Monday, December 05, 2005

Before You Feel Too Sorry For Him... 

This Reuters photo shown on Yahoo News Photos is excellently framed to illustrate an Israeli soldier's humiliating treatment of a middle aged Palestinian man, the power imbalance of occupation cruelly flaunted in the presence of, presumably, the man's wife and small child:

An Israeli soldier (L) inspects a Palestinian man at a checkpoint in the West Bank city of Hebron on December 4, 2005. REUTERS/Nayef Hashlamoun

While you can never be too sure about these things, awards season is approaching, and I think there's a fair chance this photo could get Mr. Hashlamoun "Reuters Photographer of the Month" honors for exposing this mistreatment. After all, what could possibly justify the soldier having to check, even under the jacket, this obviously harmless older gentleman? And to do this in front of his family, to so blatantly rub his face in the fact that he has to submit to these checks just to go about his daily life!

You might think I'm just an oppressing Zionist with no empathy or sympathy. But believe me, I think I -- and indeed most Israelis -- can understand a little bit of the Palestinian's position, and then some. We go through the same checks countless times in our daily lives as well, just to get into the supermarket, the library, the swimming pool or our kids' schools. Nor do our spouses and kids just stand by watching the checks, they get checked too. And once we pass the security check we don't breathe a sigh of relief and hope the next guy gets off easier. No, we pray the security guard is as inconveniently intrusive with everyone else who follows, if not more so.

Wherever you live these days, you too may be noticing an increase in security as you come and go in the public square. You may feel a sense of annoyance at the delay or inconvenience. But there are no Reuters photographers on hand to document your sense of shame or humiliation, nor mine. They probably realize there is no great melodrama to milk from our daily security interactions. They probably realize there is no agenda to push in our frequent bag checks and pocket pullouts, except staying safe.

So when they try to frame an agenda, to create a juicy impression of oppression and then squeeze it for all it's worth, they are forgetting that most of us readers know full well what a little security feels like. And that to anyone who finds they must submit to a security check, whether recorded only by airport surveillance cameras or a high powered Reuters photographer in a West Bank town, most of would only say, "Get over it."

If you really, really liked this -- or even really, really hated it -- there's lots more: