Tag Archives: Civil Liberties

High School Student Lobbies Against Torture at L’Taken

Last week, Bailey Roos of Temple Beth El in San Antonio, Texas lobbied her members of Congress in support of the American Anti-Torture Act last introduced in the 112th Congress as part of our L’Taken social justice seminar. In her speech, Bailey talked about her own perception of torture as it related to her Jewish values and her experience visiting Israel last summer: Read more…

We Can’t Wait Another Year to Close Guantanamo

This Sunday, January 11, marks 13 years since the first detainees arrived at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center. The facility was opened in 2002 to hold and interrogate individuals suspected to be related to the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent “War on Terror” launched by the Bush Administration. Over the past 13 years, 779 prisoners have been held at Guantanamo, 127 of whom remain there today: detained without a trial or even held indefinitely. Read more…

After The Torture Report

Earlier this month, the Senate Select Intelligence Committee’s report on the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program was released to the public. The hope of all who oppose torture is that the report will serve to prevent the behavior described within it from ever happening again, including the key findings that prisoners held by the U.S. or our allies on our behalf were grossly mistreated and abused. After years of opacity, we are finally able to know definitively how inhumane and ineffective “enhanced interrogation” has been.

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Human Rights Day and the Senate Torture Report

Today is Human Rights Day, celebrated worldwide on the anniversary of the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The declaration includes 30 articles, including the right to education, freedom from slavery, and equality under law has been used as a basis for international treaties against discrimination, on behalf of the rights of women and, perhaps most notably on Human Rights Day 2014, the United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT). Read more…

At the U.N. Convention Against Torture, Hints of Positive Change in Eradicating Torture

This past week, the United Nations Convention Against Torture met and examined President George W. Bush and President Obama’s track records on cruel and inhumane treatment of prisoners. The panel that monitors compliance with an international anti-torture was critical of the treatment of prisoners currently being held at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility. They questioned the United States delegation on practices such as the four-hour minimum sleep standards that could lead to unnecessary sleep deprivation, according to a New York Times report from last week.

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Force Feeding, Guantanamo Hunger Strikes, and What Our Rabbis Teach

Torture, while cruel and inhumane, is not something that we often hear about from mainstream media, nor is it something we have written about very recently at the Religious Action Center. The Reform Jewish position on this issue is clear: in a post-9/11 world we understand the need for enhanced national security, and yet we believe that security must be balanced with the importance of civil liberties and bodily autonomy. Experts agree that torturing prisoners or holding them in extended solitary confinement go beyond the practical needs of national security (since torture is found to be an ineffective way to obtain information) and abandon the constitutional right to due process as well as fundamental Jewish values. Nearly six years after President Obama came into office and promised to close Guantanamo Bay, the detention center stays open and the 149 individuals held there remain.

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Remembering 9/11 banner resources for you and your community

Remembering 9/11: Civil Liberties and National Security

Today marks thirteen years since the day a plane flew into the Twin Towers and destroyed the Manhattan skyline, as I had known it for the first nine years of my life.

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June is Torture Awareness Month

Although the 2013-14 L’Taken season is over, I want to reflect on my experience working with high school students on issues of torture and indefinite detention as we prepare to commemorate Torture Awareness Month.

Nearly 300 students participate in each of the six L’Taken weekends, and I had the privilege of teaching a program on issues related to the War on Terror to about 35 of them each weekend. Although these students and I are not that far apart in age, we did grow up in two very different worlds in terms of these topics, which is why it is so important to approach any conversation regarding torture – in particular – with a sense of how an individual might view the world. I am comfortable sharing with the students that I was 10 years old on September 11, 2001, and that I was in Lower Manhattan (in school just a few blocks away from the Twin Towers) on that day. That experience, and the aftermath, has shaped my views and sharpened my sensitivity to the importance of human dignity: ending the use of torture, better sensitivity to language that can be hurtful and hateful, and using our traditions – governmental, religious – to further these agenda.

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