Racism in the name of anti-racism

June 5, 2014

You can’t make this stuff up. Ha’aretz published an essay by one Salman Masalha, an Arab citizen of Israel who is a prominent poet, who vehemently objects to the fact that he was subject to additional security questioning at Ben-Gurion Airport. Israel, unlike the United States, openly engages in ethnic profiling for security purposes. But this post isn’t about whether or to what extent this is justified.

Rather, it’s about an article so thick with irony you can cut it with a knife. In between denouncing brutal Israeli racism and pronouncing that it has no right to exist (so brutal is the racism that he writes this column without apparent fear of repercussion, but that’s the secondary irony), Masalha describes the airport security official who questions him:

Soon, they reappeared, this time with the reinforcement of a muscular man who carried himself like a senior security figure.The muscle, named Ophir, must have thought that the leader of some terror organization had fallen into his hands and that maybe he’d get to expose him and rise in the ranks of nagging and hassling, the sacred “Jewish-democratic” work from the school of Zionism’s racists.

How long have you been living in Jerusalem? Where did you live before that? and Where are you from originally?” he asked, along with other questions.

Ophir was a young, darkish security man, perhaps a descendant of converts from the Arabian Peninsula, perhaps from the Atlas Mountains. But one thing was clear, his black color looked very shabby, tattered and stained with evil.

Like I said, you can’t make this stuff up.

David Bernstein is the George Mason University Foundation Professor at the George Mason University School of Law in Arlington, VA. He is the author of Rehabilitating Lochner: Defending Individual Rights Against Progressive Reform (2011); You Can't Say That! The Growing Threat to Civil Liberties from Antidiscrimination Laws (2003);
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