It’s hard to know where to begin one’s disgust at the reports that Israeli soldiers manning the Erez border crossing from Gaza last month forced Lynsey Addario, a photographer on assignment for the New York Times, to undergo three X-ray body scans in spite of the fact that she was 27 weeks pregnant—that is to say, obviously carrying a child. The Israeli government has apologized, citing a “mishap in coordination,” but also excused it, brandishing the cloak of security precautions to explain the episode. “The Defense Ministry employs strict security measures in order to prevent attacks by terrorists,” went the statement. “We expect people to understand this.”
But what is there to understand, exactly? That it’s OK for teenage checkpoint guards to decide whether it’s safe to expose a fetus to X-rays? That it’s OK for them to treat an American journalist in a cavalier and cruel fashion without, say, stopping to consult with their superiors? Or that it’s OK for the apparatus of the military occupation to continue committing acts that, inevitably, bring shame and embarrassment on Israel, a country that is constantly striving to paint itself as a moral and just haven, one that American Jewish organizations, and the American government, spend millions of dollars and valuable political capital every year defending from delegitimizing attacks suggesting otherwise?
There are people who will say Addario—who earlier this year was taken hostage and mistreated while on assignment in Libya—should never have been someplace as unpredictable as Gaza in her condition at all, even though it’s her job. (Here are the pictures she went there to take.) There are people who will shake their heads at her for agreeing to go through the scanner once, instead of submitting to a strip-search, after it turned out that the crossing’s spokesman, Shlomo Dror, failed to relay her advance request for a low-tech pat-down. There are people who will say that this kind of thing happens in American airports, too, and that it’s unfair to expect guards at the Gaza border to be better-trained or -behaved than TSA screeners at O’Hare.
Let them say it. The truth is there’s simply nothing to excuse, justify, or even really explain why these guards decided to force Addario back through the machine twice, and then three times, “as they watched and laughed from above,” according to Addario’s complaint. Nor would anything make reason of the fact that, afterward, they forced her to strip down to her underwear and lift her shirt to expose her belly for additional inspection. This, from a country that treats women’s fertility and prenatal health as a paramount public policy issue. This, from a country that prides itself on the procedures used by its military. This, from a country whose soldiers should know better than to do anything that they wouldn’t want the world to see on YouTube, and whose commanding officers should know to watch their teenage charges like hawks. This, from a country that imagines itself as the kind of place where Addario, and any other person who posed no threat, is treated with fairness and perhaps even kindness. Thankfully, she seems to be fine. The rest of us should be apoplectic.
Times Photographer Complains of Israeli Soldiers’ ‘Cruelty’ at Border Crossing [NYT]
Defense Ministry Apologizes to NY Times [JPost]
IDF Treats Pregnant NYT Journalist ‘Cruelly’ at Gaza Crossing [+972]
Israeli Thuggery [Time]