Tuesday, August 5

"I'll choose to live every time..."

As soon as you get off the plane, literally, stepping off of the plane onto the little foot bridge that lets you get from the plane to the terminal, it starts. There's a family, Muslim judging by the young woman's head covering, standing off to the side. Airport security wants to speak to them and has asked them to wait.

I get to the end of the bridge and turn to start walking toward passport control. A woman steps forward, "Hello, sir. Airport security. Can I see your passport please?" Jessie, my wife, has already stepped onto the escalator, "Sure. She has it." She's on her way up. The woman gives me a look and tells me I can go.

We're waiting in line at passport control. They've already told two different families to step aside, both of which look very Arab to me. The girl in front of us looks Arab as well. "Wait over there," she's told. "Where?" "Over there. Someone will come to you in a minute." Security wants to talk to her more before they allow her into the country.

Waiting for our bags to come around on the carousel, a Palestinian man passes. He has a luggage trolley with his bags on it. Two security guards are escorting him out of the airport, one on either side. They walk him around the corner all the way out to the taxi stand. I wonder if they wait for a taxi with him?

Driving home we pass a bus. It's blue and white, a typical Palestinian bus. Two Israeli soldiers have asked everyone to step off and are writing down the names and ID numbers of people on board. It's 5:00 on Saturday afternoon.

All of these things happened within 2 hours of us touching down in Israel as we returned back to work. Small things, seemingly insignificant things. "There are terrorists around. We do these things for the security of the country. You don't know what it's like to have someone want to kill you." These are common explanations for what we see, and are all true statements. But I can't help but wonder how many normal people are inconvenienced by "security measures." I don't know what happens every single day, but I imagine that the day we got off the plane was pretty typical. Here's a family stopped getting off the plane; I'm asked for my passport before I even get close to passport control (and I don't think she was trying to help speed up my entry into the country); families that look Arab are asked to wait to the side; buses are stopped and people are asked to get off. These are all security measures taken by Israel. They're little, daily inconveniences.

An Israeli friend recently told me, "If it's a choice between inconveniencing them, and me living, I'll choose to live every time." I wonder if I would choose the same thing if I were in his position? Is there any number of people I'd consider too many to stop at checkpoints or pull out of line before I thought it wasn't worth the chance? If 100 people wait at a checkpoint so that a terrorist is caught, that seems fair to me. What about 500? 1,000? 10,000? More? When does the law of 'diminishing returns' kick in, and the anger and frustration that are caused not make up for the number of terrorists that are actually caught this way? I can't honestly answer these questions; sure, I live here now, but I don't have to think about raising a family long-term in this environment. If things get too hot, we can always leave. Would I choose to support a society that said that no matter how many normal people are 'inconvenienced', we're going to keep dealing with this certain problem in this certain way?

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