Op-Ed: Bob Simon, Nothing New Under the Sun
Eli E. HertzEli E. Hertz is the president of Myths and Facts, an organization devoted to research and publication of information regarding US interests in the world and particularly in the Middle East. Mr. Hertz served as Chairman of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting.
On January 25, 2009 Bob Simon had this to say:
"Palestinians ... when they want to travel from one town to another, they have to submit to humiliating delays at checkpoints and roadblocks. There are more than 600 of them on the West Bank."
On April 22, 2012 he had this to say:
"For all Palestinians, just leaving Bethlehem is a struggle. Getting to Jerusalem, only seven miles away, whether it's to pray, go to a doctor, visit family members, or work, means going through this Israeli checkpoint. That can take hours but before Palestinians can get even this far, they need a permit from the Israelis which can take weeks or months to obtain and is frequently denied."
Let's get this story straight. I wrote about this in 2009, but I have revised it today:
Bob, you say Palestinian Arabs feel humiliated and harassed when Israeli authorities search them and their belongings; when they are prevented from traveling freely because of checkpoints, roadblocks, closures and curfews. You say they feel "corralled."
Bob, in Israel, every Jewish and Arab Israeli is searched numerous times during the course of a single day. Israelis are asked to open their bags and purses for inspection.
In most cases, they are subjected to body searches with a metal detector every time they enter a bank or a post office, pick up a bottle of milk at the supermarket, enter a mall or train station, or visit a hospital or medical clinic. Young Israeli Jewish men and women are physically frisked in search of suicide belts before they enter crowded nightclubs.
As a matter of routine, Israelis' car trunks are searched every time they enter a well-trafficked parking lot or mall.
Daily, their cars pass through roadblocks that cause massive traffic jams that are even worse when security forces are in hot pursuit of suicide bombers believed to have entered Israel.
Israelis are searched not only when they go out for a cup of coffee or a slice of pizza, but also when they go to the movies or a concert, where the term "dressed to kill" has an entirely different meaning.
These ordinary daily humiliations now extend to similar searches when Israelis go to weddings or Bar Mitzvahs. No one abroad talks about the humiliation Jews in Israel are subjected to, having to write at the bottom of wedding invitations and other life cycle events, "The site will be secured [by armed guards]" - to ensure relatives and friends will attend and share their joyous occasion - and how they have to pay for them.
Bob, these ubiquitous security checks do not exist in Arab cities and towns in pre-1967 Israel (or, for that matter, in Arab towns in Judea and Samaria) because those places are not and never have been targets of Palestinian Arab terrorism.
In fact, the average Israeli is "humiliated and harassed" by being searched far more times a day than the average Palestinian Arab. Not one human rights group, nor you, has so much as noted this massive intrusion into the rights of privacy and person imposed on Israelis.
To date, no one protests the fact that, since the 1970s, Jewish schoolchildren in Israel are surrounded by perimeter fences, with armed guards at the schoolyard gates.
Not one Arab village has a perimeter fence around it. Guards are not required at Arab shops, cafes, restaurants, movie theaters, wedding halls or schools - not in the north, the south, not in Judea and Samaria.
Palestinian Arabs also do not need armed guards to accompany every school trip, youth movement hike or campout. They are not targets of terrorism.
Countless Israelis in sensitive areas within the pre-1967 borders, not just in Judea and Samaria, but in all Jewish towns, villages and bedroom suburbs - are "ghettoized" behind high fences.
Many Israeli motorists avoid major arteries that pass through Arab areas of Israel, while Israeli Arabs and Palestinian Arabs continue to enter Jewish cities and go about their business without peril.
Israelis are told, in effect, to disguise themselves when traveling abroad - not to speak Hebrew in public and not to wear garments that reveal their Jewish-Israeli origins.
Even Israel's national airline - El Al - has been forced to remove its logo from the tails of its aircraft at certain airports, out of concern for the safety of its passengers.
On the other hand, Arabs who frequent Jewish cities and towns in Israel wear their traditional Arab headgear without fear of being attacked or harassed.
Bob, all of this begs the question: Who is humiliating whom?