Now they care

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New York Times photographer Lynsey Addario

The Israeli border guards’ brutal treatment of a pregnant NY Times photographer at the Gaza crossing has driven Joe Klein to denounce “Israeli Thuggery” at Time:

Lynsey Addario… was forced to pass through the machine 3 times while being verbally abused and then strip-searched for good measure.

This is completely outrageous, of course. It is another indication that Israel has been brutalized by its occupation of Arab territories since 1967. For those of us who feel strongly about the need for Israel to exist–especially those of us who love the place, warts and all–this incident is yet another reason to fear for Israel’s future.

But what is there to understand, exactly? That it’s okay for teenage checkpoint guards to decide whether it’s safe to expose a fetus to X-rays? That it’s okay 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 okay 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? […]

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.

Oh but Dahlia Scheindlin at +972 gets the story (boldface mine):

Here’s the rub: we get upset when the face is known to us, even by association: New York Times; hostage in Libya; journalist. The fact is this happens all the time, to other 27-week pregnant women with no editor to write the IDF and stand up for them. If you cut them, do they not bleed? And if you wrong them, will they not take revenge?

I’ll say it again: occupation behavior is monster that cannot be silenced on command. Once an occupier of Palestinians at a checkpoint, you will be an occupier of westerners and journalists at the checkpoint, of Arab citizens in Israel, on the roads, in the supermarket, and probably, eventually, in your very own home.

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