Tuesday, March 16, 2004

“X” marks the Israeli-Arab workers

The AP reports that "Israeli-Arab workers building a new wing for Israel's legislature had their helmets marked with red paint to help security guards distinguish them from foreign labourers," but "Parliament Speaker Reuven Rivlin ordered the markings removed after learning of the practice from a report in the Maariv newspaper." Critics charged that the marks were racist and, because of the resonance with Jewish history, highly offensive.

Curiously, the AP report doesn't mention one of the more controversial facets of Maariv's story:

The [Knesset's] Security Department instructed that their helmets be marked so that it would be easier to distinguish them from other, foreign workers and keep a constant watch on their movements. The instructions were issued even though many of the workers were cleared by the General Security Service within the last month. In a story scheduled for the Hebrew magazine section of Friday’s Maariv, the X is explained as a target for security snipers posted on the Knesset balcony, in the event of a riot or attack.
In one word: disgusting.