Lynsey Addario and A Strip Search’s Fallout

Try to imagine the scene: An eight-month pregnant woman is made to go through X-ray machine three times, to the amusement of security personnel.

Then she’s told she has to undergo a strip-search anyway.

New York Times photographer Lynsey Addario was working on assignment and returning to Israel from Gaza. She had her Government Press Office credentials. She called Erez crossing officials ahead of time, letting them know she was on the way. Addario also requested that she not have to go through the X-ray machine, to avoid potential harm to the baby.

Having already been abducted in Libya earlier this year, Addario went by the book.

You can hardly blame her for this tweet:

Would it surprise you to learn that Addario’s taken to retweeting Mona Eltahaway, who was sexually assaulted by Egyptian security personnel?

I’m going to pre-empt comments like “What’s a pregnant woman doing in Gaza like that?” or “The TSA’s worse.” Irrelevant.

I also object to comments I’ve seen elsewhere suggesting that Addario’s experience is mitigated by the fact that female suicide bombers have targeted Erez in the past. That only explains the need for security procedures. It doesn’t mitigate soldiers gawking at a pregnant woman going through an X-ray machine three times, and then a strip search.

She didn’t act suspiciously. Israeli media credentials already require a security check anyway, and there were no specific terror alerts regarding pregnant press photographers.

And the army already apologized.

This year, Israeli security have strip searched an Al-Jazeera camerman, AFP’s Sara Hussein, Al-Jazeera’s Simri Diab and CNN’s Kevin Flower.

There hasn’t been any real blowback from the Foreign Press Association other than some angry press releases, but sooner or later, something’s got to give.

So in the meantime, is it any wonder that “Israeli Thuggery” is the unfortunate conclusion Addario’s friends and colleagues, like Joe Klein are drawing?

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.


Comments are closed.