Not censoring, just traveling

If you have commented it should show up within the next day. I’m not censoring, just busy traveling.

My goal on this trip was to explore and learn. To see things for myself.

I’m using this incident as a chance to discuss, learn and question. I hope you’ll join me….

I loved my experience, learned a lot and hope to share more positive anecdotes, as well as laptop updates, in the coming days.

Also, thanks for the invitations, however I am no longer in Israel or the Palestinian areas.

35 thoughts on “Not censoring, just traveling

  1. 137,000 hits and counting (sorry, 138-k after last check).

    Like it or not, you have just officially become part and parcel of the Arab / Israeli conflict.

    Not surprising given that both Ha’Aretz and published your story (crazy Jews shooting computers, just wait till this hits the BBC and al-Jazeera. Likely the US press will pick it up sometime too in the next week.

    I guess congratulations are in order. The stage is yours and the “15-minutes” have officially started. My humble suggestion, take care with what you write in your next few posts so that your own thoughts don’t get swept up in all the political goofiness of the conflict. Such commentary has a way of getting magnified through a Palomar sized lens before all is said and done.

  2. Yeah after hearing the incident with the Laptop I am pretty sure I and anyone I can speak to now will NEVER be going there as well.

    I would like to think something like that would make a LOT of people put that place as a no FLY zone.

    Thanks for the heads up Cris

      • WOW

        More of the suspicious PAronoid Attitudes that Fuel these kind of incidents

        YOU and “Your Kind” are we all not Human…. Your kind WOW

        in this day and age where there is supposed to be racist free we still have statements like that flowing out soo easily

      • “It’s okay Cris,” said Rachel. “Your government is giving us your tax money anyway, so we didn’t really need your tourism patronage.”

        Rachel – Guess what…it won’t be too long now before “your kind” won’t be able to show your passports in any civilized country in the world. Hope you like prison, because the 3 sides of Israel will be as far as you’ll ever be allowed to go. No airport will accept your passport or issue you a visa. And it can all be traced back to xenophobia from people like you. Congrats.

  3. It’s security, stupids. A jewish person cannot escape their heritage. There is no known disquise on the face of this earth. Posturing as a “friend of the arab-underdog”, doesn’t change anything ala the Purim story.

    Becoming a pawn in the hands of the alleged “arab-underdog” reflects your lack of wisdom, ala the Bilim of Beor and his talking donkey story.

    Things in the middle-east conflict between the descendants of ishmael and the descendants of israel are NOT what is “glibly” seen/heard — it is spiritual between the knowledge of good and evil ala the Garden of Eden story.

    And when all the dust has settled what happens to Jerusalem will be exactly what the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has said ala His Holy Bible story.

  4. Howdy;

    I figured if I put this on your other entry about the laptop it would be washed out or lost. Amazon has a service called S3. Its about 0.15USD per gigabyte of disk space. You only pay for what you need. Another solution would be something like dreamhost for 115 per year. Setting up a simple script to run an encrypted backup off site would not be too hard to do. I just setup s3 yesterday because someone broke into my car with my laptop in it. (They didnt steal it, someone scared the bugger off).

    Either way, setting something up for 115 a year or even 3 dollars USD per month in my opinion is well worth it. Anyways, if you have any questions about it you have my email.

    Good luck! Great photos! Keep up the awesome outlook.

  5. I always wondered why a people who did and do so much for the progression of science, the arts, and civilization get so much hate.

    • The arab nations are treated like they are animals, and therefore it is of no surprise when they act in that way. However, the western nations are generally treated with respect and dignity, and as such, are expected to act respectable and dignified.

      Therefore, it is much more likely to read praise of arab nations when they do something right, and criticism of western nations when they do something wrong, because in each case they are opposing their stereotypical nature.

      Does this answer your question?


      question for the owner of the blog:

      I read in your earlier entry that these items were found to be suspicious:

      1. A map to your hostel, and also displaying the bus routes.
      2. A guide to palestine.
      3. An arabic phrasebook.
      4. photos offensive to israeli’s

      I wish to question the airport securities notion that these items were suspicious:

      1. The map is a typical possession of ANY traveler, and it also typical for a traveler to have arrangements at a hotel or hostel. I would think it would be far more suspicious to any security officer if a traveler arrived and did not have a map or lodging arrangements. Because, this would suggest you may been lodging at an undocumented safehouse. And the absence of any type of map, electronic or paper, would suggest that your are trying to avoid electronic and paper trails, or any evidence that would give away your intent of being in that country.

      2. Having a guide to palestine in your possession would indicate that you have only elementary knowledge of palestine, or you would not need a guidebook. One would think that any “terrorist” would probably have intimate knowledge of palestine, and therefore would not need a guidebook, which is typical of any traveler. I would be much more suspicious of a traveler who possessed materials atypical of sites one would normally visit: for an instance, I would not expect someone who sympathizes with the palestinians and arabs to have material information about jewish holy sites, etc.

      3. Need I say it–most enemies of israel are already fluent in arabic. The possession of a phrasebook indicates two things: you have a need for it(your arabic ain’t that great), and you plan to visit areas in palestine, where the arabic language is needed. One would think that Israel would not care if you were planning attacks in palestine.. hell, they would probably give ya medal and name a holiday after ya. However, if you spoke arabic and had a phrasebook in hebrew, I would be a little suspicious, but not much.

      4. First, any “terrorist” would be trying not to draw attention to himself, therefore it is highly unlikely that one would bring anti-semitic photos into an israeli airport if one is trying to keep a low profile. Also, again, suspicious photos would obviously be things like pictures of government buildings, pictures of jewish holy sites, etc… especially if you were entering israel at the time, and therefore had not had the opportunity yet to take such photos.

      And, final point. The owner of this blog is a young female with usa passport, with a good educational background, and in possession of expensive items, such as camera equipment, and a macbook, which do not indicate you are rich, but should indicate you are not poor. The typical terrorist demographic is young male, poor education, in poverty(has nothing to lose), and is ussually an absolutist/fanatic.

      Obviously, the owner of this blog does not fit in this demographic. Although exceptions exist, they are rare and newsworthy.

      Therefore, in all probability, it is likely that the officers who questioned you thought that you were a palestinian sympathizer(which, to a typical jew is the equivalent of being anti-semitic), and because of this, decided to harass you and destroy your possessions. This is not a far-fetched conclusion, because it happens everyday.

      • You make many statements without any citations to back them up. I’ve heard many belligerent activists make those claims before as well but repeating them doesn’t make them any more truthful.

        Your analysis is so far off center it’s almost meaningless. The Israelis weren’t expecting her to be an arch-terrorist running between safe houses while planning multiple, simultaneous suicide attacks. If they thought she was such a great danger then they would have taken her away, not the laptop, obviously.

        No, the border guards were looking for the naive Westerner that hates Israel and is desperately seeking to be accepted in Arab society or to impress a nice boy and they found her.

        Do you honestly believe the Arabs are all stupid? The terrorists (I mean freedom fighters) have long learned to use non-Arabs as accomplices for transporting weapons and explosives past security exactly because of those 4 points you made.

        True story: A young Arabic speaking, Muslim male knew he can’t get past security so he puts a bomb in his pregnant Western girlfriend’s suitcase (he didn’t inform her) and buys her a plane ticket to Israel. Who would stop to think that a pregnant Irish woman could be carrying a bomb in her luggage? If security followed your advice they would have waved her through the gate and the plane would have exploded in midair, killing hundreds of Israelis and his girlfriend and their unborn child as well.

        Here’s the link to her story

        And here’s the ironic bit: if Israeli border guards let her through easy she would have accused them of racial profiling

      • Unfortunately Daniel, one does not need to know Arabic to be a terrorist. There is a long list of non-Arab / non-Muslim individuals who took part in anti-Israel terrorist activities. The hijacking of Air France jet 139 in 1976 (the Famous raid on Entebbe) included several European terrorists. In 1972 members of the Japanese Red Army launched a terrorist attack on Lod Airport in Israel. In 1986, Nezar Hindawi gave his then pregnant Irish fiance a bomb to take on an El Al flight out of Heathrow.

        More recently, you had two British nationals in 2003 go to Israel and commit a suicide bombing attack that killed three people. Just last week, David Headley was arrested for scouting out sites for the suicide attack on Mumbai that killed 166 people. In his survailance, Mr. Headley specifically looked for Jewish sites to attack, selecting the Chabad house in Mumbai where six people, including the Rabbi and his pregnant wife were murdered. BTW, Mr. Headley posed as a Jew to do his ‘recon’ work.

        As for the demographic, there are plenty of examples that put holes in that, one being the 9/11 attack on the United States.

        Ms. Sussman declared to Israeli border police that she was “partly Jewish” but apparently has no knowledge of Jews or Judaism including the holidays. She was carrying a hand made map that showed centers of transportation and tourism marked. She had a list of Palestinian contacts, she had a photo of the word “F*ck” next to a Star of David, and photos from the Gaza conflict. She spent several months in Egypt where she had met a member of the Muslim Brotherhood (a group that is the political/religious parent of HAMAS) and students of the Syrian student union, which she wrote equates Jews with Nazis.

        She declares that press in the US is biased for Israel on her blog, and in her post incident interview running on youtube, declares the border incident to be ‘symbolic of Israeli aggression’ and she has no clue why her comments and smirking might have set off alarm bells in a nation confronted by decades of terrorism, including regular suicide bomb attacks during the past decade.

      • @Victoria
        Who is to blame is irrelevant. What is important is that it is a problem that does exist, and that needs to be solved. Our actions should be rational, and actually contribute to solving the problem, rather than center on punishing those responsible.

        You make a good point that I failed to see. I will consider this and adjust my viewpoint. It makes sense, because a Machiavellian would consider a young american (or egyptian) tourist to be an easy target to exploit(not necessarily with their knowledge) , and so a well training security officer would have cause to selectively screen them.

        Although, I will say that there will be plenty of travelers who would fit this profile, so more respect for a persons property should be practiced. I understand now that they cause to be suspicious, but did they have cause to shoot the laptop? Obviously, there was no bomb in the laptop, so for what reason did they shoot it? I read nothing in the the news reports that said sensors malfunctioned, or it looked suspiciously unlike a laptop under xray, or a dog signaled when he approached the laptop. So, what is the point of all the fancy equipment at airports if they don’t use it?

        Please tell me that the training manual doesn’t say:
        1. Select individual for screening
        2. Examine luggage with our nifty gadgets.
        3. Ignore results.
        4. Shoot laptop.
        5. Apologize

        in regards to my sources–what was expressed was my opinion, and my opinion stems from my education(attending) in political science and social psychology. I do have plenty of resources that influence my opinion, but this is blog comment, not a scholarly paper, and so I do not have cause to list them

  6. Sorry to hear about your experience crossing the border. For those of you who are not familiar with Middle-East geography, Israel is surrounded by neighbors who do not exactly love their being there. Crossing into Israel via one of the few available land-borders is thus by-definition a ‘suspicious’ act that not many people do (other than Israelis). Add to that one intrepid young female traveller (who happens to be Jewish and has spent time *living* in various Arab countries) and the suspicion meter just goes off the scale!

    Of course that is no excuse for what happened in this particular case. I just wanted to point out that this is not at all a “normal” reception. And Lily, it is extremely rare that soldiers shoot their guns, for any reason! Beautiful picture of Haifa BTW – if I am not mistaken, that is not far from my apartment….

    Have you seen the film Cairo Time? I think that you would like it? Happy travels!

  7. Is it normal for customs officers in Israel to waste ammunition on a laptop instead of using x-ray scanners and chemical sniffers?
    Those devices should be readily available at any customs checkpoint…

  8. As a reserve soldier who used to serve on the Israeli – Egyptian border, I have a few comments to add to the laptop story.
    First – as for the surprise for being suspicious in the eyes of the border officers. Well one of the “hottest” terror alert these days and for the last few years is a terror activity leaking from Egypt to Israel, especially by third party agents. One of the common profile of such agents are European/American females who are being involved in romantic relationship with terror activists. Usually being brainwashed with Islamic demagogy Hence the questions you were asked.
    Second – your surprise as an American puzzles me. A good friend of mine paid a visit to the states a few years ago. It was a few years after the 9-11 attack. He was stripped, went through invasive search and questioned for hours before he was sent free. All of that because he has dark skin, similar to eastern countries habitants. So what’s the big surprise? Arent you used to these policies from where you come from? Suddenly Israeli officers are the only insane bad guys?
    Third- as for the anti Israeli comments to your posts. I am clearly aware to the Image of Israeli soldiers as children killers etc. Funny however, that the only people I have ever had to fight with were well-armed and well-trained soldiers. The image of the Palestinians as innocent babies being slaughtered is far, far away from being true.
    I would suggest all the proud Muslims commenting here, to try and look at the central Muslim countries as Saudi Arabia, Libya, Pakistan, Iran, Chad, Algeria Etc. Try to review human rights issues, women and gay and other minorities rights. Not to mention Jews rights or even the Palestinian themselves who are treated as human rubbish in the best case in these countries. Try then to portray Israelis as the scum of the earth.

    • 1. Good point, but remember that this makes the ones who are suckered into this crap victims as well. All young people are hormone driven and ignorant, and therefore easily manipulated.

      2. Your friend was surprised to be stripped searched and questioned for 2 hours, because he seems to have told you about it. Not many people can strike a good conversation about their uneventful day at the airport. If these activities surprised him, why do you think she would act any differently? Being treated like shit, then getting our laptop shot is not a daily occurrence for americans… unless your at D.C. Airport.

      3. Most of the anti-israeli comments stem from collateral damage, not actual combat. Look at it this way: Suppose you have a wife and child, and you are at home counting your gold(or whatever Jews do for fun), and then you hear gunfire from the house next to you. Fanatics are inside the house, and exchanging fire with a squad of israeli soldiers that are on the street. then, your house is peppered with bullets, and you don’t know which side fired them. Your daughter is hit by a bullet and dies in your arms. What does it matter who fired the bullet?! Your daughter is DEAD! People naturally look for someone to blame, and because your people couldn’t possibly made a mistake, you blame the opposing side. The Jews get the most pressure to be humanitarian because they actually have the means to be so.

      5. Your facts on this are not straight, but I am not go to argue with you about this, I just wanted to mention it so that you look deeper into it.

      However, even if this was completely true: them being wrong does not make you right. It just makes you both wrong.

      • Daniel, making a racial comment (counting your gold(or whatever Jews do for fun), )and then trying to portray a “balanced” opinion seems ridiculous. It’s good, though, since it clearly shows to the reader your true nature.
        It’s funny that suddenly, when trying to answer my arguments, everybody becomes the victim. People who choose to assist terrorists are not victims, young and hormone driven as they may be. They have a free will and a free possibility to choose.

        I didnt intend that being treated as you describe is a daily occurrence for Americans. However it is for foreigner coming to the US. The surprise element you talk about, is no more than sheer hypocrisy considering the fact that your country treats other the same, if not in a worse way.

        As for the anti Israeli comments – sorry but I do not accept your arguments. Commentators like you clearly and thoughtfully ignore the whole picture again and again. Yes – being shot at when you try to run a peaceful life is terrible. Unforgivable. BUT – it may not be considering the fact to you chose a government that launched thousands of rockets into urban territory, as the Hamas government (chosen democratically) did after the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

        Thank you for the enlightening comment at the end, by the way. Being said from a racist this really sounds convincing.

      • 1. It was a racial comment, but it was not a racist comment. It was a stereotype. There is a huge difference between the two. And it was not a “slip” either, it was calculated into the message. Emotion compels action, so the only way to get people to act is to stir their emotions. Obviously, it worked, because it at least got one response. Anyone who read the comment and did not respond, I assure you, probably read and remembered the whole thing.

        2. “They have a free will and a free possibility to choose.” >>

        This is your opinion, but the field of psychology disagrees with you. Lookup the stanford prison experiment, and the milgram’s experiment.

        3. You misunderstand. I am not placing blame on anyone here. I am explaining the reason why you hear a lot of anti-israeli comments. No matter why their life is shit, it does not change the fact that it is shit. It is human nature to be pissed off and blame others for it. Israel does it. America does it. The Palestinians do it. Iran does it. Everybody fucking does it. So don’t expect anyone to act differently then the way they are acting under those circumstances.

      • Hi Daniel,

        When I read your comment on “counting your gold” I did hoped it was written in a cynical and humorous manner (and I still hope so), since in this region bitter and long conflicts had evolve from lighter insults. Whatever your explanation for this “miserable’ line, I still believe that you are trying to be objective and un-bigotry, moreover trying to understand in a logical manner who is right and who is wrong in this troubled region. Unfortunately, so much blood of innocent (and not so innocent) people had been wasted in the ME that sometimes the best chance is to try and open a new and blank page.

        I personally think that this page could only be open only after a very large catastrophic event which will force the two nations to reconcile with the existence of the other. In Israel I do believe that most Israelis are ready for such step – but we share the prevailing feeling that on the Palestinian side a true leader is still missing. Most of the public in Israel had made the leap of faith – and ready for the two state solutions (in some form or the other) – and the major leap we did is to recognize that the Palestinian people deserve a homeland. I am still waiting – along with many other Israelis – to see a Pala. leader who will acknowledge that Israel is the home of the Jewish people.

        One more point. During the 62 years of conflicts between Israel and the Arab nations – about 100,000 Arabs were killed – which is 3 times more what hafes El Asad killed in 3 days in Hama. Or only 10% from Muslims killed by other Muslims in a single year (Chad, Iraq, Yemen ect.). The Israeli-Palastinian conflict is attracting much attention in the Arab world because it serves the leaders of these states. Let’s play a small game: if by magic Israel would disappear tomorrow, how would this event will change the life of 500,000,000 Muslims leaving all over the world? Will this help them out of poverty ? Bigotry ? will bring freedom of speech ? gay marriage ? My hypothsis is that the major problems in the Arab world does not concern Israel.

      • Ok, I see:
        “at home counting your gold(or whatever Jews do for fun)” is just a stereotype, a racial comment. It’s not really racist, right? Because we all know (from stereotypes) that some of the Jews actually sit at home and count their gold for fun!

        Let’s try some other non-racist similar comments that you probably agree with, shell we?
        “Suppose you have a three quire boys, and you are at the church raping them (or whatever Catholics do for fun)”
        “Suppose you are at home with your wife, and you pimp her for drugs money (or whatever Niggers do for fun)”

        “Suppose you have a sheep herd, and you are at home shagging your sheep (or whatever Scots do for fun)”
        “Suppose you have a wife and one kid because that’s all the government lets you, and you are at home home-schooling your kid and hit him with a ruler after you sent him to work in the Nike factory for 1.5$ (or whatever Chinese do for fun)”

        Oh my god, making non racist comments is so much fun! Want to try some more?

      • Even though you are trying to be sarcastic, Guyu, you actually have grasped my point. The comment was intended to be offensive, just as your comments were offensive. I wanted people to be disgusted with the comment, because emotion compels action. Regardless if the comment makes me the asshole, it still got you to read it, and even more, to reply to it. On top of that, you have replied in the way that I would like you to reply to it. In this case, the end justifies the means. Some progress was made, and I think it was worth it to make a disgusting comment to show a few just how human and alike we all are. Although, explaining my thought process kinda kills it…

      • @Ak41

        Thank you for your post. I wanted to say one thing, regarding who is right and who is wrong. When one considers the objective moral truth that violence and killing is wrong, it is very easy to see who is wrong and who is right. Those who actions continue and fuel the conflict are wrong, no matter if it is what they intended. Those who actions work to stop the conflict are right. It is time people stop caring about who is to blame, and to stop caring about their pride, and even their religious temples(what sense does it make to destroy god’s work[man, life] to fight over the works of men?[holy sites, temples, etc.]), and to start caring about each other. Those 6 palestinians that died yesterday had names, they had family, they had people that cared about them, and they had people that they cared about. They were human beings, and they died for petty reasons. It doesn’t matter for what reason they died, or who shot them, or if they shot at the israeli army. It matters that they are dead, and that there have been 62 years of opportunities to have prevented that, and very few has stepped up to do it. The ones who have were most likely killed.

      • Hi Daniel,

        I don’t mean to offend you (or to imply that your moral are wrong), but I must disagree with your claim – “…truth that violence and killing is wrong…” for example If you are a citizen of the US you probably know that NH motto is “live free or die”, In the french anthem freedom is worth dying, If some one will point a gun to my son’s head – I will kill this person without a thought, If SOB Nazis will storm your house to send you to a concentration camp you have the morality to resist. So you get my drift – killing is sometimes necessary. Of course I would like to live in a world were no war or killing is the standard, but after 2000 years of History – I am sure this point in time is a bit far away. So how could we reconcile with my utopian morals and day to day reality ?

        You claim that we need to stop fighting, leave everything behind and start (re-start like in a computer) under the logical, moral standard you propose. BUT what if I will do this and Hamas will continue to shoot rockets from Gaza into Israel? or suicide bombers will blow up our buses ? should I wait ? should I resist ? what would you do if someone will attack your country ? (US ? Uk or any other western country ?) how would you react in front a violence act against innocent people ? And when you start fighting – how do you make sure that you will not afflict the same injustice against other people ?

        All these questions are the issues we must life day by day – I am sure that many decisions Israel took were wrong and not fair, but I still believe that in the general frame of work we are still doing more right then wrong.

        And I am still waiting for the day we could all leave in peace with our neighbors.

  9. The sad part of the story is that you spent time traveling and learning about other cultures. Yet you fail to learn anything about your own heritage, Judaism.

    I would suggest coming back to Israel and take a few month off to study in a religious seminary gear toward Jewish women with no background.

  10. There is something that I dont understand:You cried that Israel is bad and bla-bla-bla
    But you still in Israel.WHY ?
    BTW : Great picture of Haifa

    • This question was not directed towards me, but I have a probable answer.

      She is still in Israel, because somebody has to do the right thing. Obviously, with Israel’s track record, she would be naive to think anyone else there would do it. Has been in a war-like state since it was established. I can’t blame them for starting the war, but it has been 60 years! Get your shit taken care of, Israel! Does someone need to school ya all on how to compromise and negotiate?!

      Btw, i think she was just visiting Israel… isn’t she from egypt? I may be mistaken.

      • “I can’t blame them for starting the war”

        Please stop lying. In 1948 Israel accepted the UN compromise, the Arabs from a dozen Muslim countries invaded Israel the next day.

        “Does someone need to school ya all on how to compromise and negotiate?!”

        It was the Arab League that declared the infamous “Three Noes” of Arab policy “No Negotiation with Israel ever, No recognition of Israel’s right to exist ever, No Peace with Israel, ever”

      • @M
        You are so fucking naive. I mentioned that there is a war going on, and it needs to be settled. All you freakin care about is who the hell started it? For fucks sake M, people are dying–Jews and Palestinians. It doesn’t fucking matter who started it, it only matters who ends it! Both jews and palestinians are human M, and even more than that, they are brethren! Hell, they may hate each others guts, but it does not change that fact. Why in the hell have you guys been fighting for over 60 fucking years, killing thousands, kicking people out of their homes, destroying families, over such petty things?!

        It’s material shit M, dirt and trash! Temples that are falling apart! God gave man free will and the ability to reason and think! Man built that crap to glorify God, and Oh, how you have you glorified him. That land was meant to be the “land of milk and honey”, and instead it is the land of blood and tears.

        Considering the Holocaust happened only a few generations ago, you would think that of all people, the Jews would be the the culture who would value human life the most.

        People sure do some wrong fucking shit to prove that they are right. This conflict won’t end until someone be’s the hero by caring more about others over their own personal pride.

  11. Your experience at the border gave me a great idea for a startup!
    It is a service intended to bring traffic to your blog. Basically what it does is make all these crazy things happen to you (favorably in places of conflict and war) so you can write about it in your blog and get loads of traffic! Think how much you can earn from advertisement!
    Here are some of the stuff i had in mind:
    – (the already proven) shoot your laptop on the Egyptian-Israeli border
    – smash your ipod in Afghanistan (special offer by the Taliban)
    – burn your camera in Iraq (offered by the American troops)
    – melt your cellphone in sulfuric acid – a tribute by Al Qaeda, anywhere in the western world.

    I offer revenue share for any other imaginative ideas!

  12. Dear Lily:

    I was moved by your story and how you told it, and feel the need to respond. I apologize in advance if I sound patronizing or if I refer you in “third person”.

    In the Israel of my fantasies, the Israel of the “sabra”, rough shell, sweet on the inside, your story would have continued like this. “I’m sorry that we ruined your computer. We realize that a terrible mistake has been made and that this is important to you. I’m ordering my staff to find you an replacement, here in town, at the latest, when you arrive in Jerusalem. Lots of us have this model and we can part with one and settle up later. We’ll also contact a data recovery facility in Tel Aviv and they’ll help you in case your hard drive isn’t as unscathed as it appears. You must be stressed and hungry. We’d like to offer you a place to freshen up and a decent meal. It’s late and we’ll put you up for the night, then escort you to Jerusalem with a personal guide.” No mumbled half-promises. No forms, no strings. I hope that your actual experience at least went part-way to “making you whole”, be it through the efforts of “official Israel” or through the kindness of friends, family or hosts, Jew or Arab. I hope, “be-ezrat Hashem” (that’s Hebrew for “Insh’Allah”) you ended up with a good time and rewarding experience. Note to Israel: If you act like a war zone, don’t be surprised when foreign ministries and state departments issue advisories to their traveling citizens.

    As a “committed Jew” with Zionism in the blood, I’m distressed at the responses you’ve gotten. People on either side rehashing the familiar one-dimensional arguments, each ignoring the other’s connection and complex history with this land, as well as his humanity.

    It’s easy when you take the fundamentalist approach. “God gave us the land. God tells us they suck. We just want to live in peace. They won’t let us. We wish they were not here.” No need to consider the other. Kach-ists think this way, so did the 9/11 hijackers.

    Then you start to think. I recall the atrocities committed in the former Yugoslavia, justified by something awful that the other side did…five hundred years ago. At what point to “the facts on the ground” overrule “mandates from God”? (Perhaps the Neturei Karta, who put a religious spin on their opposition to Zionism, knew exactly what they were doing?)

    So, the “conflict” (which you were conveniently quizzed about at Taba) doesn’t seem easily solved, at least not today. Perhaps people like you, who are willing to defy “convention” and build bridges across the world, might help. Perhaps in 10 or 50 or 100 years, Arab fighting Jew will seem as archaic as Germany fighting France. Meanwhile, I wish we could all do the next best thing…when working with “the other” and not faced with a life-or-death situation, leave the war outside. Do your best to help forge the peace one on one. Can we both acknowledge the conflict while expressing some kind of love? I hope so.

    Back to you and your laptop. A lot of commenters have pointed fingers at you and what you should and should not have done. People, Israel is a country who, to a huge extent, counts on tourism, foreign investment and goodwill. Israel spends millions marketing itself as a place to “come stay with friends” and more millions subsidizing visits for people of your demographic (or at least people like you but without the Arab stamps in their passport. BTW, if I were Israel, I would definitely want you here. Twenty years old is too young to write off.) Does Israel sometimes hassle people on entry? Yes, security is an issue, I hope they know what they’re doing. I’d give them the benefit of the doubt. Do innocent people ever get duped into being accessories to terror. Yes, which is why they always ask “Did anyone give you…”. Does Israeli security target and sometimes destroy “suspicious objects”? Yes, that’s a necessary price that’s paid. But (and taking your story as told) you were taken aside for lengthy and intense questioning (in other words detained), likely after a lengthy trip. You were told (or believe that you were told) to leave your luggage here, go there, do this, don’t do that. At that point, Israel took moral responsibility for your well being and that of your stuff. Even if you goofed somewhere, what should we expect from a weary traveler after a two hour interrogation and search? What if you dodn;t have backups? What if the new machine wouldn’t accept the restore? What if you had an important piece of software with the disk back home? What if you miss half of a hard-earned vacation trying to fix this mess? What if your grades suffer this semester, or you lose out on an internship or job opportunity? Where do you go to get your life back?You walked in with a MacBook with your software, settings and documents (Imagine how long it takes to get all that restored. If this happened to me, the time I’d need to spend trying to become whole would greatly exceed the cost of the laptop itself. I’d probably also be jailed for disorderly conduct.) I’m guessing that as some poster commented, you got help after your loss. But what if you hadn’t blogged, or no one noticed because it wasn’t a Mac, or it wasn’t the right day or whatever? Your ability to get help does not take away the border guards’ obligation to do more than fob you off with a note. Is everyone who loses limb or property to official misconduct made whole? We both know the unfortunate answer.

    I hope that your laptop was destroyed at Taba purely because of security procedures and a lack of communications. I hope that it was not a clerk’s envy at “the American girl with the nice computer that gets to see the world”. I hope that it wasn’t some functionary with a badge and gun, “teaching you a lesson” for some real or perceived slight. And I truly, truly, hope, that this was not the work of “official Israel”, who decided that visitors with your “profile” need to be deterred. I hope that your story is true and sincere with none of the ulterior motive. Also, I can’t help but think that part of the reason your story got legs was that you are American, young and have a Jewish name. I hope that the next time you’re asked about your Jewish knowledge, you can respond with confidence. A little knowledge goes a long way against the forces of fundamentalism.

    Of course, from your work and travel, you realize that what you went through is no where near what your clients have had to deal with, fleeing Sudan or Iraq. Or the suffering of people encircled by a growing wall, with no relief in site. Or the family who’s lost a loved one to a terror attack. The people at Taba certainly can’t solve all the world’s ills. But in the Israel of my fantasies, they do right by the people who come though its gates.

    Best wishes to you.
    Note. I wrote this up before seeing your updates.

  13. Dear Lily,

    Let’s role play for a moment. If you were checking the camera of undocumented guest entering your NY home and on that camera you found of picture of your home with hate graffiti on it, what would you think about that guest and their intentions? Just art?? Just documenting the unpleasantness? Harm?

    Unfortunately you behaved like the sterotypical “Ugly American”. For a youthful, new england university student, *world* traveler you a committed faux pas that even vacation weary, homeward bound southeastern USA travel rookies don’t commit. In spite of a rednecks lower economic position they are rich in manners and hospitality. Perhaps you could learn from them.

    Now, grow up, be sensitive to Israels need to protect itself and take a course on manners.

    Warm regards,

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