Friday, April 11, 2008

11-Apr-08: Putting unpleasantness in perspective

The unpleasantness and inconvenience that accompanies security checks at airports, shopping mall entrances, restaurants and buses in this country and elsewhere happens against a certain background that is often forgotten or unknown.
Five Hours at Tel Aviv Airport: It's 4 a.m. at Tel Aviv Airport and this is the third time I've been questioned so far. My passport has stamps from various Arab countries: Dubai, Yemen and archenemy Syria. Finally I get my passport back and am allowed to enter. I save my complaint for the government press office in Jerusalem, where I go to pick up my press card the next day. "Security measures," is the explanation I get from the press officer, a tired looking woman by the name of Pnina Aizenman. "What do you think it's like for us, waking up each morning and never knowing what the day will bring?" she says, clearly referring to Palestinian suicide attacks on Israeli civilians. While Pnina's busy getting my press card ready, I take a look at the photos of children and a newspaper article on the wall behind me. The article is about a woman who lost her mother and er five-year-old child in a Palestinian suicide bombing. The name of the woman is Pnina Aizenman. I get the shivers. "That's you," I stammer. "Yes. Do you understand now what I mean by security measures?" she replies. I suddenly feel ashamed that I've just been complaining about being kept waiting for five hours when this woman's life has been totally wrecked by a bomb. (Radio Netherlands)
Pnina Eisenman's mother Noa Alon and her five year old daughter Gal were murdered in the bombing of a Jerusalem bus stop at the French Hill Junction a few minutes drive from our home in 2002. Her tragedy is recounted in an online video here.

In 1972, three Japanese terrorists attacked the airport we now call Ben Gurion. Wikipedia says that "Because airport security was focused on the possibility of a Palestinian attack, the use of Japanese terrorists took the guards by surprise, and their commitment to a suicide mission simplified the planning. Kozo Okamoto, Tsuyoshi Okudaira, and Yasuyuki Yasuda had been trained in Baalbek, Lebanon." No further terror attacks against any Israeli airport have succeeded since then.


Anonymous said...

The "unpleasantness" is a symptom of man's violent inhumanity toward others. When we stop reacting to violence with more violence, we'll free ourselves. When we respond with compassion for ourselves in our fear, we will be able to have compassion for others. When we stop pretending it is the fault of someone else - especially faceless groups of people like "jihadists", "Israelis", "Arabs", "Iraqis", "Chinese", "Tibetans", "Americans", "Somalis" - and realize it is our responsibility to end it with compassion, justice, and generosity we may make progress. It is my responsibility to do what I can. It is your responsibility to do what you can. Are we being responsible or just whining?

The-View-From-Ramot said...

We're assuming your comment is based on a careful reading of the header of this blog entry, and on completely ignoring the content of the blog entry itself.

For the record, the jihadists are not faceless. They have names and lives. They have actions and histories.

Wrapping this ongoing war up in a neat two-sides-of-the-coin analysis, as your contribution implies, is repugnant to people like us who aspire to peaceful relations with the people on the other side.

Can we interest you in making a modest contribution to the Malki Foundation ( That - as opposed to the cheap rhetoric of 'stop pretending it is the fault of someone else' - would be a convincing manifestation of compassion and responsibility.