Only in Israel can they make a mockery of national security. Well, perhaps I should say only in Israel do they make a mockery of national security so well. I suppose the Bush-Cheney regime did a pretty good job of it. But never in quite as ludicrous a way as this story.
Lily Sussman is a young woman who is part-Jewish and traveling through the Middle East. As such, she poses an extreme danger to Israel. No, she’s not a terrorist. Since she’s non-violent she doesn’t carry weapons either. But she did have a laptop with her when she attempted to enter Israel from Egypt recently. And we all know that laptops in the hands of the wrong people (like peace activists) can be lethal weapons. God only knows what was on her machine. Perhaps an essay about non-violence and ways to aid Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation. Perhaps, even (God forbid) a statement that endorsed Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) or the Goldstone Report. You just never know where the next existential threat to Israel is going to crop up. So I say bravo to the Israeli border police. Just doing their job to protect Israel from the dangerous ideas and maladies imported from dark dank places like Egypt or Spain or the U.S. or South Africa or God knows where.
At any rate, Lily’s laptop suffered an ignominious fate. It was blasted to smithereens by three bullets. What were they afraid of? Did they think it was a dirty bomb? Did they think she was carrying an Al Qaeda manual? Just as the U.S. did to Vietnamese villages during the war, it looks like the police had to destroy Lily’s laptop to save it.
Here is her best guess as to what caused the Israelis’ suspicions to be aroused. You can be the judge of what possible ideas can be rattling around in the alleged minds of these Israeli security “experts:”
Security had never asked for my password. Was it my peeling Arabic stickers on the keyboard? Or something else during the questioning which set them off?
Toward the beginning of the search an officer began clicking through the photos on my camera. She froze on a picture of graffiti, which read “Fuck” scrawled next to the Jewish star of David. “Why do you have this picture?” She asked me rather aggressively. “Because I was disturbed by it too,” I answered. She didn’t press the subject but continued clicking…presumably looking at pictures from a photo exhibit about Israel’s January attack of Gaza.
Though I usually delete all my pictures when uploading, unluckily I had clicked save rather than delete when uploading this set and never got around to manually deleting on my camera. Whoops…
Among other suspicious item; an Arabic phrasebook, a journal entry that mentioned a Palestinian (yes, they even flipped through my journal), stamps from Syria, Qatar and the UAE, Palestinians in Palestine guidebook, and a map a friend had drawn with a main street in Jerusalem, the central bus station and my intended hostel…
All I can say is Lily, welcome to the world of national security run amok. And lest anyone argue this is an isolated incident, one of the sub-genres of this blog is documenting outrages perpetrated by Israeli security personnel at airports and border crossings. We have the incident in South Africa of a security agent demanding to question a South African citizen who wasn’t even boarding an El Al flight. This incident caused South Africa to threaten to cancel all El Al’s flights there. And the incident of the award-winning Palestinian filmmaker whose statuette was confiscated by security agents before she boarded a flight back to Israel. I suppose they thought she might use the award to bash the head of the pilot or perhaps drop it in the air over Tel Aviv as the plane landed thus becoming the first terrorist to assault Israel in such a way.
I’m always delighted at the varied ways in which Israeli authorities attempt to deflect criticism of such activity. In this case, the spokesperson wasn’t even trying:
The Israel Airports Authority said in response that, “A [security] check performed on the lady’s luggage signalled the need for security personnel to follow procedure. The police who carried out the operation in question were called to the scene. We suggest you approach the Israel Police for any additional information.”
Were Lily traveling with a group of supporters of the Hebron Fund or Chabad or Ateret Cohanim or Aipac what would be the chances she and her laptop would’ve suffered such a fate?