After Lynsey Addario, a Pulitzer Prize-winning war photographer working for the New York Times, was forced by Israeli soldiers to pass through an X-ray machine three times in spite of her protests that it might harm her unborn child, Jerusalem bureau chief Ethan Bronner expresses shock:
The Times remains shocked at the treatment Lynsey Addario received and shocked at how long the investigation has taken since our complaint was lodged a month ago. The careless and mocking way in which she was handled should not be considered accepted security procedure.
What Bronner and everyone else knows is that there is nothing shocking about the brutal treatment Addario received — unless the shock is not at the treatment itself but the fact that it was dished out to a New York Times journalist. But Bronner makes it clear that that is not what he means. He goes on to say: “We welcome the announcement by the Defense Ministry of plans to hone that procedure.”
This is how the Times reported what happened:
In a letter to the Israeli ministry last month, Ms. Addario wrote that soldiers at the Erez Crossing in northern Gaza had treated her with “blatant cruelty” when she arrived there on Oct. 24 and asked not to have to pass through the X-ray machine. Because she was seven months pregnant at the time, she had been advised by her obstetrician to avoid exposure to radiation.
Ms. Addario had phoned an official at the border crossing in advance to make her request and had been assured that there would be no problem. When she arrived at checkpoint, however, she was told that if she did not pass through the X-ray machine, she would have to remove all of her clothes down to her underwear for a search. To “avoid the humiliation,” Ms. Addario decided to pass through the X-ray machine.
“As I passed through,” she wrote, “a handful of soldiers watched from the glass above the machine smiling triumphantly. They proceeded to say there was a ‘problem’ with the initial scan, and made me pass through two additional times as they watched and laughed from above. I expressed each time that I was concerned with the effect the radiation would have on my pregnancy.”
After three passes through the X-ray, I was then brought into a room where a woman proceeded to ask me to take off my pants. She lifted up my shirt to expose my entire body while I stood in my underwear. I asked if this was necessary after the three machine checks, and she told me it was “procedure” — which I am quite sure it is not. They were unprofessional for soldiers from any nation.
In an e-mail to The Times on Monday, the Defense Ministry wrote that, after “a deep and serious investigation into the matter of Ms. Addario’s security check last month,” it had concluded that her request to avoid the machine had not been passed on to the security officials at the checkpoint because of “faulty coordination between the parties involved.”
So it was a bureaucratic mix-up. It was a “mishap in coordination,” the ministry says and now it has “sharpened” its inspection procedures. And at the same time, a vacuous apology was offered, the Jerusalem Post reports:
“The Defense Ministry employs strict security measures in order to prevent attacks by terrorist groups. We expect people to understand this. Nevertheless, we have apologized to the New York Times and the photographer,” the statement read.
But maybe the apology should not have come from the Israeli Defense Ministry and instead should be made by the New York Times to its readers.
Why go in search of a worthless apology instead of using the incident as an opportunity to provide a graphic, first-hand report on the way Israeli soldiers abuse the civilians under their control? The Times reporters seem to have been busier writing letters to Israeli officials than doing their own jobs: reporting.