A journalist conducting an interview. (Illustrative).
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
The Foreign Press Association complained on Tuesday that a journalist from Finland’s state broadcaster was forced to undergo an overly zealous and demeaning security check at the Prime Minister’s Office, when she arrived to cover the arrival of US Vice President Mike Pence.
The woman, who is accredited by the Government Press Office, was taken behind a curtain, questioned, patted down and scanned with a metal detector, apparently because she is of Palestinian descent. Security personnel then ordered the woman to remove her bra, and when she refused, barred her from the event.
The Prime Minister’s Office later issued an apology and said efforts were made to treat the journalist with respect. But FPA chairman Joe Federman said the incident was still inexcusable.
“There is no honorable way to ask anyone to remove their underwear in a public and professional setting,” Federman told The Jerusalem Post.
The FPA has repeatedly filed complaints about such incidents involving women reporters. Similar incidents have happened to Jewish and Arab reporters who are both local and foreign press.
“Unfortunately, this was just the latest instance of Arab journalists being needlessly hassled by Israeli security in what we believe is clear ethnic profiling,” the FPA statement said. “The repugnant practice of strip-searching journalists puts Israel in a category all of its own and is a mark of shame for a country that boasts of its democratic credentials.”
The FPA stressed that it has repeatedly expressed its understanding of Israel’s unique security needs, and its members are all used to the lengthy check-in process at official events, but said the system can and should be changed.
“Given all of the technology and intelligence at Israel’s fingertips, we fail to see any good reason for the continued humiliation of professional accredited journalists and can only conclude that this only-in-Israel practice is aimed at making people feel unwelcome and keeping them away,” the FPA statement said.