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Op-Ed: Who is Humiliating Whom?

Media outlets and human rights organizations have never objectively reported or protested the daily humiliation and harassment Israelis suffer because of Palestinian terrorism.
Published: Tuesday, August 24, 2004 11:12 PM


Palestinians say they 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. They say they feel "corralled" behind security fences and ugly concrete walls.

Palestinians take advantage of Israel's sensitivity to Arab female honor to mobilize women as living bombs. Such conduct includes using ambulances to move sick children hiding suicide belts and operatives disguised as paramedics or patients across checkpoints. Then they complain when "heartless" Israelis search ambulances and ordinary Palestinians.

Media outlets and human rights organizations have never objectively reported or protested the daily humiliation and harassment Israelis suffer because of Palestinian terrorism.

Israelis are searched countless times a day. Their bags and purses are always opened for inspection. They are subjected to body searches by metal detectors when entering banks or post offices, when picking up milk at the supermarket, going mall shopping, taking a plane or train, even visiting hospitals and medical clinics. Israelis are searched when they go to the local coffee shop or Pizza Hut, and when they go to the movies, the theater or a concert -- places where the phrase "Dressed to kill" takes on new meaning.

These ordinary, daily humiliations extend to searches at weddings and bar mitzvahs. No one at the UN talks about how humiliating it is to write at the bottom of the invitations to such events, "The site will be secured [by armed guards]" -- to ensure relatives and friends will attend and share in their joyous occasions in safety.

One out of four Israeli children ages 11-15 fear for their lives. One out of three reports they fear for the lives of their family members, and more than a third report they have changed their patterns of travel and social life due to security concerns.

The ubiquitous Israeli security checks do not exist in Arab cities and Arab towns in Israel -- or for that matter, in the West Bank and Gaza -- because those places are not targets of terrorism. In fact, the average Israeli is "humiliated and harassed" by checkpoints and searches many more times a day than is the average Palestinian. Yet, no human rights group or UN organ has so much as noted this massive intrusion into the rights of privacy and person imposed on Israelis.

The latest source of criticism is the security fence built as a protective barrier against Palestinian suicide bombers, yet the UN and the ICJ branded its construction a form of ghettoization and Israeli harassment.

No one has protested the fact that since the 1970s, Jewish schoolchildren in Israel have been surrounded by perimeter fences, with armed guards at the schoolyard gates -- as if their schools were the domiciles of Mafiosi.

Not one Arab village in Israel or the "Territories" has a perimeter fence around it. Guards are not required at Arab shops, cafes, restaurants, movie theaters, wedding halls or schools -- either in Israel or in the "Territories". Palestinians also do not need armed guards to accompany every school trip, youth movement hike or campout. Palestinians enter Jewish cities and go about their business without peril and wearing their traditional Arab headgear without fear of attack or harassment. They are not targets of coordinated terrorism.

Three years ago, Jewish urbanites in the Gilo neighborhood of Jerusalem were closed in by an ugly, high, concrete wall that blocked their view of the city, as well as the bullets from Palestinian terrorists in the Arab neighborhood of Beit Jallah.

Yet the General Assembly protests the inconvenience caused to Palestinians by the layout of the security fence, and has yet to recognize, in any way, that for years, an entire country has been and continues to be harassed and humiliated by "inconvenient" Palestinian terrorists.

The security barrier is, undeniably, a significant "inconvenience" to Palestinian terrorists who wish to infiltrate Israeli territory. It works and it saves Israeli (and Arab) lives.

Can the International Court of Justice calculate the "proportionality" of building a fence that saves lives to the "inconvenience" it causes Palestinians bent on terrorism and barbarism?

This begs the questions: Who are the victims and who are the victimizers? Who is being harassed and humiliated? Palestinians or Israelis?