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Israel’s Infuriating Treatment of Lynsey Addario

Soldiers’ harassment of photojournalist was stupid and just plain cruel

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Lynsey Addario in Libya in March.(John Moore/Getty Images)

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]

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The NY Times has a long history of writing slanted pieces when it comes to Israel (see HonestReporting.com for examples). Until other, responsible organizations report similarly, I question the details of the episode. And the fact that Israel has already apologized, doesn’t prove anything. Israel apologizes for too often for things it has not even done (examples available upon request). Something about the story smells and I think it’s the “facts”.

Gederov says:

The security of a nation (under attack by its neighbors)is more important than the rights of any individual.

Sidney says:

What mock indignation! Gaza women posing as pregnant to explain their bulges have carried out suicide operations. If this reporter is not physically up to her job she should be doing something else. Neither pregnancy nor a USA passport gives you a license to do anything.

Lansing Reed says:

Are you kidding? She has no right to enter Israel, and as others have pointed out, the Palis have a history of using “pregnant” women as vehicles to kill Jews. And, why would you believe the complaints of someone who works for the NYT – which repeatedly has lied about Israel, its soldiers and the actions and intentions of your precious “palestinians.” Seriously, what is wrong with you? What part of “war zone” do you not understand?

Andrés Rosendo says:

When I think about the thousands of innocent Israelis and foreigners killed by Palestinian terrorist attacks, I dismiss this kind of “moral” left-wing articles as stupidities. How can you condemn the only democracy in the Middle East for a damn X-ray body scan? This is plain anti-Israel evil.

LONG LIVE ISRAEL AND IDF SOLDIERS

Ulf, Berlin says:

Great comments so far: right to the point.

Jerome says:

Tracy’s indignation is justified. The problem, however, is the occupation. I am sick of the current government’s frequent statements that it has no partner for peace when it continues to be beholden to the settler movement and other illiberal territorial maximalists. The putative reason for the occupation is to ensure Israel’s survival. Instead it is sowing the seeds of Israel’s demise.

Jeremy says:

Bullshit. This article is bullshit. I don’t like commies nor terrorists dressed in rags.

Well isn’t life as replete with paranoid checks and rechecks and pokes and prods and scans on demand and the old awful thuggish once over trice right here at home since the bloody Bush years? You bet it is.

I want my country back and there is no more patience for this kind of pathos period.

Nice to see Mussolini’s black shirts back in action defending this by the way. And we Jews say there no fascists in our our ranks. No just bullies at the beach side, that’s all.

Jules: the most similar thing to fascism today are you and your friends (Chavez, Castro, Islamonazis, Palestinian Hamas and Abbas, Gadaffi, Iran, etc). I stand with Israel, democracy, bravery, justice, truth and progress. I don’t care at all what diasporic liberal “Jews” think.

Oh please! It was a screw up and Israel apologized. Do you see the Egyptian government apologizing for the rape of Lara Logan and the continued sexual assault on female journalists? Typical lefty hypocrisy.

Here’s a better question, is it responsible for a pregnant woman to be trekking the israeli-gaza border?

John Smith says:

whose side are you on?

Lina London says:

It’s hard to believe that a pregnant woman would subject her fetus to so much abuse. There’s no mention in this article that she was held captive and sexually abused just a few months ago in Libya. This woman has a serious problem. She is addicted to the adrenaline rushes of being in war zones. Her poor child to be is absorbing all these horrible hormones including high levels of the damaging cortisol. If the child were actually living and breathing she is the one who would be charged with abuse. Just because the child is inside her doesn’t make that abuse any less real or important.

Ariel from Buenos Aires says:

I’m tired of this fucking anti-Israel articles in the New York Times or self-proclaimed “liberal Jews” speaking against the freest and most threatened democracy of the Middle East. If you wanna go to Gaza, you have to be examined in security controls. If you don’t like it, don’t go there. Period. This woman is very irresponsible with her future child for exposing so much in war zones (she is lucky to be alive), just for being an instrument of Palestinian propaganda. I’m not an American citizen or Jewish, but I scream…

God bless Israel
God bless the US of A

No more lies and media bias

the essence of Zionism, I’m afraid.

The US needs to stop sending financial and military aid to Israel, not only because of this act, but just there attitude in general. They are thugs and its hard to put it any other way. This is not an anti-semetic statement, just an “im tired of Israel’s thug tactics” statement.

The sooner Jews in the U.S. Can seperate themselves from Israel, and realize they are American not Israeli, they can see how obscene Netanyahu and his regime are.

They took that coumtry by force, i say let them defend it on their own…Win, lose or draw without the backing of one more of my tax dollars.

Oh nad to earlier post… How many innocent Arabs have been killed by Israe? I guarantee if you check the UN’s figures on this you would not try to justify Israel’s stance any longer.

Why is this “Israel”? It was a specific incident that the Israeli government apologized for. It wasn’t an organized plot against her. If it had happened at an airport in the USA would it be the US Government at fault?

I suggest Miss Addario stop placing herself in harms way if she is worried about carrying her baby to term. You don’t go to the Gaza border where there is always trouble from Hamas and get put out that you have to go thru an x-ray! Wake-up and smell the terror, Lynsey. SHEESH!

Bob Walton says:

Israel’s less-than-finest, a group of uniformed teenie-thugs, ass-holes and idiots, masquerading as soldiers required adult supervision. Where were their officers?

Dan O. says:

It’s really sad that so many of the commentators don’t appreciate good journalism.

Perhaps, Ms. Addario was photographing at 27-weeks pregnant because she happens to be among the very best at what she does. One can safely surmise that her commitment to what she does explains her position.

When the default point of view is that journalists must be political pawns, this is how journalists are treated.

Sorry for the inconvenience innocent people are facing.
Israel experience;

1:A pregnant Irish woman named Anne-Marie Murphy was about to board an El Al flight at London’s Heathrow airport when her bag was found to contain three pounds of plastic explosives.
There was evidence that Syrian officials were involved and as a result, Britain cut off diplomatic relations with Syria.
2: Members the military wing of Fatah used a vehicle marked with “TV” and “PRESS” insignias assaulted a Israeli guard/

Those are only a few examples of violation of any norm and vale committed by Arab terrorists and their supporters against the defending Israel.
We will prefer not to have any type of security verifications.
Unfortunately we have to implement lessons from real life.

I’d wondered where my usual commenters were this week. HERE THEY ARE!

The “everything is justified because of the threat of terrorism” argument doesn’t really work, what with Addario’s press credentials, passport and fame in her field, unless we think The Terrorists made an awesome mockup of a well-known photojournalist’s passport and then got plastic surgery to look like her. WHICH THEY DID PROBABLY BECAUSE THEY ARE TERRORISTS. But even if it was actually her, she deserved it for the following reasons:

1. Sanctity of pregnancy. She should be home in the kitchen. This’ll show her.

2. New York Times is anti-Semitic. This’ll show them.

3. Israel is inherently evil. This’ll show everybody.

A view of the world with no nuance or critical faculties: PRICELESS.

Oy, you people are killing me already.

Absurd to say that the NYT is ‘anti-Israel’. The Times’ Jerusalem bureau chief, Ethan Bronner, has a son in the IDF (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/07/opinion/07pubed.html). The Times’ reporting is by far more balanced than anything you would find in the hysterical rantings of the right-wing Fox News apparatchiks, or on the other side, in the smug self-righteous rantings of the left-wing Guardian-type apparatchiks.

So please, respect yourself, and drop it already. The soldiers committed an indefensible act, but stating this plain fact does not mean someone is trying to question the legitimacy of Israel or give comfort to its enemies.

US Marine says:

She could always NOT go into Israel, if she disagrees with the procedures. Or, maybe she could have opened her mouth and asked for a pat down. Gee, not too hard to figure out, something an educated journalist should know how to do.

Or, maybe the author suggests that the TSA, Israeli security, etc. hire college graduates to man checkpoints and metal detectors. There are thousands of college educated people just waiting for a mundane, boring, tedious job with little benefits for $25k a year.

How about we have two equal expectations:

1) Israelis man security checkpoints a bit more cautiously

2) Pregnant women handle their fetuses a bit more cautiously – like not going into war zones or voluntarily going through x-ray machines numerous times.

Suzy Lenkowsky says:

I completely agree with the opinions regarding the treatment of Addario. The level of out right stupidity shown by the guards l leaves me speechless. That being said, I am a mother and if ANYONE tried to x-ray me even once, let alone repeatedly, I would’ve been screaming my head off and calling for contact up the chain of command.
I can’t say any job would be more important than my child. Addario needs to get her priorities straight.And YES I am apoplectic !

Gena Shapiro says:

Dave,

Thank you for your post – it’s the most sane one I seen here all day.

GS

Salomon Mizrahi says:

You americans think that all countries are a kind of Disneyland!
The israeli soldiers simply do their duties to protect the citizens of Israel… They are young and full of responsabilities!
Not as you, rich, spoiled!

Ariel. I’m tired too, I’m tired of your kind of hackneyed, insipid, abject ignorance and there exists no excuse for it – none. Tell your objections to a wall.

babawawa says:

Not only was there no mention of her experiences in Libya, but no mention that the soldiers who patted her down were women. I agree with the majority here – the journalist was wrong. And if anyone thinks putting a woman through an x-ray machine 3 times means no more foreign aid to Israel (and the implication that by taking the land by force means it wasn’t Jewish land) can go stick it where the sun don’t shine. I think it’s time to unsubscribe.

Ezequiel says:

For every Jew who despises Israel, there are ten Americans that support it.

For every US citizen who hates America, there are ten Israelis that love it.

Carrie says:

Absolutely no reason or excuse for a 7 months pregnant woman to enter a war zone. Absolutely 0.

Rita Krohn says:

It’s an absolute disgrace. I read this article in utter disbelief. It’s also a situation where everyone passes the buck. How dare they treat this journalist as a common criminal.Does anyone learn a lesson from this unjust act? I wonder.

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Israel’s Infuriating Treatment of Lynsey Addario

Soldiers’ harassment of photojournalist was stupid and just plain cruel

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