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Israeli Airport Security Now Checking Emails

Associated Press picks up story from advocacy blog Mondoweiss

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Ben-Gurion Airport last month.(Jack Guez/AFP/GettyImages)

A story, and a story behind that story.

The story is that some travelers to Israel, particularly Muslims and/or those of Arab descent, are being asked, upon arrival at TLV, to log in to their emails and allow security officials to click around. What’s new here isn’t the ethnic profiling, which is S.O.P. for Israeli security and, though justifiably controversial, is credited with efficiently (albeit on a very small scale) preventing acts of terrorism. The news is the email component, which feels like a new type and degree of invasiveness. Officials search for keywords like “West Bank” and “Palestine,” the AP reports, and take down names and information that they find.

The story behind the story is that, as one blog points out, the AP—almost by definition the most mainstream of journalistic outlets—almost certainly picked up the story from Mondoweiss. Last Friday, the anti-Zionist blog’s eponymous founder, Philip Weiss, reported that a Palestinian-American was asked to show security her email at Ben-Gurion. Today, the AP ran its story, with that same Palestinian-American in the lede. You do the math.

UPDATE: I didn’t see this but the AP updated its story to credit Mondoweiss with first reporting certain individual cases.

The point, I think, is less that the AP is taking cues from a site that has it in for the Jewish state. The point, rather, is that the proliferation of outlets of all kinds, including those that have it in for the Jewish state, means that more news stories—and this story is undoubtedly newsworthy—are going to come to the attention of non-niche journalists and thereby gain wider notice. Maybe Israel has determined that the security it gets with these searches is worth the accompanying bad press (to say nothing of the accompanying violation of privacy). But I sure hope it didn’t suspect that word might not get out. In today’s world, there’s always a publisher.

Israel Asks Arab Visitors to Open Email to Search [AP/NJ.com]
How Mondoweiss Democratizes the Discourse [Sixteen Minutes to Palestine]
Related: U.S. Embassy to American in Trouble in Israel [Mondoweiss]
Mondo Weiss [Tablet Magazine]

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emunadate says:

Should Israel handle the Muslim’s any other way…
http://emunadate.blogspot.co.il/2011/03/three-things-about-islam-mirror.html

alexander feoktistov says:

How about the real story behind the story: that these girls were members of SJP – a group committed to the destruction of Israel, that one of them had traveled to Lebanon – a country that is at war with Israel, and that they logged in to their e-mail voluntarily (as their first hound account demonstrates). AP doesn’t mention what the first hand account mentions: that the BG officials searched for “International Solidarity Movement.” I’m not surprised that Israel doesn’t want a bunch of spoiled children running around jumping in front of bulldozers and messing with soldiers trying to do their job

Rebecca Lesses says:

Perhaps the story started on Mondoweiss, but Amira Hass of Haaretz has published her own article, presumably relying on her own reporting, not that of Mondoweiss. Does it really matter where the AP learned about this practice? I’m not a fan of Mondoweiss, but if they publicize something that is actually very problematic, it’s good for other news sources to pick up the story. If you read Hass’s article, you’ll see that the visitors were not coming to Israel in order to engage in political activity, but to visit. 

hi Mark. i think you missed an important part of the story. the breaking news on mondoweiss was not only Tamari’s story “US Embassy to American in trouble in Israel: ‘You’re not Jewish? Then we can’t do anything to help you’”, which had over 700 shares on facebook, but the next day Mondoweiss published “‘ Do you feel more Arab or more American?’: Two women’s story of being detained and interrogated at Ben Gurion” by Najwa Doughman and Sasha Al-Sarabi, which got more than 20,000 shares on facebook. The story of the gmail was from Doughman and al Sabari’s article, not Tamari’s. AP,likely reading both, then possibly interviewed Tamari themselves and confirmed she had also been subject to the same email treatment. AP, further in their story also cites Doughman and al Sabari. Both stories first published on Mondoweiss.

Rebecca, Amira Hass also cites Doughman’s article on Mondoweiss:  “According to a piece Doughman wrote several days later on the blog Mondoweiss”

Joseph Nahmias says:

Israel is a sovereign state and can screen people entering the country in any way she chooses.  This woman is an American, not an Israeli. Doesn’t matter whether she was selected thru profiling, past history or just a hunch by airport security, she is a foreigner. 

What hubris to think that a citizen of one country can set the rules of another country. Those are the rules, either abide by them or don’t go there. Make the choice, but quit sniveling about it.

joseph, they didn’t check her laptop. try reading the stories.

robby, that’s some awesome tough talkin’. bottom line, palestine can’t have guests israel doesn’t like. that’s apartheid for you.

on a lighter note israel massacred more chickens tonight in gaza. remember those 30,000 chickens from cast lead? apparently they are back. and their leader is pissed. it’s a job for..you guessed it! israel to the rescue.

How many Israeli- Americans are allowed entrance to Saudi Arabia? 

paul delano says:

The AP is, and has been for many, many years a Left wing Liberal news media on a par with the NYTimes. When it comes to Israel their agenda is the same as every other member of the Liberal Lamestream media, lie, distort and play up every angle to delegitamize the nation of Israel and portray the arabs as innocent victims of Israeli ‘aggression.’

Conditioning entrance to a country, or really any official permission or act, on revealing your passwords – this is horribly wrong no matter who does it or why. If Israel wanted to prevent entrance to someone because they are deemed a security risk – fine. But the act of protecting your privacy isn’t a meaningful indicator of one’s risk level, so preventing entrance on that basis comes off as deeply wrong.
And that’s why Israel earned all that bad press. Which Israel pretends not to care about on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. On the other non Shabbat days, it decries ‘delegitimation’ as a moral threat.
Seems to me if delegitimation is a mortal threat they might stop courting such awful press.

So word gets out. Good. These people are enemies of Israel. They should be happy that it’s just their email that is being checked and not how they would be treated by any of Israel’s neighbours, including Hamas if they were seen as having bad intentions towards those countries. 

OK — Indeed, stories like this that are newsworthy, as you say, do make Israel look bad, and will garner more bad press — and, possibly, diminishing support from American Jews. So what are traditional Zionists to due? Deny the stories? 

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Israeli Airport Security Now Checking Emails

Associated Press picks up story from advocacy blog Mondoweiss

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