Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Hostage alive-Egyptian official says

Snowflakes were drifting down all over Jerusalem, while the Egyptian foreign minister asserted at his joint press conference this afternoon with Israel's Tzipi Livni that this was no snow job. Aboul Gheit announced to gathered reporters that the kidnapped Israeli soldier, Corporal Gilat Shalit, is alive after six months in captivity. What's more, Egypt is actively working for his release.

Aboul Gheit admits that he could not guarantee the release of the unlucky young corporal who was abducted by Palestinian militants in June. "This is a very sensitive issue and we have to treat it with very serious sensitivity," he said, according to Ynet.

"I hope and believe that he will be released ... But I emphasize that we are working hard for his release and we are sure that he is still alive." Press reports said that months earlier, Hamas had turned down Israeli offers to liberate up to 1000 jailed Palestinians in exchange for the bespectacled soldier they are holding as a bargaining chip.

Earlier today, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met with the Egyptian official, who --according to the Israeli government press office-- had expressed appreciation for Olmert's current policy of restraint and efforts to empower moderates in the Palestinian Authority.

Olmert advised his cabinet that "it's time to show flexibility and generosity" on the issue of prisoners, ahead of the Muslim Eid el-Adha holiday this weekend. Well, perhaps we'd better check to see if today's snow sticks on the Hinnom valley (the alleged entrance to the Biblical Gehenna). That would be a sign, too: that Hell is freezing over. And that Peace in the Muddle East is nigh.

Here at Israelity Bites, we would welcome any possible breakthrough; if some positive proof of Shalit's life were shown, such a gesture could jumpstart the peace process. It's time the stalemate is broken.

Snowy Jeusalem cityscape on Wed, as Shalit remains out in the cold.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Update on Backscatter X-rays

A brief that ran in American newspapers this week noted that Phoenix’s airport (aka International Sky Harbor) now is delaying the installation of controversial backscatter x-rays scanners, similar to the security technology which is operating at Erez checkpoint. Public relations were unlikely to improve over the busy winter holiday season with extra body checks inflicted on harried travelers by undertrained personnel, the airport officials concluded. They prefer to wait a few more months before they introduce these new devices.

The problem is that these scanners reveal more than necessary, giving operators an x-ray peek at what lies underneath passengers' clothing and an opportunity to indulge in crude commentary. But law enforcement experts warned that genitalia must be scanned, since smugglers often prefer to use body cavities or to hide contraband, such as plastic explosive, taped beneath dangly bits. Indeed, the American Civil Liberties Union has slammed these high-tech machines for subjecting airline passengers to “a virtual strip search” much like the ones endured at Israeli checkpoints.

Now the US manufacturers promise that their high resolution graphic images can be rendered to blur intimate zones or to highlight objects inside a line drawing, rather than show them on an unclothed image erected on the screen in real time. No one could confirm what happens to the images perused by adolescent Israeli border guards--and whether individual images get passed around or traded by bored security personnel.

The manufacturers claim that a typical radiation dose from a single security scan is less than 10 microRem (0.1 microSieverts). This amount will not inflict harm on vulnerable people such as pregnant or potentially pregnant women, children, infants, the elderly, or patients undergoing radiation treatment, it is claimed.

The 10 microRem blast is equivalent to:

* The radiation passengers typically get from cosmic rays while flying for two minutes at 30,000 feet.
* One percent (1%) of the ionising radiation dose received by the average person in a typical day. A cat scan would be 100,000 times as potent as a backscatter scan.

There are no statistics available for cumulative exposure.

Monday, December 25, 2006

No flap about the best Present. Xmas 2006

Get real. Wage Peace - Permanently.

Peace is not just some idealised sentiment to be embroidered on a sampler...but it takes sacrifice, negotiation, and oversight in order to achieve it. Season's Greetings.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Slapping down the possibility of peace?

Security was the focus for a quartet of Christian clergymen who crossed into Bethlehem to pray at the grotto where they believe Jesus, the Prince of Peace, was born. The Archbishop of Canterbury, appalled
by his grim journey into the West Bank, pointed out how
the new security barrier, which the Israelis say is preventing suicide attacks, is a manifest symbol of what is "deeply wrong in the human heart". It reveals a "fear of the other and the stranger which keeps all of us in one or another kind of prison", he said. "In this so troubled, complex land, justice and security is never something which one person claims at the expense of another or one community at the expense of another," the archbishop, Dr Rowan Williams, added.

The flight of Christians from this celebrated town is a response to heightened violence and isolation--factors which makes it increasingly hard to eke out a living. Christians used to make up more than 85 per cent of Bethlehem's population in 1948; today they comprise only 12 per cent. But Christian proprietors owned most of the town's hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops. As the West Bank's middle classes abandon their family property, what little prosperity there was vanishes.

Without prosperity, there can be little hope for a Palestinian peace.

Considering the chaos between splintering Palestinian factions, mixed with opportunistic neighbor states that encourage and arm them, the future for peace looks dismal.
Amos Oz ponders the preconditions that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is putting on any negotiations with Syria, in his latest opinion piece that appeared in the Parisian press; meanwhile Marek Halter, in Le Figaro, examine recent blunders which may be stoking future war in the Middle East.
He cites the
prophet Isaiah - who he calls the ultimate proto-activist, armed only with the Word:
"And the fruit of justice shall be peace; and justice will deliver tranquility and security for all." (Isaiah 32:17)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Nuclear nasties and collective amnesia

Ozzy Bee says: i was going insane this morning reading the splash to haaretz: "Mossad chief: Iran will not get nuclear bomb before 2009".
i was sure the mossad chief was saying something very different last year.
i admit that i have a bit of a nervous tick when it comes to talk about the bomb. i think this comes from growing up in the shadow of the cold war and the nuclear arms race and being fed a diet of holocaust films. so this morning for my sanity i did a bit of googling. It seems that mossad's boss has done a backflip with pike, yet this spectacular manouvre has not aroused much journalistic interest, it seems. today he says there's no such thing as a "point of no return" but last year he was certain that iran was within striking distance of this in its nuclear program. there's not even one paragraph reminding readers of this background/history... so the question i have is this just more hyperbolic spin from the israelis or are they telling us the truth? .... the first half of this year - in fact till the war erupted - was a steady diet of alarm raising stories about iran and its deadly intent. ... this kind of political jerking around really, really irritates me because it really makes me feel very unsure and very threatened. but hey, maybe this is what it is to be israeli. australian politicians backflip on taxes and health and australians gripe, groan and sulk. israeli politicians and their servants backflip on war and conflict and israelis, well, they feel like they are constantly under existential threat. i don't blame them.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Kabul Jewish Cabal: the Grudge report

You've likely experienced the inclusive warmth of a nurturing Jewish community, but hardheaded Jews can be masters at nurturing a grudge...even after death. For any lasting conflict resolution, this is the Semitic tribal instinct that peacekeepers must tackle.
(photocredit: Jews in

KABUL-When Yitzhak Levin died 18 months ago, the tragic-comic feud between Afghanistan’s two remaining Jews should have died with him. But Zablon Simintov, the last Jew left in Kabul, is an unforgiving man. He is penniless and alone, and his synagogue is without its sacred scroll. He blames it all on his arch rival Levin.

“The Taliban didn’t even know what Jews were before that idiot went and told them,” the stocky 47-year-old says. “He was crazy ... but he’s dead. Let’s not talk about him.” For years, the two men lived at opposite ends of Kabul’s Flower Street synagogue complex, a miserable two-story building erected in 1966 when the once-flourishing Jewish community had been reduced already to Levin, Simintov and their mutual hatred. Each was imprisoned and tortured by the Taliban on several occasions and each accused the other of betrayal. Simintov said Levin denounced him as an Israeli spy; Levin, countered in kind. The two men prayed daily, but separately. The exact source of their acrimony is unknown, but certainly Simintov was opposed to the octogenarian’s work as a fortuneteller. He considered it to be “un-Jewish.” Levin was also insulted when his younger rival suggested he move to a warmer climate. But Simintov scoffs at that hurt. Kabul’s winters were bad for Levin’s health, he says.

Their constant bickering was so bad it sometimes even descended to physical fights that kept neighbours awake at night. While the two custodians fought, their small two-story synagogue sat virtually unused, its walls blistered and cracking, old Jewish prayer books stuffed roughly in drawers. When, on a cold morning in 2004, Levin was discovered dead in his dusty room, Simintov was fleetingly suspected of murder. He was quickly cleared when a post-mortem found Levin had died of natural causes. His was an important passing, however. It left Simintov, a once-wealthy carpet seller who had suffered a Dickensian fall from grace, as Afghanistan’s last remaining Jew. He is penniless, alone and trying to pick up the pieces of a life ruined by the feud. “I remember when he had many cars. He used to come home with bundles of money,” says Ahmed Nasir, 18, a locksmith whose family operates a Flower Street stall at the foot of Simintov’s residence. “He doesn’t have anything now because of Yitzhak’s bad behaviour.” In a way, Simintov’s personal history mirrors that of his people, whose 800-year history in Afghanistan seems destined to end with him.

At the turn of the 19th Century the community was at its height. The population swelled to 40,000 as Persian Jews seeking refuge from the forced conversions in neighbouring Iran flooded over the border to settle in Afghanistan.

It was only the creation of Israel in 1948, that convinced them to move again. When the exodus was over, the Jewish population numbered just 5,000. And it shrunk again with the Soviet invasion in 1979, when thousands fled the ensuing violence and repression. Indeed, Simintov even left the country for a six-year hiatus in Israel and Turkmenistan where he met and married his wife Elena. She now lives in Holon, Israel, with the couple’s two daughters. But despite the blood ties and his sorry situation in Kabul, Simintov has no plans to return to Israel.

He cryptically insists: “I don’t have anything to go back to.” “I have problems,” he says. One of those problems, it seems, is the issue of the synagogue’s Torah, its sacred scroll, which was confiscated by a Taliban official years ago and still has not been returned. Simintov is convinced it was seized only after Levin told officials he planned on taking the scroll to Israel. “He told them it was 400 years old and it cost 10 million,” he says. “He was lying. He was old. He lost his mind. That’s why he did stupid things.”

Simintov believes the scroll now resides somewhere in the official’s home province of Kandahar, where about 2,500 Canadian troops are stationed, and he has begun the long and perhaps futile process of trying to re-acquire the book. “They should cut his hand off,” he says of the official who confiscated the Torah. It is the Taliban punishment for theft and apt in this case, he thinks. In the meantime, Simintov spends most of his days and nights alone. He continues to have an easy relationship with neighbours such as Nasir and he says many others in the Islamic Republic have accepted the Jewish presence in their midst without hesitation. “We are simple people, no one says anything to each other,” Nasir says. “We are free with him.” The Jewish legacy in Kabul’s crowded streets tells another story, however. Simintov looks after the last remaining section of the city’s Jewish cemetery.

It is on a hillside in the city’s south end and he has to pay a family of four brothers to occupy the land for him. They, alone, stand guard against its disappearance. The brothers have erected a tall wall around the plot of land, in hopes of fending off gradual encroachment by the Muslim residents of the neighbourhood who already have taken over most of the original burial ground.

It sometimes seems a futile measure, since more than a decade ago most of the tombstones were bulldozed when the Afghan government tried to clear the land of housing, but Simintov either thinks it is sufficient, or doesn’t want to ruffle feathers. “I don’t’ know, they might have done it by mistake,” he says when asked about the bulldozers.

Meanwhile, it is unclear when — or if — Simintov will ever leave Afghanistan. Aside from the missing Torah, there is the issue of ownership of the Flower Street synagogue to consider. He takes that very seriously. As he proudly proclaims: “At least I didn’t remove the Jewish flag from this place. I’m the only one who is still here.” (source: Steven William, What's On in Kabul)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

O Hanukkah Bush

Back in the 1960s, reform Jewish friends from Beverly Hills or the San Fernando Valley used to joke about their “Hanukkah Bushes”.

The kids would insist that their parents buy a ceiling-scraping tree, heap it with baubles, and place it next to the front window, just like all the neighbors. Towering fir trees were flocked and decorated in blue and silver balls, or topped with a star of David rather than an angel. Some families added a special ornament for each night of Chanukah. This fad was seen as a kitschy SoCal hybrid of “Happy Cholidays” with Christmas commerce.

Devout Christian evangelicals reviled pagan trees and stockings left out for Santa Claus and restricted themselves to an elaborate nativity scene. They said anything else was putting the X into Christmas. But people of all religions were drawn to the community Xmas tree bonfires in mid-January. (photo above is courtesy of There must be a pyromaniac urge that unites us all. Burn baby burn!

This childhood memory fest was revived when the Jewish National Fund, the Zionists who now own 14 per cent of Israeli land, invited foreign journalists and “assorted Christian friends” to come claim a spruce or fir tree “thinned from its forests.” The largest trees are a staggering 6 metres tall! Leftist friends implied that these gift trees were tainted by a century of pro-settlement sentiment, and that we ought to try and support the Palestinian economy by ferreting out some Christian Xmas tree lots in the West Bank. Easier said than done, considering the obstacles of xrays and turnstills. I did manage to buy a couple of poinsettia plants in East Jerusalem and some overpriced ornaments in Bethlehem. But I hankered for a proper tree, and it seems counterproductive to spurn the JNF’s holiday gift if we expect to interview their members and report their perspective on occupation.

Yet some colleagues consider this notion politically incorrect and suggest that we risk selling out objectivity in exchange for a Hanukkah Bush. (The latter has nothing to do with Dubya Shrubya.) Well, bah humbug. I do wonder whether the JNF gives away trees to any Palestinian Christians. None were in evidence yesterday when Ozzy Bee and I went to pick up our arboreal presents from the JNF, but the giveaway goes on for another week.

We wound our way on the pine-scented Burma Road to Givat-Eshayahu nursery, where a taciturn muscleman took a buzz saw to the beautiful trees of our choice. When we loaded up the car, a nostalgic evergreen aroma of Christmas wafted all around us. We had to take our sylvan load past a couple of checkpoints. Soldiers wished us “Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas”, and cautioned us that the branches poking out the window posed a road hazard. One tiny adolescent soldier with a broad grin could almost have passed as an elf in her green fatigues, if only her rifle had been a toy.

War-Weary Kids & Snipers in Diapers

It doesn’t take an air strike, or a telephoned warning that Israeli bombers are on the way, to terrify the war-weary children of Gaza, Jan McGirk reports in the London Independent. (click above to read entire piece.) Heightened surveillance is enough to cause nightmares.

Lasers glow red in the night like the eyes of wild beasts. An enemy spy drone, like a pale fish-shaped balloon, hovers high overhead to eavesdrop and snap photos. Heaps of fresh rubble cast weird shadows. And sonic booms – louder than a crack of thunder – trigger dread whenever F-16 fighter jets fly low.

In Gaza’s grim conditions, mothers find it hard to tell if their offspring are crying out of fright, pain or misery. But when normally bickering brats fall silent, it’s the first sign of mental scars from being constantly scared...

No sane child can remain unaffected by the mayhem of Gaza Strip. Playmates frequently are killed or maimed: at last count, Israeli guns had slain 89 Gazan children and wounded another 343 since mid- June, about one quarter of the total casualties of the back to back Israeli offensives...Factional feuds and inter-clan battles fell dozens more Palestinians in the crossfire. Three young sons of Baha Baalusha, a senior intelligence officer loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas, were gunned down along with their driver during the morning school run on Monday, Dec 11th. The brothers were aged six, seven and nine. Four other classmates were sprayed by bullets and wounded....

“Children between age six and 12 are the most vulnerable to phobias,” explains Maha el Shawwa, who coordinates all Welfare Association programmes in Gaza. “Littler ones just cling to their mothers or grandmothers, but school-age children start wetting their beds or fearing the dark. They feel ashamed and get teased mercilessly by neighbours and siblings. We try to promote awareness of these simple problems, so the mother won’t place the wet mattress in the sun to dry where everyone can see it.”

In Beit Hanoun, a northern Gaza town, householders discovered that Israeli snipers who stay alert at the trigger all night must wear disposable diapers because they are forbidden to leave their posts. The snipers leave the used ones behind – sealed plastic packets of contempt. Schoolboys who soil themselves at night because they fear walking down a dark hallway often get mocked by their peers as IDF goons with smelly pants. It’s a slow battle for them to regain confidence.

Little Omar, a two year old who witnessed Israeli troops demolishing his father’s orange groves and converting his house to a barracks, mounts a barren hill every morning and simply screams at the horizon.

While most older children attempt to swallow such rage, others feel the need to strike out.

Little Omar, attempting to play in his father's ruined orange grove, heads away from his hill.

It is interesting to note that in Sderot, where hundreds of Qassam rockets have landed, Israeli children suffer many of the same traumatic stress symptoms. Very few have taken up psychosocial services, though, because there seems to be a stigma attached to admitting mental frailty.
Many of the young residents require play therapy in the Russian language, not Hebrew.

Friday, December 15, 2006

O Little Town of Bethlehem

Let there be no barrier to your Christmas joy. We hope that 2007 brings prosperity and peace...or at least a little good will
Seasons Greetings, one and all
(...and a nod to my favourite social researcher for sharing this postmodern image. Graphics are by Banksy, the radical Shoreditch UK graffiti artist, "vandalised oil painting 031"

A daytrip to what amounts to a Jerusalem suburb felt a bit like a mugging. First, the pimply security minders refused entry to our car and insisted that it was against the rules to take a rented vehicle beyond "the fence". "The rule of law will be enforced on my watch," insisted a youngster, caressing his rifle and refusing to look us in the eye. But he couldn't cite the regulation number (and , in fact, journalists technically are allowed to take rental cars inside.) He also refused to talk to any higher-ups on my phone, as it could be a risky ruse to blow him up, and he declined a suggestion to ring them up himself. We went across on foot. Sigh.

The bored Israeli visa stamper kept gabbing to her boyfriend on her cell phone, and we walked through a series of gates and x-rays until we got to the taxi stand on Palestinian turf.
Here, the pace quickened. In the week before Christmas, traditionally high season in Bethlehem, the streets are echoingly empty. We were swarmed--and felt like hapless pigeons about to be plucked. Vendors and taxi drivers were cutting deals over imagined profiteering, and we turned out to be a bitter disappointment for not digging as deeply into our pockets as they had hoped. A Fatah cab driver and an armed Hamas trinket-seller quarreled over us.
Santa Claus, strung up on a pole near the police station, looked rather like he was on the gallows.

Even inside the Church of the Nativity, the atmosphere felt tense. Impatient priests strongarmed visitors out of their way. Chanting and incense swining took precedence over gawkers. Thankfully, the line of Palestinians on the way out were courteous and extremely patient. They go through this twice a day, after all.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Pay-Your-Own Purgatory

There is a newish checkpoint for entering Jerusalem called Maavar Zeitim (the Olives Crossing) and it looks set to rival Erez crossing with its Brave New World technology for intimidation and security. Armed private guards were staffing it on Monday, and one wonders what rules of engagement they will follow. There were more sheep than people in evidence at midday.

According to Jeff Halper, the amiable American anthropology professor who leads consciousness-raising tours to East Jerusalem, Abu Dis and the settlement-cum-bedroom community, Ma'ale Adummim, the United States deducted the cost of building this high tech passage through the "separation barrier" from the money that it gives to the Palestinian Authority each year for security. Isn't it ironic that Palestinans must effectively pay to lock themselves in? The Israeli government, which has pulled down some 18,000 buildings that it deems were erected without proper permits, also charges the demolition costs and fines to Palestinian householders. There is method in this madess, to be sure. If you want to see the evidence for yourself, contact this Israeli action group against house demolitions.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Kosher Power-let there be light

Who knew that electricity could be considered unclean?
A recent report in the Jerusalem Post about Kosher Power reveals that Israelis will be able to plug into Rabbi-sanctioned juice sometime next year. This article sheds some light on the peculiar hurdles with which a Jewish nation must contend.

Some ultra-Orthodox Jews, especially with so many little kids in the family, end up getting shocks from dodgy pirate transformers rather than use ordinary electricity from the mains, which presumably is generated by schlemiels on salary who work for the electricity on the sabbath. Of course, these families could forego electrical power altogether and keep a strict Day of Rest for 24 hours. But a solution seems to be in the offing: Saturday staffing by non-Jewish electricians.

You would think less mundane issues might preoccupy the greybeards and finely-honed minds of this country. Wondering whether the electricity is 100 per cent kosher certainly puts a new twist on that joke about how many Jews it takes to screw in a lightbulb.
Usual answer: None. Jewish Mama says ‘don’t bother. You all go out and have your fun while I sit here in the dark.’
But there is a Haredi alternative : 'None. Let the shabbos goyim take care of it.

More than ever I am convinced that the notion of separating church and state is a wise practice and that a theocracy of any sort won't be as efficient or healthy as secular rule. Alot of unnecessary expense and time goes into keeping these strictures.

Friday, December 08, 2006

This puppy won’t fly

El Al, Israel’s national airline, is not one that most frequent flyers would choose for long haul travel if they could possibly avoid it. True, the security is unparalleled, but the flight crew is surly and schedules erratic. And El Al has been taking extra flak this week for flying on the Sabbath, especially after a prominent rabbi interpreted an engine malfunction that required dumping fuel and a dash back to Tel Aviv as a divine slap for violating strict Talmudic law. Orthodox Jews continued to badmouth the national carrier for dishing up questionable in-flight snacks after the kosher variety went bad during an extended stopover. Some secular Israelis worry that adherence to every possible religious stricture might eventually ground their airline. It's not a 21st century experience as it is.

Pet-lovers have a hard time with El Al. Despite reserving full price seats months in advance, my friend Candice’s JFK-Tel Aviv non-stop was practically a non-starter. She and her golden retriever were bumped off the New York flight four times by dead passengers: cadavers returning to the Holy Land take priority.

Apparently, canine passengers on El Al must have their flights reconfirmed six hours prior to takeoff, to ensure they won’t be sharing cargo space with a dead body. These horizontal El Al passengers can't complain, and they are in dry ice and double coffins for the journey. Apparently it was a hectic week for NY coroners, and it appeared that Candice and her pup were going nowhere. They obligingly waited out the Sabbath hiatus, but were refused a boarding pass for the fourth time in a row. But this time, the woman behind the El Al counter offered a suggestion. “Oy vey. Have you tried booking out of Newark? We never fly the dead outta Jersey.” And so Candice and her canine went via Newark one dog day afternoon.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Hellacious Hebron

Mohammed Alatar, a Texas-based Palestinian filmmaker who is shooting a new documentary about three faiths colliding in Jerusalem, repeats a sort of mantra at every screening of "The Iron Wall", his cinematic opus on the security barrier. Alatar urges any Israeli he meets to do something about the venal atmopshere that blights Hebron. It feels like a ghost town run by vicious enforcers, and grows increasingly tense.

Daily life in this ancient trading center, which was officially chopped into two unequal chunks, is utterly paralysed. Hatred pulses there, and the mutual mistrust of settlers, soldiers, and Arab residents is palpable. The venerable City of the Patriarchs has been brutalised for decades and to live there must be a nightmare. So how can we take steps to fix this mess?
Hebron settler shoulders a rifle for protection at the Arab market back in 1987/photokees vintage photo

Contrast with photo snapped nearly two decades later by Ohel Nashim during her harrowing visit.

Veiled Threat

Increasingly, guerrilla girls and grandmas are taking up arms or wiring themselves to explosives--which must further fuel the boom in body-scanning equipment sold to border security. Whether taking part in rooftop sit-ins, or marching together as human shields for trapped fighters, or even converting themselves into walking bombs, these feminine furies on the far side of the security wall now are a force to reckon with. At this desperate level, no military solution seems feasible.
To come to grips with this trend, read Rory McCarthy of the Guardian on Palestine's empowered sisters, mothers, and martyrs.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Gaza scans - tunnel vision

Wondering what those body scans reveal to Israeli border guards at the northern Gaza checkpoint at Erez? The naked truth about whatever you might be packing.

Once you make it through the Mad Max tunnels and place your feet inside the futuristic "backscatter" tube, you invariably are asked to take off your jacket and raise your hands high. The young border guards often reverse the conveyor belt and send your laptop crashing to the cement floor, but eventually a disembodied Israeli voice will instruct you to wait while a short blast of ultrahigh frequency radio waves tickle your front and back. They penetrate most clothing, but won't go through skin to reveal bone like x-rays do. The idea is to bounce off any illicit items or weapons a border-crosser might be trying to smuggle in.
It's quite revealing, so wear your best undies and be prepared for weird looks if you happen to have peculiarly placed piercings. Palestinians consider this type of scan intrusive and intimidating, particularly for pregnant women crossing into Israel for prenatal care. Many people object if these rather intimate scans are not immediately destroyed. Very few Palestinians use this Erez checkpoint anymore, so pressure for decorum has decreased. The press or humanitarian aid workers don't squawk about this humiliation much.

Following Israeli success with this backscatter scanning system, Heathrow airport and some British prisons are experimenting with it, and now Arizona state will follow suit at Phoenix's Sky Harbour International Airport.