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News Archive    Printer Version June 16, 2007   

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'I was put in a gas chamber,' says Israeli doctor

Two versions of the same tale!

The Germans have a saying - I believe it is part of a poem by Goethe:

"Herr, die Not ist gross,
Die ich rief, die Geister,
werd' ich nun nicht los."

Which, loosely translated, means "Lord, my pain is great, for the phantoms that I roused I cannot get rid of again!"


US airport security check leaves Dr Dorit Zilberman distraught, after reportedly being humiliated only because of her nationality. 'My family perished in Europe's gas chambers, I never thought 65 years later I would be marked, isolated, and put in a gas chamber'

An Israeli doctor who underwent tight security checks at San Francisco International claims that she was humiliated only because of her nationality.

Dr Dorit Zilberman, a senior urologist at the Chaim Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer who was visiting the United States for the first time for a professional conference, claimed that airport security officials led her to what she called a sort of "gas chamber", where she was sprayed with a strong current of air for two minutes, which caused her great pain.

Zilberman filed a complaint with the Foreign Ministry on the matter, and sources at the ministry said they would discuss the subject with the Americans, while adding that the number of Israeli complaints of treatment at American airports has recently been on the rise.

After her handbag passed the standard airport screening, Zilberman was told she had to undergo further security checks and was asked to step aside.

"They took me aside, examined me scrupulously. It was a pretty humiliating situation," Zilberman wrote in her complaint.

The doctor claimed that once she presented her Israeli passport she was told to walk on a different path than the other passengers. "It was a dead end path that led to a kind of corner," she told Ynet.

"I thought I misheard the instructions and I tried to retrace my steps, another woman from the security crew ordered me to stop in a tone as if she was talking to a retard. She told me 'You don't understand, it says here that you should stop and wait for a crew member to approach you.'"

'I have never experienced such humiliation'

Zilberman then asked another crew member why this was being done to her, and if it was because she was Israeli. The crew member simply answered, "I don't know."

Zilberman said she was then lead to a sealed chamber and asked to get in, she was told that she would feel "a flow like in the shower".

"When I walked in, barrages of compressed gas - probably air - were fired at me. Since I am thin, it was very painful. I was then taken out of that 'gas chamber' and taken to another corner where I was asked to take off my shoes, my hand bag was taken from me and my belongings were taken out one by one and scanned along with my shoes in special paper for tracing dangerous substances.

"At that point I started to cry and told the man that in my country I am a respected doctor, and that I had never experienced such a chain of humiliations. He told me that if I didn't like it, I could call the supervisor."

Zilberman said that in all the countries she had visited, she had never experienced such humiliation just because she was Israeli.

"My family perished in the gas chambers in Europe. I never believed that 65 years later, I would be marked, isolated and taken into a gas chamber."

An examination by Yedioth Ahronoth reporter Aryeh Egozi showed that the so-called "gas chamber" Zilberman spoke of is meant to track traces of explosive materials on passengers' clothing.

Air currents meant to release particles of explosives are sprayed at the passenger, and sensors in the chamber examine these particles.

The examination method was authorized by all relevant bodies in the United States and poses no damage whatsoever to the examinee. European airport authorities are considering applying a similar search method as well.

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