Reasonable Torture, or the Sanctities

Colin Dayan

in Speaking about Torture

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780823242245
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780823242283 | DOI:
Reasonable Torture, or the Sanctities

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A memoir-style reflection on a trip to Gaza in winter 2008-09, this chapter calls for a redefinition of torture that moves beyond strictly judicial forms in order to encompass the reality of daily life in an environment designed to engineer the collapse of personality. It details how the logic of terror suffuses life in Gaza, where the very land functions as a prison and the inconspicuous rituals of daily life become sites of irreparable damage, and argues that this lethal magic of state power is less susceptible to critique because it is infused with claims of "reasonable" necessity. Even the names of Israeli campaigns in Gaza, like Operation Cast Lead, are read as providing cover for catastrophic violence in biblical fulfillment, effective re-castings whose logic can be seen in the dismissal in the U.S. and Israel of the Gladstone Commission Report that characterized proceedings against Hamas as war crimes and crimes against humanity. In such a context, the chapter argues for a moral and sentimental as well as a legal definition of torture.

Keywords: Gaza; Terror; Operation Cast Lead; Gladstone Commission Report; PCATI; Crimes against humanity; Dredyl

Chapter.  5209 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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