Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Armed airport guards made him dance. And even demanded an encore



An American performer on tour in Israel, who happens to be married to a Jewish wife, tells the Associated Press how airport security at Ben Gurion made him dance. The dancer didn't charge them for his professional services, and chalks the experience up to the his 70s-era Black Muslim name. Profiling is standard procedure in Israel. At least Bishop Desmond Tutu, who visited earlier this year, was not expected to pull out a tutu and dance for the guards' scrutiny. (Hat tip to C. Gunness)

A performer with the famed Alvin Ailey dance troupe on Tuesday said he was twice forced to perform steps for Israeli airport security officers to prove his identity before he was permitted to enter the country.

Abdur-Rahim Jackson, an eight-year veteran of the dance ensemble, said he was singled out by Israel's renowned airport security because he has a Muslim name. He called the experience embarrassing and said at one point, one of the officers even suggested he change his name.

"To be greeted like this because of my name, it took me back a little bit," said Jackson, who is black.

Israel is the first stop on a six-nation tour celebrating the New York-based dance company's 50th anniversary. Earlier this year, Congress passed a resolution calling the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater a "vital American cultural ambassador to the world."

Jackson said he was pulled aside from other members of the troupe when they arrived at Israel's international airport on Sunday night. He said he was taken to a holding room, where he was asked about the origins of his name. When he explained he was part of the dance group, he was asked to perform.

"I stood up. I asked what type of dance?" he explained. "He said, "Just do anything.' I just moved around."

Minutes later, he said a female officer put him through a similar interrogation and asked him to dance again.

"The only time I'm really expected to dance is when I'm performing," he said.

Jackson said he received his name because his father was a convert to Islam. Jackson said he was not raised a Muslim, does not consider himself religious and is engaged to a Jewish woman in the troupe who has relatives in Israel.

Jackson said he did not plan to press the matter further, saying the numerous apologies he has received from American dignitaries and his Israeli hosts is "enough for me." The Israel Ports Authority said it had no comment because it did not receive a formal complaint.

The incident was reported in Israel's largest newspaper and on an Israeli television news and interview program. "The security guards should be sent home or (the airport) will become a mental asylum," said Motti Kirshenbaum, a veteran commentator and host of the Channel 10 TV program.

Israel is constantly on the alert for attack because of the Israel-Palestinian conflict and extremist Islamic rejection of the Jewish state's existence. Security is strict at all entry points and inside the country.

Israel is famous for the effectiveness of its airport security. But a key element in its security checks is ethnic profiling. The practice has been criticized by Israeli human rights campaigners as racist because it singles out Arabs for tougher treatment.

Such profiling is illegal in the United States, but Jackson said that the only place he has had the similarly humiliating experience of being forced to dance in the past was at a U.S. airport when he returned from a vacation in the Dominican Republic. He did not say when or where that took place.

Jackson said that since the Israeli airport incident, the reception in Israel has been "amazing."

"We're only here to bring positive light to our lives and the people here," he said, calling the group's multicultural appeal "an amazing bind you can't touch, you can only experience."

2 comments:

rebecca said...

The Sea

(1)

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Without a mark, without a bound,

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(2)

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I am where I would ever be;

With the blue above, and the blue below,

And silence wheresoe'er I go;

If a storm should come and awake the deep,

What matter? I shall ride and sleep.

(3)

I love (oh! how I love) to ride

On the fierce foaming bursting tide,

When every mad wave drowns the moon,

Or whistles aloft his tempest tune,

And tells how goes the world below,

And why the south-west blasts do blow.
(4)

I never was on the dull tame shore

but I lov'd the great Sea more and more,

And backwards flew to her billowy breast,

Like a bird that seeketh its mother's nest;

And mother she was, and is to me;

For I was born on the open Sea!

~~~by aoc powerlevewling

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