Sarah Tuttle-Singer
A Mermaid in Jerusalem

Why I want the security guy at the train station to search me

As long as the security guard is checking that hijab-wearing woman's bags, he should also check mine
Closeup of female legs in black pants and boots. Woman walking in the city. (iPhoto)
Closeup of female legs in black pants and boots. Woman walking in the city. (iPhoto)

I take the train a lot — and I usually carry a big old bag and a purse, slung over each shoulder.

I like the train. It’s usually on time. It’s fast. It gets me where I need to go.

Sometimes, I go through a station with a security conveyer belt thingy where we all put our bags through and a security guard watches the contents flash on the x ray screen.

My laptop. My flask. My wallet. My whatever. It’s cool.

It takes a minute, and everyone does it.

But some stations don’t have the conveyer belt — there’s just a security guard out front, and a metal detector you can walk through that always beeps when I go through because I wear all these necklaces and bracelets, or maybe it’s my phone, or my bra or whatever.

When it beeps, the guard might give me a one over and ask if I’m carrying a weapon, and I laugh and just say “no, unless you count my laptop.”

No guard has ever laughed when I’ve made that joke.

Anyway, that’s how it is, but the last time I was at the train station in Ramle heading to TLV, the security guy asked the woman in hijab carrying a tiny purse for her ID, and whether she was carrying a weapon. She handed him her blue Israeli ID same as mine and said “I don’t have a weapon,” and the guard searched her anyway.

When it was my turn, he waved me through without asking me anything even though I was carrying a satchel and wearing a big old backpack.

“Why don’t you ask for my ID and to search my bag?” I asked.

He shrugged.

It’s the little things that add up — the little things that tell nearly 25% of israeli citizenry that they’re outsiders, that they’re dangerous, that they’ll never belong.

Little things like when the PM says “the Arabs are coming in droves to vote,” or when MK Smotrich said we should segregate hospital maternity wards.

“You should have searched me, too,” I told the guard, and I bought my ticket same as the woman in hijab, and we got on the train.

I mostly forgot about it until just now, but I remembered when I got to the train and the security guard said to me “can I see some ID?” and I took out my Israeli ID card.

“Are you carrying any weapons?”


And he searched me anyway. And then he did the exact same thing for everyone else in line behind me. The guy with the gelled hair with the earbuds. The old man with the yarmulke.

All of us.

“Thank you,” I told him.

Because this is a good thing.

Search one of us, search all of us.

Search Muhammad. Search me.

Search Feige Rochel with the long skirt and the wig. Search Idan with the puka shell bracelet and the tattoos. Search Samantha who’s on her first Birthright trip.

Search one of us, search all of us.

I am happy to wait.

There is violence and there is terror and we have justifiable security concerns but in order to be free and safe we also need equality.

Both are essential for a democracy to flourish, and we must not forget the greatest message of all: we are in this together.

And remember this: two of the terrorists in the Entebbe hijacking were German, and the only person to assassinate an Israeli PM was a Jewish Israeli.

We deserve security and we deserve equality.

Check Muhammad. Check me.

Check. Everyone.

Get X-ray machines at every station.

Search one of us, search all of us.

And if they don’t search me the next time I go through, I’ll ask that they do. I hope you will, too.

It’s the little things that add up.

About the Author
Sarah Tuttle-Singer is the author of Jerusalem Drawn and Quartered and the New Media Editor at Times of Israel. She was raised in Venice Beach, California on Yiddish lullabies and Civil Rights anthems, and she now lives in Jerusalem with her 3 kids where she climbs roofs, explores cisterns, opens secret doors, talks to strangers, and writes stories about people — especially taxi drivers. Sarah also speaks before audiences left, right, and center through the Jewish Speakers Bureau, asking them to wrestle with important questions while celebrating their willingness to do so. She loves whisky and tacos and chocolate chip cookies and old maps and foreign coins and discovering new ideas from different perspectives. Sarah is a work in progress.
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