Israel — still an embarrassment to its friends

Joe Klein writes: My friend and colleague, the great war photographer Lynsey Addario, has been through a lot this year — kidnapped by the Libyans, difficult assignments in Afghanistan, Somalia and Gaza, and a much less taxing three weeks hanging with me on my annual road trip, all while pregnant… and now she has been utterly humiliated at a checkpoint by the Israeli army while on assignment for the New York Times.

Lynsey asked not to pass through the x-ray machine at the border, since she is nearly 8 months pregnant — and obviously so — but she was forced to pass through the machine 3 times while being verbally abused and then strip-searched for good measure.

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.

There’s something not quite right about Klein’s phrasing: “Israel has been brutalized by its occupation of Arab territories since 1967.”

Israel, the eternal victim, is now the victim of its own behavior.

I doubt that this was Klein’s intention. To be more blunt and precise he should have said, Israel has brutalized itself by its occupation of Arab territories since 1967.

What Klein and Israel’s other friends still refuse to acknowledge is that this institutional brutality did not begin in 1967 but was already fully evident in 1948. The ethnic cleansing of Palestine was no accident.

Meanwhile, the New York Times itself apparently regards Addario’s treatment by Israeli soldiers as an issue more appropriately dealt with through written correspondence with Israeli officials than by giving it the weight of a front page news item (or even any page in print), nor deeming it worthy of editorial comment. (This has been its only coverage so far.)

Is this out of deference to the Palestinians? An implicit acknowledgment that the occasional affronts that foreign journalists suffer at the hands of Israelis are everyday occurrences for the population that for 44 years has lived under Israeli military rule?

Unlikely. Much more likely is that the New York Times wants to minimize the embarrassment of its friends and staff reporters in Israel.

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4 thoughts on “Israel — still an embarrassment to its friends

  1. rosemerry

    I don’t know what happened then! Keep up the good work- it is really appreciated.
    As for Lkein’s comments- I really cannot understand how people can keep saying how wonderful Israel is and how much it deserves its place, regardless of its actions. I suppose it is like the USA, which GHWBush said he would never apologise for. I live in France, which is good in many ways, but I would not pretend it is always right, especially now under Sarkozy.

  2. Norman

    With friends like that, who needs enemy’s? We can say all we want about how this all plays out, but why so called sane people want to follow madmen to hell, is beyond me.

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