Thursday, January 18, 2007

Are you Commando !

Now going "commando" is one of lifes simple pleasures, and for those who are unaware of the expression "commando" it is a term that describes not wearing underwear under your clothes. There is nothing kinky in any way about going to commando, it is not something that one advertises by walking into the office in the morning and when being asked "How are you today?" one does not reply "Great thanks and I am wearing no underwear"

So what does this have to do with life in the Unholyland.

Well the story starts simply with the knowledge that anytime you go anywhere in Israel, you will be subjected to security. It is a fact of life here and no one objects to being searched or bags beng scanned. A fact of life here is that there is security everywhere, whether going into a coffee shop, mall or cinema you will be checked, a casual wave of a handheld metal detector or the simple question "Do you have a gun"

Now add the joys of carrying equipment for a TV News Interview and security steps up, we have stopped carrying battery belts as they look like the types of belts that Suicide Bombers wear, and they freak the living hell out of any xray scan to say the least. But still we need batteries for the camera, so you get used to having them x-rayed again and again, with endless perplexed security staff asking questions.

If you have ever visited Israel and had the joy of being subjected to the Airport Security check as you leave, you will understand that nothing is left to chance and you can expect to be asked the most blatent questions and have all your bags completely pulled apart and searched and then be subjected to more questions and then have every item in your baggage swabbed and tested for explosives. It can take a couple of hours to actually get thru security on occasions. Everyone has a horror story about leaving Israel.

Now apart from the Airport & the Prime Ministers Office , the next worse (or most efficient) is the Defence Dept, Israels Pentagon. Here you get the full treatment, just like the airport, your passport is examined and every foreign stamp requires an explanation. And all going well you avoid the back room.

We had a simple interview to do with the Assistant Defence Minister the other day, nothing major a simple in and out three questions. I did not even take lights in for the Interview as it would of just added to the Security nightmare.

Our new correspondent Reena, came along to the interview, as we had just finished shooting an interview for her on the "Rise of Islamic Fundamentalism in the Horn of Africa" the sheer title explains how intresting the topic is. Anyway Producer Yonat Friling and I had spent the morning helping Reena to the nuances of Passports and Security in relation to life in Israel.

Reena has only one Passport at the moment and it includes stamps from Jordan and Iraq in it. Now you can imagine the expression on the face of the Security Staff at the Defence Building when being presented with a passport that has stamps from Iraq.

In the 1st Gulf War, the Defence Building in Tel Aviv was the prime target for Saddams Scud missiles. When he fired them this was the building he wanted to hit.

So the Security Staff confer and confer, then confer some more all with Reenas passport in hand. Yonat and I are questioned separately and allowed thru to the next point past security. Reena however is now no where to be seen. She has been taken to the back room for more questions.

After about ten minutes, her shoes come out and are x-rayed, we even joked about hearing the sounds of the latex gloves being snapped on. Another five minutes and still no Reena in sight. The security staff are nice but will not answer any questions as to why she is being questioned and how long it will take.

Another five minutes pass and Reena appears with a smile on her face. No matter how many times they scanned her with the mag wand they kept getting a positive and finally they tracked it down to the buttons on her jeans fly, so apparently the female security staff had to ask her to undo her pants so that they could check they were just buttons and not some fiendish Iraqi plot to get into the building.

My only comment to Reena as we got into the lift to go up to the interview was

"Note to self, make sure you are wearing underwear"

This all goes to illustrate that going "Commando" may be not such a good idea in the Military Headquarters here in Israel.

As to whether I was Commando , that something I only know.

Another day, another glimpse of life here in Israel


Anonymous said...

We sense you are a closet commando, Mal. If it makes you a better photographer/runner we are considering trying it. Also save us some much needed cash not buying ahummm...unmentionables. All the more to buy a racing escape the curious perhaps. See Mal run.

21st Century Mom said...

You mean you don't go in to the office every day and when asked 'how are you' reply 'I'm GREAT! It's a beautiful day and my groove thing is running wild"? You'd certainly brighten everyone else's day if you did!

All I could think about when I read your post was the hue and cry we hear in the US every time the police want to mount a video camera in a high crime area. We would like to complain about TSA but that just gets you sent to the back room so we don't.

Jill said...

Years ago I flew into Jeddah (Saudi) and remember having my bags checked and security completely avoiding my "delicates." I thought that was so funny! I could have brought so much contraband into the country if I had only known!! I wonder if it is still that way.

Jungle Mom said...

I had a security incident once involving...well, something involving some needed support!!Watch out for 'under- wire' when traveling to certain countries!

newsjunkie said...

Poor Reena! My cousin is a Screener Trainer for the TSA here in the US and she has told me some stories about special security searches she's had to do. I've learned how to pack/dress smart when flying as a result of her stories, that's for sure!