Not everyone’s story of being stopped and searched by the Transportation Security Administration, or TSA, makes national news.
But when Phyllis Chesler, 72, a noted academic and author, was detained by TSA officials at New York City’s JFK Aiport and her bags searched – reportedly because she was caught reading a Jewish newspaper – several prominent outlets published her tale.
Now for the first time, Chesler has publicly commented on the incident, explaining what happened to her in an exclusive interview on Aaron Klein’s WABC Radio show.
“I [was] traveling with a wheelchair,” Chesler related. “I knew we would have a long wait at the airport, so I took my reading, and that included the Jewish Press, and I write for the Jewish Press as well. … The first security guard looked at the title, the headline, turned it over, opened it, pulled over with a smile and a smirk – I was told [by my wheelchair attendant] – a second security guard.
“Meanwhile, I notice a woman in niqab [a dark cloth, often used by Muslim women, which hides all the wearer's face but the eyes] just sail on through without being asked to show her face to indentify herself vis-à-vis her documents,” Chesler continued.
Chesler told Klein the search itself was “a minor blip,” something that could happen to anyone, but argued the TSA is going so far to avoid appearing biased against Arab and Muslim passengers that it’s creating a reverse discrimination that threatens true airport security.
“Now, I understand that we don’t want to be a country that racially profiles, but on the other hand, if we’re really looking to protect this country from terrorism, I think a [72-year-old] Jewish woman/scholar needing a wheelchair is not the best target of suspicion,” Chesler stated. “So the question is not about me or about the Jewish Press but rather what security measures are being taken and how backward is everyone willing to bend to avoid having Muslim civil rights groups, a.k.a. Muslim Brotherhood groups, charge ‘racism’ or ‘Islamophobia’?”
Listen to the interview below: