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Addario’s Apology

Ignoring failings, like the Addario incident, only helps Israel’s enemies

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We’re not in the habit of stepping out against commenters—especially since we cherish these most active voices, and also because we know that they often don’t speak for everyone. But we couldn’t let go unchecked the ugly responses to Allison Hoffman’s post about photographer Lynsey Addario’s treatment at a Gaza checkpoint. Not only do we admire Addario and her work; we are reliant upon it, as fellow journalists—and more importantly, as citizens. The refusal to accept that an obvious tragedy took place here is unconscionable.

Heads-up, peacocking commenters: Addario, who is one of the most famous photojournalists on the planet, entered the checkpoint with her very hard-to-come-by press credentials on her, along with a quite substantial Google trail behind her—both of which, as any actually knowledgeable observer or user of checkpoints knows, quickly convinced those on duty that she wasn’t a terrorist. So, stop that rubbish; it only makes you look silly.

And “silly” isn’t bad as “retrograde misogynist,” which roughly describes the other category of negative reaction to this post: those who lambasted Addario for entering the checkpoint while pregnant. It’s a nifty defense mechanism—in Israel, bad things only happen to people who deserve them!—but it is poison. Jews, especially, should reject the notion that victims of violence somehow did something to have it coming, a false logic applied throughout history to rationalize our own persecution. And reveals nothing so much as the utterer’s utter ignorance. The belief that war reporters are simple adrenaline junkies is proof that you have never actually met one. Nor do you have any idea what they endure—or for whom. Addario and her colleagues risk their lives to bring us (that includes you) the information we need (you too) to make informed decisions about our (and your) world. That she does this while pregnant is an additional mark of bravery for which we should all be grateful. The refusal to see this, and to instead attack her, belies nothing more complicated than simple misogyny.

So, let’s call a spade a spade: A few young soldiers made a mistake and badly mistreated a paramount professional—one who risks her life so that all of us might have the information we need to make the decisions of civic life. Mistakes, even terrible mistakes, happen; when they do, though, what must follow is a robust and believable apology from the adults in the room.

Those of us who know and love Israel believe that Addario’s experience was an anomaly, and so are well within our right to wonder why this happened. The incident and the lack of proper apology is a black mark on Israel’s record of defending free press. At a time when those who want the end of Israel are finding any foothold, any convoluted excuse to chip away at the Jewish state’s legitimacy (I mean, pinkwashing?), is it wrong for us to want Israel not to make it easy for them?

Earlier: Israel’s Infuriating Treatment of Lynsey Addario

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Thank you, Alana. I made a jokey reply in the comments to Allison’s story, but I was quite distressed. I don’t want to think I write for an audience that is so full of hate, illogic and misogyny.

shavit says:

well said.

Alana, you are simply wrong. Neither of the articles nor Ms. Addarrio’s comments made any distinction with the truly apalling treatment she received in Libya. Nor is it misogynistic to wonder about the attitude of a woman who claims mistreatment after trolling around Gaza while 7 months pregnant. Nobody is that indispensable to truth and journalism–unless that have a certain overderdeveloped sense of self-worth. She seems hell-bent on equalizing Libya and Israel….more “medaiwashing”???

Lansing Reed says:

Oh please. “Hate, illogic and misogyny.” Wow. “Mysogny” is such a big word. No wonder you “journalists” are so special.

Let’s be clear here. No “journalist” whether for your holy NYT or otherwise, is entitled to special treatment at a checkpoint just because you think she is “famous.” The title of “journalist” conveys no special aura or privilege. Gaza is a war zone. The NYT is demonstrably and implacably hostile to Israel and the IDF. Pregnant women have been used by the Arabs to carry out attacks against Jews. For you to suggest that the IDF soldiers should have googled this woman or treated her differently than the TSA treats American citizens in airports suggests you have no clue – none at all – about how an army ought to work.

Go ahead. Reinforce your liberal cred by bashing Israel. But stop your sanctimonious (there – a big word, does that make me a “journalist” too? Where’s my special privilege card??) protestations of support for the Jewish state. Go to Gaza, provide aid and comfort to the Hamas barbarians (and I guarantee you none of that person’s “journalism” is at all critical of these murderous bastards) and bear the consequences.

The commentariat at Tablet – at least the portion that shows up to articles about Israel – has always been an embarrassment. It’s basically a glimpse into the Jewish right’s raving id.
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It would honestly be a relief if I could believe, as Alana does, that the response was driven only by misogyny. But even the misogyny is employed only in the service of an even darker impulse, which is simple, brute authoritarianism. In a dispute between Israel and anyone else, our communal authoritarians know that Israel is right before any investigation – and after any investigation, as well.
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In a dispute between an Israeli Jew and an Israeli Arab, of course the Jew is right. In a dispute between an Israeli Jew and an Israeli Jew in uniform, of course the soldier is right. How does the poem go, again?
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Likewise, I wish I could believe that these soldiers were simply caught in a miscommunication, as Alana seems to. But the truth is that the same authoritarian mindset is at work. A civilian and a non-Jew dares to question checkpoint soldiers, and so she is purposefully, even routinely humiliated – because she is not Israeli, not a Jew, not a soldier.
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Perhaps Tablet is already stretched to its breaking point by even daring to write what it does, when our communal mindset is so far gone. But pretending that the IDF is as morally unimpeachable today as it was in the 60s isn’t doing anyone any favors, least of all the IDF and the country it represents and defends.
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Refusing to waive a reporter through a checkpoint immediately due to miscommunication would be an ‘anomaly.’ Repeatedly x-raying and then strip searching a pregnant woman with clear journalism credentials is clearly much more. I would love to see Tablet ‘call a spade a spade,’ but it hasn’t happened yet.

The angle that you have not considered, it the possibility that this was a Skip Gates incident. You know, the Cambridge police got a call about a black man breaking-and-entering, so they checked it out. Professor Gates, breaking into his own house (he forgot his key or something) was indignant and came the great man, not only assuming the racism of the police, but showing them attitude: how dare they challenge the great Harvard professor! Cambridge is hardly a hotbed of racism, it, and its police department are off the scale in the political-correctness meter.

Now these Israeli soldiers may or may not be as well-trained as the Cambridge police. And I know nothing about Addario’s personality. But is it not at least possible that she showed a bit of attitude. How dare you frisk me, I have a Pulitzer prize. Most famous people are prone to that, particularly on a bad day (traveling while 7-month’s pregnant could make anyone tetchy.

Maybe she showed some attitude. And maybe the soldiers had a bad day too. Maybe they showed some attitude back. and the whole thing escalated.

It is, after all, how human beings behave. They (we) lose our cool.

I say we at least raise the possibility that everyone behaved badly.

Amen. These guys should be cashiered and prosecuted.

Lansing Reed says:

Clearly, no one on this board has ever served in the military. You all have no clue. “Max” says “Refusing to waive a reporter through a checkpoint immediately due to miscommunication would be an ‘anomaly.’” “Reporters” should get no special treatment, particularly not the hostile ones. If the soldiers at the checkpoint had waived this reporter through without a very thorough search, then they should have been cashiered.

Seriously, what is the matter with you people?

california jew says:

I’m a devoted Tablet reader who relies on your coverage of Israel and the Middle East. I don’t always agree with everything I read here (after all, there’s not a monolithic Tablet viewpoint) but something about its overall tone resonates with me. I guess I would describe it as sane, humane, non-hysterical, but always coming from a place of genuine concern about what’s “good for the Jews.”

And yet whenever I make the mistake of glancing at the comments on an Israel piece, I’m disgusted. I have to believe that Tablet attracts a large number of readers inclined to think as I do, but who rarely comment. For the sake of my mental health, I believe this! I virtually never comment here, but this seemed like a good time to finally pipe up on the behalf of what I dearly hope is the silent majority.

I see nothing about her asking for special treatment.
What I do see is her being given special treatment in the sense of a dangerously intrusive esamination.
Apparently a pregnant women is a special threat to the state of Israel.

Verificationist says:

Well said, Alana.

I can’t believe how much coverage this is getting. Though this incident should be condemned it is a minor one. She could have walked through the x-ray machine ten times and nothing would have happened to her fetus. Why doesn’t the holy NYT make noise about the fact that the country with the most reporters in jail is Turkey, or doesn’t the jibe with the party line? Israel can apologize 20 times but that won’t influence the NYT’s coverage at all.

@california jew – my sentiments exactly.

I was also bothered by those comments. Had me thinking about sexism today. It’s important that Tablet Magazine pushed back.

@california jew You’re not alone. Reasonable comments are there too. The people who come here solely to rant about the most evil Israel don’t help either.

ben Dish says:

News flash,
it’s a “war zone” . It’s all well when sitting in the USA. If you can’t take the heat, stay at home. The assertion that the photographer was never treated worse anywhere must be a lie. Running around seven months pregnant, you need to ask yourself if the professional ego was not greater than that of the need of the unborn child?! She could have been involved in a missile strike or what not. She is a war photographer, not a life style correspondent.

babawawa says:

What a pile of rubbish. Can’t take it when people don’t agree with you? Have to call them names and claim they hate women? How stupid. The photographer was sexually molested in Libya and she’s freaking out about walking through an x-ray machine like this experience was worse? Why, because men didn’t actually touch her this time? I agree with the other posters yesterday – she’s in it for the high she gets on danger. The author needs to grow up and start learning how to take it like an adult when people don’t agree with her.

Carrie says:

While I am disappointed that a pregnant woman was made to walk through an x-ray machine multiple times, I think she had an agenda to make a big deal out of this thing. I mean anyone with half a brain realizes that traveling in the middle east while 7 months pregnant is not exactly the safest and smartest thing to do. So she was not that concerned to begin with. I also know that flying on a plane involves a certain amount of radiation and I know she had to walk through the x-ray machine at the airport. Much ado about nothing.

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Addario’s Apology

Ignoring failings, like the Addario incident, only helps Israel’s enemies

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