Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Legitimacy for discriminatory security

On Christmas day, a man by the name of Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, attempted to detonate plastic explosives he smuggled onto his flight headed towards Detroit from Amsterdam. Although, the heroic acts of the passengers prevented the terrorist attack, the situation immediately brought us back to the days of 9/11; specifically, questions about airport security and terrorism. This flight was lucky, but the next flight could have disastrous consequences if the passengers hadn't been both brave and lucky to have caught the situation. Which brings us to the aftermath of the situation: new airport security. The United States has announced that people from the following countries; Cuba, Iran, Sudan, Afghanistan, Algeria, Lebanon, Libya, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen — will face special scrutiny and extra security checks at the airport when flying to the US, or through a US airline. Following this announcement, the world has cried out against these new measures: where is the fairness?, the democracy? and human rights? The other day, the New York Times reported one man's sad story, of how he lived his entire life in Britain, but because of his original nationality, Nigerian, he was (in his opinion) unfairly searched at the airport. His search reflects the discrimination he was subjected to, only because of his of national origin. Airport security tell people that the public will be served and treated in a fair, lawful, and nondiscriminatory manner, without regard to … national origin. So bascially, you’re not going to be subject to discriminatory screening based on national origin, unless you happen to be from one of 14 specific countries and then you will. Glad that they’ve cleared up that confusion. So in return to this discriminatory policy, the world objects ;how far is the US willing to go in order to "secure" their population? Discrimination and unlawfulness??

So now, I ask, what is the familiar story line I'm reading?????oh yeah.... Israel. Examples are constantly popping into my mind, on how the media blasts Israel for how far it's willing to go in order to secure it's population. Just last week, the Supreme Court of Israel announced that it will begin allowing Palestinians to drive on route 433 again. WAIT- yes, this is true, there are roads that Palestinians are not allowed to drive on, and of course this is one prime examples for Israel's enemies to cry out: apartheid! But... really... if we truly logically think of these actions, and not in a a way that looks to explicitly discriminate Israel but to look at the situation with fresh eyes, we begin to actually see, that perhaps: yes this is an "apartheid-like" action. I really hate to use this word, I prefer to use discriminatory, but I can understand where the term is from. Although the reason that Palestinians are not allowed to drive on this road, is explained through legitimate security concerns, the situation begs, is there really any legitimate security concerns that allow for a people to be discriminated against? This terribly delicate balance is difficult to deal with. The examples are rich in Israel: the security wall: which inconveniences the lives of many Arabs, in the name of Jewish security, roadblocks in the territories (the classic example of a pregnant women crossing the border- do you check her- she might have a bomb in her belly- or do you let her go and risk her being a suicide bomber.) We come to immediate conclusions that discrimination is in fact needed in order to save lives. If we value life so much, than discrimination is a necessary evil or order to save lives.

I think that this is a a situation that makes most people uncomfortable. There are no rights or wrongs, because it seems that no matter which side you take you feel wrong. You either devalue life, or you discriminate. Therefore, I respect the media's scrutiny of such situations because without it we would become complacent, and begin to believe that "inconveniencing lives" is not important at all- that it may not even picture into the discussion. However, I believe that the situation is much deeper than this. Those who shrug off these types of concerns as a mere annoyance, because of the noble minded goal of saving lives, also devalue our respect for the basic pillars of humanity. I'd like to argue that without the feeling of awkwardness we lose faith in the unity of human kind- what kind of life do we want to live, as what kind of people? I once ran into an incredibly heated debate with a Jewish girl, who just couldn't wrap her mind around the idea of the Israeli security fence- (of course she called it the apartheid wall) While I tried to statistically show her the fact that suicide bombings and attacks on citizens have dramatically decreased- thus saving lives- she wouldn't even hear it. Key to her was the fact that there is a wall that segregates one people from another: one people is so important as to completely inconvenience the lives of another. (economic suffering, loss of land, restricted water access and most importantly reduced freedoms) Now trust me- I feel for the Palestinians whose lives have been turned upside down by the construction of the wall. I am also very sensitive to the wall because of it's political implications: it could mean the possible annexation of land on the Israeli side, without Palestinian input or negotiation. However- I also understand the impact it has made in saving lives- and because of this- and only this, I support it.. grudgingly.

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