Image: Phyllis Chesler (YouTube).
Award winning Jewish author Phyllis Chesler was questioned and had her bag searched at New York’s JFK Airport as a result of a TSA agent’s suspicions over the fact that she was reading a conservative newspaper.
The incident happened on Wednesday afternoon after Chesler’s flight to Florida was delayed due to the recent ice storms.
As soon as Chesler pulled out a copy of The Jewish Press, a popular English language weekly with a conservative political bent, a TSA agent eyed her with suspicion, approached the author and asked to see the newspaper.
After the TSA agent scrutinized the cover of the newspaper and showed it to another security official, Chesler was ordered to open her luggage, which the two agents then proceeded to rifle through.
During the search, Chesler was interrogated by the two TSA workers. As her luggage was being searched, Chesler noticed that a Muslim woman wearing a niqab that covered her entire face apart from her eyes was allowed through security with no questions asked and with no one even bothering to verify her identity.
Chesler was left alone after the two agents found nothing more deadly than a bottle of water. Despite their best efforts to assume the role of political thought police, the TSA workers discovered that reading a newspaper other than the New York Times or the Washington Post isn’t indicative of being a terrorist.
“The issue is not that the Jew was the one who was stopped and the Muslim was the one who sailed through security,” reports the Jewish Press. “The issue is that merely the word Jewish on a newspaper was sufficient to draw the agents’ attention and suspicion, while someone whose identity was impossible to discern, who could be hiding who knows what, was ignored by security – security! professionals.”
Is the TSA training its employees to treat people who read certain books or newspapers as potential security threats? The agency has already been derided for targeting people who wear alternative or political t-shirts.
As we recently highlighted, the federal agency has also instituted a policy in some airports where loudspeakers warn travelers that they could be arrested if they make jokes about the TSA or its increasingly ludicrous procedures.