Full Body Scan Rebellion

I flew to Liverpool last week.

It was the first time this year that I traveled by airplane and therefore, I had not been confronted yet with the reality of full body scanners at Schiphol airport. It actually didn’t register with me immediately that those Star Trek-like large transparant glass cylinders were just that: full body scanners.

As usual when traveling by plane I was somewhat anxious with all the security stuff and the having to struggle to make sure all liquids and lipids were in the closed plastic bag on the conveyor belt and that my netbook was not only removed from my bag, but then also removed from its thin sleave (I really wonder why that is: it’s getting X-rayed!) and then to get my coat and shawl off…

Managed all that without dropping anything and hurried to the entrance of the scanner, but then I got shouted at: “Take your jacket off!”.

Well, I had already removed my coat and the light jacket I wore was more like a thick shirt that happened not to be buttoned down in front. I was wearing some flimsy sleaveless shirt underneath, not quite something I’d wear just like that in public.

So I said no.

They insisted that I had to. I said “Not at all. What I have to do is remove my coat, which I did, it’s right there on the conveyor belt. This,” I said, patting at my jacket, “is my normal clothing and I am not going to strip.” The two people at the scanner looked in exasperation at the guy at the conveyor belt, who started to object. I cut him short and said, “This is what I wear inside, and I am not going to strip here, where would you have me stop? Seriously, I am not doing it.”

Rolling her eyes at the other security guards, the big lady of the lot said, “Ok, but you will have to remove your boots.” Funny that the boots came into the equation only now, I mean, how often would they have made me run back and forth between the conveyor belt and that scanner in my flimsy sleaveless shirt? Duh! Anyway, sure, take the boots! Took them off, put them on the conveyor belt and stepped into the scanner.

The lady muttered that it was likely not to work, because two layers of fabric over each other are problematic. I said it wouldn’t be much of a problem, then, because since the shirt was sleaveless, there would hardly be any double layers. Puzzlingly, she then made me button down my jacket, all the way, not just two buttons or so. No! All of them!

Anyway, I was then instructed to put my arms above my head and to stand still while the scan would take place. So glad I had my jacket on! I am really not keen on showing my naked armpits to the world like that. And to have my bosom pushed forward in a flimsy shirt, which happens to happen with a pose like that, is not something that I am prone to do in any non-private setting either. Call me a prude.

When I stepped out of the scanner, the lady pointed at a screen and said crossly that the scan had failed. I could see that there were some blocks on some areas on a model of a body, that might represent my rump and my crotch. So she patted me down, whee! Well, when they still only used metal detectors, I got patted down a lot too, so that wasn’t much of a novelty, nor did I find it overly intrusive (have experienced worse).

I was clear, so I could go.

After having collected and reassembled myself with coat on and stuff properly stuffed in bag, I walked away and was rather puzzled at myself. Why on earth did I make such a fuss?

It is true that I have always been annoyed with the fact that men can problemlessly wear a T-shirt and a shirt over it and a tie and what not; they might occasionally be asked to take their formal jacket off, but those jackets are usually lined and so are a lot thicker than the kind of jackets they always make me take off. But I have always resented that, so I don’t know what made me be such a pain in the behind now, but it might have had to do with realising that this actually was one of those full body scan things.

I have taken an active interest in those things from the day they were considering to use those at airports after 9/11. I saw the original results and they were appallingly revealing. Later they changed what the security personnel would actually see on the screen (probably the stylised human figure that I saw with the blocks on), but the thing is, somewhere in the system there are still the data that show yours truly’s nooks and crannies. I just don’t like it, and I bet you that before this decade is over, we will find the revealing full body scan pictures of celebrities on the interwebz. Is so going to happen. Not that I think it will happen to me: who cares! but I still don’t like the idea.

Then came the post hoc justification: my scan failed, so there is no data of my nooks and crannies on any of the airport security systems! The lady patted me down, but that was a transient thing, she will probably remember that there was this middle aged bitch being a pain in the behind, but she will not be able to give detailed information about my curves and she will not have any information coupled to my passport number and such.

Another post hoc justification: the lady said that those scans tend to fail with double layers of clothing, right? So what about people wearing boxer shorts under their jeans? That is about the same kind of double layer that I was wearing, are they going to ask those guys to take their jeans off in the middle of a departure hall? I don’t think so! And apparently that doesn’t have an adverse effect on safety.

So yup, I feel good about my tiny act of rebellion.


Delightful Kurdish Dudes Dancing

Update November 25, 2010. Darn. They removed the youtubes. I would be deeply grateful if someone could dig those up for me again!

A Kurdish friend of mine (thanks Rebeen!) sent me those delightful youtubes of traditional Kurdish music and dancing.
It’s in two parts, watch it here:

Apart from the very, VERY catchy rhythm (and so what if those voices do … grate a bit), this bit of music and dancing cheers me up for a number of reasons:

  • The sheer joy with which those guys engage in their dancing
  • The sheer seriousness with which those guys engage in their dancing
  • Look at those shoulders shaking about! they are really INTO it
  • And how they are, let’s say, very well fed, and yet happily engage in a stiff quarter of an hour of exercise with abovementioned cheer and and earnesty
  • Those white shoes under those baggy trousers! Stylish and delightful!
  • Those mustaches are authentic and not offensive one way or another, thank heavens (and if you have no clue what I am talking about, so much the better)
  • The shawl that gets waved about on both ends, it’s serious business, but also very cheerful!
  • Anyone can join, apparently, just follow the steps
  • There may be some sexism (only this one woman!) but certainly no agism
  • It’s kind of nice how those three singers harmoniously share those two microphones

Well, it just cheers me up to no end and makes me want to learn this dance, including the waving about of that shawl.

I’d actually need to cultivate the belly 😀 (nah, not doing so, but you know, the idea is nice)

Now only to know what on earth they are singing, I have no clue (nor does Rebeen). Anyone?

Sheikh Jarrah

I just received this letter via a friend, I thought it would be good to post it here. It was a word document and I altered it a bit to suit this format (a pdf can be found here), and I removed the addendum with all the fax numbers, but you can look them up in the pdf.

Dear friends,

As many of you know from our recent reports, rather terrible things are happening in Jerusalem. The Israeli government is pursuing a policy of forcing Palestinian families from their homes in East Jerusalem and handing over their properties to Jewish settlers. The guiding idea is to plant colonies of fanatical Jewish settlers in the heart of Palestinian neighborhoods. Israeli courts have recently sanctioned such a move in Sheikh Jarrah, where three Palestinian families have now been evicted from their homes; another 28 homes are under a real threat. Needless to say, only Jews are allowed to reclaim property from before 1948 (in the case of Sheikh Jarrah, from Ottoman times, over a hundred years ago); Palestinians have no hope of reclaiming any of the hundreds of homes in West Jerusalem that once belonged to them.

[We recommend the following videos showing the evictions

And this one from Reuters (which can’t be embedded).

Last Friday, December 11, the police violently broke up a peaceful, non-violent protest by Israeli and Palestinian activists and ordinary citizens against what is happening in Sheikh Jarrah. The police were exceptionally brutal, as described in some detail in our report. Twenty-four activists were arrested and held for 36 hours.

(See report in Haaretz)

The police asked that several of them be remanded in custody until the end of the legal procedures against them (possibly a matter of weeks), and they also attempted to evict three international volunteers who had been arrested in Sheikh Jarrah. Fortunately, the court did not grant either of these requests, and all those arrested have now been released under various restraining conditions, including forbidding them to enter Sheikh Jarrah in the near future. Many will likely be charged, entirely falsely, with assaulting a policeman. We do not believe that any such charges will hold up in court—there is excellent video footage disproving them—but the ongoing harassment of key civil rights activists does exact a price.

To watch video footage from the demonstration :

It is very clear that the government wishes to silence democratic protest against its policies of theft and eviction and that it is determined to use the considerable means at its disposal to achieve this goal. The only significant check on their power is pressure from abroad.

If you would like to help, please consider sending an email or fax (the latter is said to be more effective in winning attention) to one of the Israeli diplomatic representatives close to your place of residence (see list below) or to the Mayor of Jerusalem, Mr. Nir Barakat, (lishka@jerusalem.muni.il Fax: 972-2-6296014) protesting Israel’s policy in East Jerusalem.  Even a note of a few short lines can make a difference. You might ask them: Why are discriminatory policies the norm in Jerusalem? Why are only Jews allowed to reclaim their pre-1948 property? Why is the right to protest being suppressed in Jerusalem? Is Israel still a democratic state?

In the past, such protest from abroad has been effective where all other measures failed.

For further information please write to: justjerusalem@gmail.com

Relevant websites:
Israeli Committee against House Demolitions
Ir Amin
Rabbis for Human Rights
The Sheikh Jarrah website

With thanks to all of you for your support,

Dr. Amos Goldberg and Prof. David Shulman

This is important and your voice matters, please take action.

UPDATE see also here and here below

The sad similarities between the Gaza Massacre and 9/11

Ok, so here’s a big bee in my bonnet.

Gaza, which is Palestinian soil, has been cut off since the brutal and hostile takeover by Hamas. Hamas are bastards, their methods, when they took over Gaza, were horrendous. They brutally murdered people opposing them, they just maimed and slaughtered anyone that put a foot wrong. And then Israeli government retaliated with the closing off of Gaza.
In my conversations with people, I have learned that most people do not have a good grasp of what is happening. Gaza is a tiny strip of land, 40 by 10 kms, on average, and 1.5 million people live there. That’s over 4.000 people per square kilometer (for a bit of an idea, look here, worldwide, it’s about a tenth of that per square kilometer.
Now, we have this current conflict. There was a ceasefire. However, rockets kept being launched from Gaza into Israel. I am actually not sure if the location those rockets were fired into were actually legitimate Israelian soil. It is quite likely those feeble qassam rockets were launched into pre-1967 palestinian grounds (and since when is it illegal to fire rockets into your own grounds?). But the number of rockets fired into Israel did drop dramatically. You have to realise that Hamas couldn’t organise a cat fight in a bag if the cats were already in the bag, they are that incompetent, or so I think.
And for some reason, no news source reported the rockets lobbed into Gaza all the time, just one of those things.
But ok, let us assume that Hamas broke the ceasefire, and just let us ignore that the agreement between Hamas and Israel on this particular ceasefire included lifting the sealing off of Gaza.
That’s one of those other things, you know, Gaza has been completely cut off. Hardly anything goes in or out since the sealing off after Hamas took control. Most businesses had to shut down as no raw materials got in and nothing got out either. So factories and businesses shut down. There was no alternative, really. Well, there was Hamas, the guys who took “control” and ceased power over anything coming into Gaza.
Essentially, this is food.
No business, no money, no food, no petrol, not anything (Hamas closed down all internet cafes for being anti islamic and lewd). There also was no way to leave Gaza, because Israel wouldn’t let you get across the border to Israel and also has dozens of ships in the mediterranean, shooting down any vessel that tries to cross. And then there’s the border with Egypt, with all those tunnels you heard about in the news that “are used for smuggling arms”. Yes, yes. Arms. And food. Medical supplies. Everything that Israel wouldn’t let in elsewhere. Babyfood. I am not kidding.
Guess what the main demand is for?
Ok. Leave that for a moment.
So here we have a population of Palestinians who have been greatly let down by their corrupted government led by Arafat for decades. He won the Nobel Peace Prize, you know? Gosh, were those guys ever wrong.
Anyway, those people in Gaza are just like you and me, they want to make a living, feed their families, continue with their lives.
Well, pretty hard after the closing off of Gaza.
The only ones controlling the influx of Anything are those bloody Hamas oppressors. So what do you do? Ok, so, pragmatical as you are, you join them, and you can feed your family again.
So what do we have here? A population almost completely made up of Hamas supporters! And we know for a Fact that Hamas are terrorists!
I want to feed MY family, and would do whatever that takes. Am I lucky that I don’t have to revert to some idiot terrorist organisation for my survival!
And then comes this invasion, ordered by the Israeli government, to attack Gaza.
I said at the beginning of the attack … when will they stop, when they have killed a thousand people?
How naive of me.
They have slaughtered over 1300 Palestinians in this genocide, a third of those women and children. The rest are “Hamas fighters”. Heck, every person ever accepting a loaf of bread from Hamas is considered a “Hamas fighter”.
In the beginning they said that they were warning people before airstrikes, with pamphlets, to leave their residence.
How noble.
Do you have any idea how one transports a family of say, 8, 10, 15, across roads that have been blown to smithereens years ago? How do you move people, if you do have a car but haven’t had any petrol for it in well over a year, because of the blockade? and where do you GO? That area is way overpopulated. Which place is safe?
Now, we know that no place was safe in Gaza. Not even UN buildings (Do I need to mention the illegal use of of phosphorous?).
Those warnings were a farce.

Ok, but the point I wanted to make was this, really.
The current genocide of the Palestinians has triggered mass protests around the world against …. well this is the point:
Not mainly against the current Israelian government, but against jews.
No matter the enormous amount of Jews who abhor and detest the actions of the Israelian government against the Palestinians: this vicious crime has sparked a wave of hatred agains ALL jews, all over the world.
The scale of this vile polarisation is huge. Even journals I used to think were authoritative in the Netherlands have added to the mindless rhetoric: if you are against the Israelian military actions against the people in Gaza you are a) antisemitic and b) pro Hamas.
I am shocked at this.
The Israelian government does NOT represent all the jews in the world at all.
It doesn’t even represent all the zionists in the world.
And I am bold enough to say that the Israelian government does not represent the majority of the Israelians in the world, 20% of them at least not even being jewish.
If Israel has the right of existence, sure, it has a right to defend itself and make its people feel safe, the original object of the zionists. But it forgets that the Palestinians, equally, have the right to be safe.
Anyway, I am drifting from my main point, to which I am getting now.

When 9/11 happened, the world got divided between muslims and non muslims. All muslims suffered because of the few deluded idiots that planned and executed 9/11. Since 9/11 as a muslim, you will have to insanely defend your right to exist, and you have to prove ad nauseam that you are not a terrorist.
Al Qaeda is equivalent to the Israelian Government, both deliberately planning and executing the obliteration of innocent people.
Neither Al Qaeda nor the Israeli government represents all muslims or all jews.
The retaliations for both events, world wide, do focus on all muslims and jews.
All muslims, as well as all jews, are made responsible for those horrible massacres, while most of them by far have nothing to do with it.

And now it gets tricky, because there are more similarities.
We didn’t see any mass condemnations of 9/11 by large muslim communities (I didn’t, did I miss anything?)
And we don’t see any mass condemnation of the Gaza massacre by large jewish communities either.

So this is a very sad thing.
Neither 9/11 nor Gaza had anything to do with religion, and yet it has in both cases led to extremist flares of racial hatred against muslims and jews.
And the bad thing is that it’s not just extremists who all of a sudden turn to a racist view on either jews or muslims, or both. It is just flaring wildly. And it’s insane.
This is not about religion, AT ALL.
This is about extremist hotheaded idiots, thinking that if they bully just a little bit more, they will win.

Violence just breeds more violence.
Those are punks, schoolyard bullies, messing up our civilisation, and we are letting it happen.
Here in the Netherlands, Jewish schools and Synagogues all of a sudden have fallen victim to arson. Mainly by Moroccan youths. It is not as if those kids generally have ever done anything for the plight of the Palestinians!

To my relief, there are so many Israelis (jewish as well as non jewish) who are completely opposed to the atrocities of the Israelian government, and the soldiers too, they are victims of their own regime.

The similarities are just shocking. And the reactions are equally shocking, and it is even more shocking that the people involved don’t even realise how similar their situation is.

The only thing I can do here, is to say, oppose this. Stop the massacre, stop the schism. This is not a religious debate, this is not about jews versus muslims. This is not about jews and christians against muslims. This is about greedy disgruntled warmongering juveniles against other greedy disgruntled warmongering juveniles.

There are people living there, wanting to just go on with their lives. Get educated, get married, have a family, things like that. They deserve to live their lives without their idiot leaders imposing war on them.
I think they have a right to. And I think it is the duty of all of us to make sure these people can exercise their right to peacefully exist.

A brief overview of the conflict, by Avi Schlaim
Jewish peace organistation B’Tselem
Human rights in Gaza and Israel
Jews for Justice for Palestinians
plain facts about Israel
The Israel lobby
International Jewish Anti Zionist Network

Gaia has already begun

So why not me?
Equally valid would be, “so why would I?”

But heck.

Hi! I am Saskia.

And so, for those who happen to stumble on this page at this particular moment, what I intend to do is write something when I have a bee in my bonnet. Can be a Mandevillean bee, a spelling bee, or just a bumble bee, I will see. Bumblebee on Marsh Marigold
Oh, and I am not into foreign poetry! I can hear the sighs of relief already.
Anyway. I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep (har har) so this is it.  For now.