Israel Drops Sex Harrassment Charge Against Palestinian Researcher Who Fought Back During Intrusive Security Check
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.
25 thoughts on “Israel Drops Sex Harrassment Charge Against Palestinian Researcher Who Fought Back During Intrusive Security Check – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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Good reaction of her. I wished to have seen the face of the guard. Probably we will see this kind of reactions more often also here in Europe, because we are considering to learn from Israel in terms of security checks!
Sorry for going off-topic but I thought that you should know about the recent “fake” controversy in Canada over Clarion Fund’s Iranium propaganda documentary. http://www.iranaffairs.com/iran_affairs/2011/01/iranium-clarion-funds.html
Although not related to the story someone posted this eye opener
Very, very helpful. Thanks. That graph says it all really.
what will happen in the US, if a traveler will not obey a TSA security guard instructions ?
i went through an airport recently, an my body parts were searched, personally i didn’t think it was a big deal though it sure wasn’t a pleasant experience. it is small price to pay for travelers safety.
And you were picked out as the only one because you’re a JEW, I guess !!
i am sorry that the entire Arab society has to pay the price for the acts of few, i really do.
but what would you suggest ? that Israel will lower its security safeguards ? Ben-Gurion Airport and Israeli originated flights has been the target of terror acts for few decades unfortunately those acts were committed mostly by Arabs but not only, Japanese and German were involved, so Israel developed a profile based on the person origin and his / her ethnicity, it works. there was no terror attack in Israel or against Israeli originated flights, for few decades. same treatment applies for other foreigners as well.
Ilan, as I pointed out in my comments on the blog entry about the Al-Jazeera journalist who was similarly humiliated, Palestinians were being subjected to these invasive searches long before the outbreak of terrorism. I linked to a video that documents this – ‘The Easiest Targets’, produced by ‘If Americans Knew’. I suggest you watch it:
1.) If this sort of behaviour predates terror attacks, then it’s not possible to justify the behaviour by saying it’s a response to those same attacks.
2.) In the case of genuine security checks, it is possible to conduct a search without humiliating and degrading a person. I’ve been searched at airports before. The personnel who searched me were quick and efficient. (Palestinians are often kept waiting for hours, with no guarantee of even making their flights.) They were friendly. (Palestinians are more likely to get insults than pleasantries.) I was given some privacy, with only women personnel allowed into the booth where I was being searched. (Palestinians are routinely searched in front of everyone, male and female.) The woman searching me apologised for any discomfort. In short, she treated me like a person. Obviously I didn’t like the situation, but I didn’t feel dehumanised by it. The same can’t be said for what Palestinians experience on a daily basis. Comparing the checks you get at an airport with the checks that a Palestinian is likely to get illustrates that you don’t have much idea of what is done to these people in the name of your government. Their experience is worlds apart from yours.
I’m not proposing anything. I’m merely pointing out that your experience has nothing to do with the case Richard mentioned. You were not “ethnically profiled”, were you ?
Who says that deliberately humiliating Arab women & men in security checks or checkpoints serves any real security function?? It’s a political power function designed to show Arab’s that Israel & its authorities are in charge and must be deferred to in everything. It’s a control mechanism. This is not security. In fact, it actually increases security risks because it radicalized the victims. Instead of treating them w. respect even when you do need to do a legitimate security check, you routinely treat them w. disrespect in almost EVERY interaction you have. How does this increase yr security?
Ben Gurion was last a target of a terror attack in 1973. That does not mean that it couldn’t be again. You DO need security. But you don’t need the procedures in place now to provide security as I wrote above.
Racial profiling doesn’t work. Israeli racial profiling was in place at Schilpol Airport (provided by a major Israeli security contractor) where the Nigerian bomber went through a security check w. a bomb in his possession. Didn’t work so well there.
Israel most definitely does NOT treat “other foreigners” as it treats Arab travellers (unless those foreigners have dark skin or appear Arab). You’re either ignorant (likely) or deliberately misstating the facts.
1. the reason the last attack in Ben-Gurion was carried in 1973 is the tight security being preformed there, racial profiling does work, and the proof is in the pudding.
i am not familiar with the incident at Schilpol Airport, I have no idea who the security guard was, how many hours of training he received etc. to conclude the racial profiling doesn’t work is not very serious when one doesn’t have the relevant information.
2. Just FYI, it’s not the Shabak who handles security at ben-gurion airport, its the airport authority personal.
3. since 1973 there were other attempt to carry terror attacks against Ben-Gurion Airport, and Israeli originated/bound flights. due to the tight security they either failed or contained extremely fast with minimal damage http://news.walla.co.il/?w=/1/249479
4. despite the complaints, a recent poll conducted by an American pollsters shows that most Arabs residing in east Jerusalem would prefer to be citizens of the state of Israel should a two state solution would be reached – http://pechterpolls.com/?p=399 –
that tells me that maybe they are not being treated as bad.
You’re blaming the individual screener & I’m blaming the Israeli system which the airport paid for & didn’t work. We don’t use racial profiling in our screening & since 9/11 we haven’t had a successful airline terror attack. So our system works at least as well as yours.
That’s not what I’ve heard. Who provides the names & information for travellers they wish to detain? Or no fly lists, etc.? Who decides which travellers will be detained & deported? Shabak.
Since 2001 there were other attempts to carry out terror attacks against U.S. aviation targets & due to tight security they failed. So again we’re even & we don’t have to degrade & humiliate our flying public as you do a portion of yours.
Stuff & nonsense. If I could offer U.S. citizenship to Israeli Jews what portion would provide the same answer? Does this mean that they think the U.S. is a better country than Israel? Or that it’s a more democratic country? Or has better values? Of course not. It’s almost purely an economic issue for East Jerusalem Palestinians. They don’t want to be Israeli citizens because they embrace Israel, think its values are sterling, admire its democracy, etc. Don’t kid yrself. Besides, Israel isn’t about to offer those Palestinians citizenship now, is it? Not now, & not ever if your current leaders have anything to do w. it.
On “The Pechter Polls”
I just love it when the Hasbara starts proposing polls to show this and show that. The Pechter poll was on every Zionist blog within an hour after it was published.
You better look into the background of Adam Pechter – and I’m not talking about ethnic profiling ! Pechter has been deeply involved with The Middle East Forum – a conservative think tank – and their magazine Middle East Quarterly. The MEF includes also Campus Watch and Islamist Watch. On their board we find ‘progressives’ such as Daniel Pipes, Efraim Karsh, Steven Rosen, and Martin Kramer is affiliated to the “think tank” too.
I’ve done a little bit of quantitative poll-studies in sociology courses, and if there is ONE thing that’s 100% sure about polls: you can make them say whatever you want.
You might as well ask Hamas to conduct the same poll.
OK, Ilan, I see.
In Israel, there’s quite a lot of traffic accidents. Now, if there’s a government ban on private automobile traffic (i.e., if only public transportation is allowed to operate), I think the number of traffic accidents will be reduced drastically. The citizens’ freedom of movement will be reduced to naught, of course, but isn’t this a small price to pay for saving hundreds of human lives per year?
Of course, I am sure you will find the above proposal ridiculous. Now, try to think why you find it that, but agree wholeheartedly with degrading treatment of Arab people in the Ben-Gurion airport in order to prevent a possible terrorist attack?
You tell the guard the following , loud enough so that everyone within 10 ft from you will hear:
“Stop touching my junk!!!!!!” and watch for the reaction- after all it is Freedom of Speech , right.
TSA security does not force women to remove their bras nor does it perform invasive searches of travellers’ private parts unless there is a very serious suspicion of a real threat. They would never do such a thing. And if they did they would very carefully & politely explain what they planned to do & why & ask permission first. I’ve seen this myself while flying even for less invasive searches.
I’m certain they didn’t ask you to remove your pants and underpants & feel your private parts. That’s in effect what they regularly do to women they suspect of being Arab.
Richard, as for you claims that TSA handles passengers with respect, please look at this:
and no they didn’t ask me to remove my pants, but they did feel me, and they had no reason to do so, just a routine check as i refused to go via the full body x-ray machine.
There are prob. 100 times the number of TSA screeners in the US as Israel. So will there be anecdotal stories about horrors at airports? Yes. But will there be a consistent pattern of abuse & degradation against a particular ethnic group as there clearly is in Israel? No. Because unlike Israel the security apparatus actually is supervised by civilian authority, answerable to it, & can be reined in if necessary.
You refused to go through the body scanner & didn’t like yr treatment. Arabs are treated that way even if they haven’t refused the body scanner. They’re treated that way because they’re Arabs, not because of what method of inspection they’ve chosen. Do you understand the diff.?
Of course i understand the diff, don’t be ridiculous.
but you do understand that the reason Arabs were being profiled is terror attacks committed by other Arabs right ?
Just FYI in 2010 11.5 million passengers traveled via Ben-Gurion , how many complaints were documented ?
considering the fact that 328,000 passengers traveled with Turkish Airlines, i do not think that the number of complaints is outrageous, but i may be wrong.
Here’s what I understand (& I’ve written this here already in past discussions about this very issue): there have been NO terror attacks at Ben Gurion ever perpetrated or planned by Israeli Arabs. And certainly none perpetrated by Al Jazeera correspondents or sociology lecturers with PhDs. So you’re racial profiling security system is a nuclear weapon when all you need is a scalpel. You need to detect terrorists, not Israeli Arabs.
How many complaints were documented? Do you think a humilitiated Israeli Arab is going to file a complaint when he knows that the entire system is designed to humiliate him or her? Why would he or she complain? All you need to do is read this blog & you’ll see all the publicized incidents of humiliation. You don’t understand. This isn’t a case of individual rogue acts embarrassing Arabs. This is a case of the system working exactly is its supposed to work, a system based on humiliation of an ethnic group.
1. Your argument that no Terror attack in ben-gurion was ever committed by an Israeli Arab is somewhat true and somewhat not true, why ? because though no Israeli arab was involved in the direct attack (at least not as far as we know) the planner of the attack carried in 1972 on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was Gorge Habash who was born in the city of Ramla (רמלה).
2. I understand the state of israel discriminate people of Arab decent, I really do. and i am sure you are not going to like what i would say, i just think it’s a necessary evil to provide safety for everyone. and with that respect, you have a reputation of a great blogger, not the one of a security officer, i don’t think you have the ability to professionally state what works or what doesn’t work security wise.
3. Meni Zahavi suggested that limitation would be imposed on transportation to reduce traffic accidents….there are such limitations in place. statistics showed the huge number of youngsters involve in accidents, so the state of israel imposed restrictions on all young drivers, is it discriminating ? yes. is it racist ? no. is there a reason for such limitations ? yes. same with security checks at ben-gurion.
4. Shabac provides guidelines but Israeli Airport Authority provides the personal. all the Supreme Court cases that were filled in the last 10 years were filled against the Airport Authority and not the Shabak.
5. Israel will soon implement full body X-ray machines. Just like in the US, people would have a choice either go via the machine, or be checked manually. I’m sure that though it works fine in the US people will complain that going via the machine is humiliating.
And just to clarify i was talking specifically about discriminating Travelers of Arab decent. I am against discrimination of any type, but under special circumstances are willing to accept its existence. the 28 people who died in the attack carried on May 30 1972, the 78 people who were injured during that attack, The Israelis who were kidnapped to Entebbe and other victims of terror attack directed at Israeli / Jewish travelers (was demonstrated in Entebbe that jews were the targets too) are making such an exception.
What about tippling, or quadrupling, or whatever necessary, the Israeli airport security’s budget, hiring many many more security personnel (at least 20% of them Israeli-Palestinians), informing all airport passengers that in order to make it to their flights they should be at the airport at least 6 hours prior to departure, and treating everyone exactly the same – going through the harshest security measures?
As I mentioned above the EU and Germany are considering the type of security checks Israel is carrying out since years.
A couple of years ago, armed israeli security personal has been caught intimidating and interrogating passengers outside the security area and therefore ilegally in the Berlin-Tegel airport. I think, the success of the israeli security measures do depend on a bundle of things not only on the profiling of the passengers. In Germany one have to show up for check-in for flights to Israel more than three hours before the estimated time of departure. There an controlled security spaces on both ends of the flight. Planes were boarded, far away from the terminals, guarded by light tanks with ,50 caliber machine guns. This “security-hardware” is at least as important than the profiling of the passengers, I think?
[racism is not acceptable in these comment threads]