testified
Tuesday that Israeli interrogators raped him, sodomized him with
a club and kept him naked for weeks in a round-the-clock effort
to extract information on a missing Israeli aviator.
State prosecutor Shamai Becker
said interrogators never touched Mustafa Dirani. The prosecutor
said Dirani "sang like a bird" and made up allegations
of abuse to explain why he gave Israel information.
Human rights groups have accused
Israel of routinely mistreating Arab prisoners, but rarely to
the extremes Dirani alleged to a Tel Aviv court in his $1.3 million
lawsuit against the Israeli government.
Dirani is one of hundreds of
Arab prisoners to be released Thursday in exchange for an Israeli
businessman and the bodies of three Israeli soldiers - all kidnapped
by the Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah in October 2000.
The prisoners to be freed by
Israel include 400 Palestinians, 34 people from Arab countries
and a German convicted of spying for Hezbollah.
On Tuesday, a white bus filled
with prisoners drove into the Sharon Prison in central Israel
under heavy guard. Prisoners peeked from tiny wire mesh-covered
windows, and some tried unsuccessfully to spread their fingers
in V-for-victory signs.
The German-mediated swap is
to take place Thursday. Security officials said the prisoners
from Arab countries and the German would be flown Wednesday to
Germany. Israel will release the Palestinians into the West Bank
and Gaza Strip, and will hand over 59 bodies of Lebanese militants
killed in clashes with Israeli troops.
All the Palestinians had less
than three years to serve and were not involved in wounding or
killing Israelis, according to a list released Tuesday. About
two-thirds were scheduled to be released this year.
Some Palestinians greeted the
list with disappointment, noting Israel has often freed prisoners
convicted of nonviolent offenses on Muslim holidays or as part
of peace talks.
"I look at this like a
routine release," said Issa Karake, head of the Palestinian
Dirani is among the most prominent
of the prisoners named. Israeli forces burst into his home in
Lebanon in 1994, kidnapped him and held him without charges for
a decade, yet allowed him access to its court system to sue the
government for torture.
On Tuesday, Dirani testified
that interrogators kept him naked and shackled in a secret facility
for a month as six men tortured him, splashing him with hot and
freezing water, shaking him until he fainted and sexually assaulting
him as they demanded information about missing airman Ron Arad.
Israel accuses Dirani of helping
capture Arad, who was caught alive after ejecting from his plane
over Lebanon in 1986.
Israeli and international human
rights groups say Israel has mistreated Arab security detainees
during interrogation by depriving them of sleep, tying them in
painful positions and forcing them to wear hoods.
In 1999, Israel's Supreme Court
banned the blanket use of such practices, saying they could be
used only in specific instances. Human rights activists said
abuse fell off after the ruling but has become more frequent
in the past three years of Israeli-Palestinian fighting.
Dirani's accusations of torture
- which he said took place before the court ruling - were far
more severe than those usually reported, said Yael Stein, research
director at B'tselem, an Israeli human rights group.
"Accusations of rape are
not common," she said. "If it is true, it is very severe."
Dirani, 53, limped badly and
walked with a cane when he entered the courtroom. He had to be
coaxed into giving details.
Dirani said he was interrogated
around the clock for a month by six people, including a man known
only as George, who threatened him, cursed him and repeatedly
squeezed his testicles "until I felt I would die,"
One day a uniformed soldier
nicknamed "Kojak" came into the room and dropped his
pants, and George told Dirani the soldier would sodomize him
if he did not talk, Dirani said.
Days later, Dirani was shackled
and pushed down onto a bench, he said. "I couldn't see or
resist ... I was raped by the soldier. He said he would rape
me, and he did," he told the court.
"Two or three days later
they started raping me with a police baton," he said. "It's
impossible to describe the pain. I yelled to high heaven."
The interrogators took him
to a doctor to stop the bleeding, he said. They also forced him
to drink castor oil, which made him incontinent, and gave him
large diapers as his only clothing.
Israel's Channel Two TV broadcast
an interview with a person, his face in shadows, identified as
the interrogator named George. He denied abusing Dirani, but
said interrogation is a competition between questioners and detainees.
"You must be innovative,"
he said, "and you can't always run and get permission in
Becker, the prosecutor, denied
"All the interrogators
said you sang like a bird and there was no reason to touch a
hair on your head," Becker said as he cross-examined Dirani.
"What's all this about?
You are going back to Lebanon. People will ask how could you
give out this and that information. You'll answer that you are
a heterosexual Muslim. This wouldn't have happened if they hadn't
tortured and thus forced you to talk," Becker said.