Torture: Reading Améry, Rereading Jewish Law

Amos Israel-Vleeschhouwer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Jewish law espouses several attitudes toward torture, from total prohibition, through condoning, to proactive advocating for using torture under certain conditions. Reading Améry’s testimony and bearing it in mind, has significant heuristic value in rereading the Jewish legal sources related to torture. Combining readings of cultural narrative with legal and political analysis raises the possibility of a categorical and universal criminalization of torture in Jewish thought and Jewish law. I argue that biblical narrative recognizes components of the modern concept of torture and their aggregative impact. It criminalizes torture even when ostensible justifications can be invoked, demanding individual accountability, as well as institutional preventative actions. I share intriguing complexities that became apparent from rereading specific Jewish laws related to torture. The aggregation of the new insights makes a compelling case for a Jewish-based position that torture be controlled, limited, and even criminalized, while leaving intact the possibility of acquitting perpetrators from punishment.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationJean Améry
Subtitle of host publicationBeyond the Mind's Limits
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9783030280956
ISBN (Print)9783030280949
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019


  • Améry
  • Jewish law
  • Torture


Dive into the research topics of 'Torture: Reading Améry, Rereading Jewish Law'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this