WHO IS HUMILIATING WHOM?
by Eli E. Hertz
The average Israeli is "humiliated and harassed" by being searched far more times a day than the average Palestinian.
Palestinians say they feel humiliated and harassed when Israeli authorities search them and their belongings; when they are prevented from traveling freely because of checkpoints, roadblocks, closures and curfews. They say they feel "corralled" behind security fences and ugly concrete walls.
Israel is criticized for these measures even by those who understand the causal relationship that makes such security steps necessary. The cynical use of the movement of innocent Palestinians, including people in need of urgent medical treatment(1) and Palestinian day laborers crossing to work in Israel is used as a convenient cover for the perpetration of terrorist acts.
Palestinians take advantage of Israel's sensitivity to Arab female honor to mobilize women as live bombs. The two latest -- a 40-year-old mother of seven who carried a suicide belt across army checkpoints; and the second, Reem Salah Riashi, 21, a mother of two young children who dreamed of "becoming a martyr" since she was 13.
Riashi, approaching a checkpoint, claimed a medical disability; she said she had a metal pin in her leg and was escorted to an examination room to be checked by a female security officer. She then blew herself up, murdering four Israelis and wounding 12. As a result, Palestinian women and patients who appear to be in obvious pain will no longer be exempt from thorough physical scrutiny, to ensure that they, too, are not human bombs. This increased hardship for innocent Palestinians has been caused by their own leadership, which cynically continues to claim that the Israelis humiliate their citizens.
Strangely, no media outlets and not a single human rights organization has fully and objectively reported or protested the daily humiliation and harassment Israelis suffer because of the Palestinian Authority's 'factory of terror.'
In Israel, every Israeli is searched numerous times during the course of a day. Israelis are asked to open their bags and purses for inspection. In most cases, they are subjected to body searches with a metal detector every time they enter a bank or a post office, pick up a bottle of milk at the supermarket, enter a mall or train station, or visit a hospital or medical clinic. Young Israeli men and women are physically frisked in search of suicide belts before they enter crowded nightclubs.
As a matter of routine, Israelis' car trunks are searched every time they enter a well-trafficked parking lot. Daily, their cars pass through roadblocks that cause massive traffic jams when security forces are in hot pursuit of suicide bombers believed to have entered Israel. Far from a rare occasion, in the two and a half months of relative quiet between the October 4, 2003 bombing of the Maxsim Restaurant, a popular Christian-Jewish-owned eatery in Haifa (which left 22 dead and more than a 100 injured) and Christmas, a Christian day of peace, 24 suicide bombers headed for Israel proper and another 15 with West Bank targets were apprehended before they could reach their destinations.
Israelis are searched not only when they go out for a cup of coffee at the local Starbucks or Pizza Hut, but also when they go to the movies or the theater or a concert, where the term "dressed to kill" has an entirely different meaning.
These ordinary daily humiliations now extend to similar searches when Israelis go to weddings or bar mitzvahs. No one abroad talks about the humiliation Jews in Israel are subjected to, having to write at the bottom of wedding invitations and other life cycle events, "The site will be secured [by armed guards]" -- to ensure relatives and friends will attend and share their joyous occasion.
One out of four Israeli children, ages 11 to 15, fear for their lives. One out of three report they fear for the lives of their family members, and more than a third report they have changed their patterns of travel and social lives due to security concerns. (2)
These ubiquitous security checks do not exist in Arab cities and towns in Israel (or, for that matter, in the West Bank and Gaza) because those places are not and never have been targets of Palestinian terrorism. In fact, the average Israeli is "humiliated and harassed" by being searched far more times a day than the average Palestinian. Not one human rights group has so much as noted this massive intrusion into the rights of privacy and person imposed on Israelis.
The latest source of criticism is the security fence -- designed to serve as a barrier against Palestinian suicide bombers, a measure critics brand as a form of ghettoization and another form of Israeli harassment.
To date, no one protests the fact that, since the 1970s, Jewish schoolchildren in Israel are surrounded by perimeter fences, with armed guards at the schoolyard gates, as if their schools were the domiciles of Mafiosi. Not one Arab village in Israel or the Territories has a perimeter fence around it. Guards are not required at Arabic shops, cafes, restaurants, movie theaters, wedding halls or schools -- either in Israel or in the Territories. Palestinians also do not need armed guards to accompany every school trip, youth movement hike or campout. They are not targets of terrorism.
Arab children have never been willfully attacked by Jews, while Arabs have purposefully murdered Jewish youngsters at boarding schools, junior high school students on overnight trips and teens on a nature hike. Arab Palestinians attacked Jewish school buses carrying elementary school children (twice), murdered two children playing in a cave near their homes, killed a toddler in a nursery and murdered small children hiding under their beds -- all in addition to wave after wave of suicide bombings.
Countless Israelis in sensitive areas within the Green Line -- not only in the Territories, but also in Jewish towns, villages and bedroom suburbs -- are "ghettoized" behind high fences. Three years ago, Jewish urbanites in the Gilo neighborhood of Jerusalem were closed in by an ugly high concrete wall that blocked their view of the city and the bullets of Palestinian gunmen from the Arab neighborhood of Beit Jallah.
While the General Assembly protests the inconvenience Palestinians suffer because of the layout of the security fence, not one UN organ has protested the fact that, for years, an entire country has been harassed and humiliated. Israelis traveling north from Jerusalem to the Beit She'an Valley, or south from Jerusalem to Beersheba, have been forced to make a 60 to 90-minute detour to avoid traveling across the West Bank and the Jordan Valley, where drive-by shootings by Palestinian snipers and other attacks on civilian traffic threaten their lives.
Motorists traveling between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv on Route 443 are forced to negotiate a lengthy trough-like gauntlet that runs between two high concrete walls that protect them from Palestinian sniper fire. Yet there have been no UN protests against these walls -- only against the 'ugly' wall that prevents terrorists from the Palestinian town of Qalqiliya, (3) from attacking cars "inside Israel" on a major cross-country toll road, and against a number of other short sections, where the security barrier is concrete, not fencing.
Israelis' freedom of movement is compromised daily as countless citizens seek to avoid crowded areas or events, change their daily routines by sticking to side streets, avoid traveling close to public buses, or simply stay out of the heart of their own capital entirely. Most school trips have been cancelled or curtailed during the past three years.
Many Israeli motorists avoid major arteries that pass through Arab areas of Israel, while Arab citizens and Palestinians from the Territories continue to enter Jewish cities and go about their business without peril. Israelis are told, in effect, to disguise themselves when traveling abroad - not to speak Hebrew in public and not to wear garments that reveal their Jewish/Israeli origins. Even Israel's national airline -- El Al -- has been forced to remove its logo from the tails of its aircraft at certain airports, out of concern for the safety of its passengers. This followed several attempts to down Israeli civilian aircraft with missiles. On the other hand, Arabs who frequent Jewish cities and towns in Israel wear their traditional Arab headgear without fear of being attacked or harassed.
An article in Forbes, "Cold Calculation of Terror," estimates Israeli economic losses due to continuous terrorism is 3 percent of the $110 billion gross domestic product. Tourism alone fell 50 percent and lost $2 billion [yearly].
As of this writing, "Interrogation of terrorists belonging to various organizations in Samaria has indicated that the security barrier does indeed present a significant obstacle to terrorists wishing to infiltrate into Israeli territory." (4) The security fence, in areas where already constructed, is remarkably effective and saves lives.
Can the UN General Assembly calculate the 'proportionality' of building a fence that saves lives to Palestinian terrorism and barbarism?
All this begs the question: Who are the victims and who are the victimizers? Who are the ones being harassed and humiliated? Palestinians or Israelis?
(1) Such dastardly conduct extends to hiding suicide belts under sick children in ambulances, using ambulances to move operatives in and out of closed areas disguised as paramedics or patients in need of immediate care - then complaining that heartless Israelis stop ambulances.
(2) "Survey: 1 in 4 teens live in fear of terror," Jerusalem Post, June 3, 2004. See http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1086230744079
(3) What the Secretary-General report does not disclose is the fact that Qalqiliya was and is a home to Palestinian terrorists who produced so far five terror attacks on civilian targets within Israel, contributing to the death of 28 innocent civilians and many more injuries. The last non-lethal incident took place on August 31, 2003, when an Israeli Arab construction worker was moderately wounded in a shooting attack. See http://www.ict.org.il/arab_isr/mideast_attacksearch_frame.htm .
(4) Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies (C.S.S) at http://www.intelligence.org.il/