You’re an accomplished international journalist based in Jerusalem, one of the most prestigious assignments in the global media industry.
The country’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, invites you to a private cocktail party, an annual gala he hosts for international journalists.
What happens when you get there?
Apparently, that depends...
If you’re Arab, have an Arab name or are even talking to someone who has an Arab name, you will be taken aside, questioned at length, sent through a security screening multiple times and strip searched.
If you are none of the above, welcome to the party.
Such was the vibe on January 11, when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's security detail strip searched a number of high profile foreign journalists as they tried to enter an invitation-only cocktail party somewhat akin to the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner. The purpose of the event? To reach out to journalists.
Several journalists were forced to take off all their cloths, including their underwear, for as long as 20 minutes while Netanyahu's security personnel checked their documents.
Yet all journalists at Tuesday's event, including those who were strip searched, are registered with the Israeli government, have already undergone extensive background checks, and were registered for the event days beforehand.
All those singled out for 'extra screening' were international journalists of Palestinian or Arab descent, with the exception of Charles Levinson, the Wall Street Journal's correspondent in Israel, and Menahem Kahana, a veteran Israeli photographer who works for AFP. Both men entered the security check, however, while talking to Palestinian or Arab journalists also waiting in line. Their supposed association with Arab journalists, witnesses said, was the reason they were singled out.
The Foreign Press Association, which represents international journalists in Israel and the Palestinian Territories, expressed "outrage" over the incident and has threatened to boycott future Netanyahu events should they not receive a response.
Show your support for that call, and tell Netanyahu that you expect him to take responsibility for the incident with a simple, public apology.
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