Between the Lines

Forgetting Prisoner X

In the early months of 2010, a prisoner was brought to one of Israel’s most secure prisons, the Ayalon facility in Ramla, and put in a cell designed to hold the murderer of Yitzhak Rabin.  None of the prison personnel were told so much as his name, nor was anything known about his alleged crime.  Held in absolute seclusion, his cell monitored day and night, Prisoner X was a man without an identity—and his captors were determined to keep it that way.  When the story leaked out, the Israeli media began to speculate as to prisoner’s identity and the charges, but the Israeli censor soon moved to quash any discussion of the prisoner by issuing one of the most comprehensive bans in the history of media regulation.  An Israeli judge declared not only that was it impermissible to report on this story, but that it was forbidden to report the act of censorship.

The story disappeared from the media until December 2010, when the Israeli online news site Ynet reported that Prisoner X had committed suicide.  The story was immediately taken down as the Israelis frantically tried to suppress what is apparently a very sensitive matter, but now Australia’s public news network has unmasked Prisoner X as Ben Zygier, a.k.a. Ben Alon, a.k.a. Ben Allen, an Australian in his mid-30’s (the son of Geoffrey Zygier, executive director of the Victoria Jewish Community Council),...

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