Bra-Gate: Like a TSA Search, But Way Worse

Kim Conte

braDo not under any circumstances try this at your next cocktail party.

A pregnant Arab-Israeli journalist working for Al Jazeera was asked to take her bra off in a security search for a government cocktail party where Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in attendance. When she refused, she was denied entry to the event.

The Israeli government press office has since apologized for the incident -- now unaffectionately referred to as Bra-Gate.

But it's pretty safe to say that the damage had already been done.

Here is Najwan Simri Diab's disturbing account of the experience:

... They created a queue for Arabs and a queue for other journalists. I was angry ... They later took me downstairs to the security check cell. They asked me to take off my coat and then my vest. I did. Then they asked me to take off my shirt. I took a deep breath and did it. I was left with just my undershirt and trousers, without my shoes and the rest of my equipment. The female officer felt me with her hands for 15 minutes in any place possible. I told her I was pregnant and asked her not to use the manual device, but compromised on that later too.

But when it came to removing her bra, Diab refused.

Invasive security searches tend to outrage Americans here in the United States (remember: the TSA controversy of late). But in Israel they are much more routine given the current political climate. In this case, however, members of the foreign press corps were particularly offended because even though the event was invitation-only and they had already been screened through an extensive background check, many were subjected to an embarrassing strip-search.

And, it wasn't just the females who received this treatment; male colleagues were affected as well, including the Wall Street Journal's Charles Levinson and Israeli press photographer, Menahem Kahana, who were asked to take off their pants.

The incident may be shocking to us, but as Diab's co-worker, Sherine Tadros, wrote, it happens much more than we would expect, particularly to females.

As female journalists working in this region we constantly find ourselves putting clothes on to please Hamas and taking them off to please the Israelis.

Do you think Bra-Gate went too far?

Image via ohdarling/Flickr

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