Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Ends and Means

During the recent conflict with Hamas a young Palestinian was apprehended by Israeli forces. The prisoner was a bomb expert who possessed a lot of information on the whereabouts of a tunnel from Gaza to an Israeli kibbutz. The Israelis didn't know which kibbutz was threatened but they did know that the tunnel had been packed with explosives timed to detonate at the common dinner hour in the kibbutz. A hundred Israeli families would be wiped out if all went according to Hamas' plan. Such is the nature of the enemy the Israelis have on their border.

At any rate, an Israeli interrogator was brought in to question the terrorist. The interrogator was also a young man, as young as the man he was questioning. He was under enormous pressure to find out where the tunnel is before the explosives were to detonate in a few hours. How did he do it?

You can read the account of this episode from the war here.

As you read the article ask yourself these questions: Did the end justify the means? If so, why? If not, why? What do you suppose eventually happened to Hamid? Would the interrogator have been justified in using physical torture to get the information from the prisoner? If so, why? If not, why not? Is the infliction of physical pain morally distinct from the infliction of emotional pain? If yes, then how?