18 months ago, Palestinian academic lecturer, Dr. Honida Gaanam, was trying to fly to France for an academic conference. Her problem is that she was flying while Arab. The Ben Gurion airport security guard began to search Ganaam’s bra invasively and the victim fought back by grabbing the guard’s bra and asking her whether she liked how it felt. For this, the professor was charged with sexual assault (I kid you not).
Gaanam got herself a good lawyer from the Israeli Palestinian NGO Adallah and fought back. The attorney argued that she suffered this degrading security check for one reason only, she is Arab. She and her lawyer told the government’s legal advisor that during her security check the contact became so degrading that it felt like a sexual attack on her and she could not suffer it in silence. The academic later told security officials of her wish to file a complaint of sexual harrassment against the guard, but was told that the charge would be filed against her instead.
Though the government dismissed the criminal charges against her, it warned Ganaam that if she committed any illegal acts within a specified period it would renew these charges against her.
Authorities at Ben Gurion airport castigated Gaanam saying that she had ulterior motives in criticizing what is a necessary security procedure to ensure the safety of millions of air passengers. Given the identical demeaning treatment meted out to Al Jazeera’s Israel correspondent last week during a security check before a foreign correspondents dinner with the prime minister, it would appear that the Shabak is training its female security personnel to deliberately degrade Palestinian women. I suppose the IDF is doing such a good job of humiliating Palestinian men at checkpoints that the Shabak doesn’t want to be left too far behind in its treatment of women.