Gosh, I feel like I have stage fright…but I feel I should post a response to the incredible response that my last post received and continues to generate.

I had no idea when I sat down to write on Monday about my ordeal the previous day that it would have exploded into this and thrust me and these issues at hand into the spotlight. But I appreciate the dialogue it has generated and feel so much support.

I’m having trouble keeping up with the comments on the post. Some of these discussions have been going on for almost as long as the post has been up! It seems obvious that what happened stirred some deep sentiments among the readers, and, if nothing else comes of it, at least we can say we have the freedom and ability to have this dialogue in an open environment.

Thank you for all the support and well wishes, and I will continue to update this blog as any news transpires.


Leave a comment


  1. John

     /  September 14, 2011

    You should not have allowed yourself to be finger printed, there was no arrest nor charges.
    There was no reason in holding you for so long. Cabin crew does not have the experience to handle this and if they really believed you posed a threat they would have diverted the plane and not taxied in the populated area.
    With the following that you have generated you should call for a boycott of Frontier Airlines and check with your lawyers about illegal detention.
    Now that the feds and dhs have your details you will be monitored.

    • Not so long ago I would have said that was outrageous, but then I was on PBS where untrained mall security guards were profiling shoppers at the Mall of America and that info on people was being kept too. What are we coming to?

  2. It just amazes me how much raw emotion there still is over 9/11! Clearly, there are those, especially relatives of victims and others who survived that day who have never been able to move past 9/11 even 10 years later (which is really noticeable by the fact many such got upset a couple of years ago when some local TV stations were only going to broadcast the readings of the names of those who perished that day on the web, forcing the stations to retract and show it over-the-air) and in some cases never will, while others have grown much more paranoid since 9/11.

    A perfect example of this is subway and train photography, a topic that routinely comes up on a board called SubChat (http://www.subchat.com/subchat.asp), where people wanting to take photos of trains and the like that they have in many cases done for many years as a hobby (and LONG before 9/11) in many cases have been harassed and sometimes detained illegally by police, a subject that has come up so many times on that board in recent years that I lost count. While none of them have ever been subjected to what you dealt with Ms. Hebshi, it shows how paranoid some have become in our society since that day 10 years ago.

    As said in the other blog, what I’m amazed at is as bad as your situation was (and yours was disgusting and very disturbing), what to me is even more disturbing is what happened in The Meadowlands (just outside NYC) on Sunday night as a man came into Met Life Stadium to see the Dallas Cowboys-New York Jets game dressed in Cowboys gear managing to get a stun gun past security at a game where former President Bush was attending (there is a thread with video of that incident at: http://www.toosmarttofail.com/forums/showthread.php?15528). While he “only” used that stun gun during a brawl in the stands, the fact he was able to get that past security on the anniversary of 9/11 should be sending many more alarm bells than anything else, as it’s possible terrorists have seen or heard of this incident by now. It amazes me how little this incident has been played up at all outside New York, especially since it’s something many going to sporting events do worry about. It certainly is something that should have been of a much bigger concern than whether or not three people who CLEARLY did not know each other and happened to be seated together looking suspicious, at least in my opinion.

  3. Chico

     /  September 15, 2011

    Keep writing, and I recommend suing the government for the violation of rights.

    It’s the only way to bring back common sense and American rights.

  4. A. Non

     /  September 15, 2011

    Dear Shoshana,

    First, my apologies for remaining anonymous, but I think it is justified in my case. Second, please, please sue over this. I am sure the ACLU will be happy to represent you. I would represent you myself if I lived in Ohio . You have a duty to take the goverment on over this. You are articulate, intelligent and well-educated. For every person like you that something likes this happens to, there are hundreds that do not have your advantages. It falls to you to speak up for them. It sounds kind of corny but to whom much is given, sometimes, much is asked. If people like you will not stand up for, not just your rights, but everyone’s rights, who will?

    This is not, of course, legal advice, but the government’s position that you were not arrested is completely laughable. The police are entitled to do investigative detentions that do not rise to the level of a full custodial arrest, but strip-searching and fingerprinting goes pretty far over that line. It seems apparent that they had no probable cause — or even an articulable suspicion — on which to arrest you.

    So make the government come clean and defend their actions in court. Regardless of what happens in your case, perhaps the government — and certainly the airport police in Detroit — will think a little harder before they arrest and strip-search the next completely innocent person. Once again, it sounds corny, but you owe it to America. Many people complain about America’s problems. You have a unique opportunity to help fix one of them. I hope that you do.
    Good Luck and hang in there,

  5. John Bowen Brown II

     /  September 15, 2011

    Some law enforcement official said You were being stripped searched for your protection. As far as I am concerned you were raped

    • Matt

       /  September 16, 2011

      No, She said You understand we have to do this for our protection. I understand why you complied. You had no choice. But I – and I’m sure you – do not understand why they had to do that.

  6. Wow, I just found your story and all I can say is….. Wow! I wish we as a people were better than that. But we’re not. I hope you have a big-guns lawyer and that some bigshot cops are losing their jobs.

  7. Hi, my name is cecilia and i read your entire story when it was released on freshly pressed. i did not leave a comment then as I am not an american though I have a green card, sometimes i don’t feel i have the right to be outraged if that makes any sense. I am from NZ. Our police are not even allowed to carry guns (neither is the public). I am used to a different set of rules. The Police here have the most extraordinary rights. However all that aside i really wanted to say that your work was excellently written. The subject matter was handled in a way that allowed us as the readers to truly empathise with you. You were honest. Even amusing at times. Which caught your readers up. You did a very good job of telling your story so that we would read it all. Thank you.. c

  8. karendunnam

     /  September 15, 2011

    Shared it with the Rachel Maddow Show folks, and I would be very surprised if you don’t hear back from them. (And if Frontier doesn’t roll out a red carpet going forward.)

  9. earth2ivy

     /  September 15, 2011

    It is an absolute shame that innocent people have to endure such maltreatment – this gives an entirely new perspective on the reach of fear the terrorists had and still have on our culture. I admire the dignity, composure and courage with which you wrote this eloquent piece but I am saddened because nothing can take this experience away from you. It’s unforgettable. Continue to convey your story to whomever will hear because this account will only help our Nation. Endeavors of raising such awareness are the acts of a true American, standing in the face adversity and prejudice. Thank you for sharing.

  10. Jeff Larson

     /  September 15, 2011

    Shoshana, history is the story of ordinary people who do extraordinary things. Thank you for being extraordinary.

    The surveillance state is a step along the path that runs from a free society to the world of Orwell’s 1984. The thing about a path is, it runs both ways. If you don’t like your destination, you can turn around and go back.

    It goes without saying that the surveillance state perpetrates injustices like the ones you experienced. Many of us join you in knowing that it is not the way to be free or to be secure.

    50 years ago, there was a system of entrenched, legalized racial inequality in America. Many people played a role in dismantling that system. Some are familiar faces, most are not. I’m sure you remember Rosa Parks. Like you, she was just sitting on a mode of transportation, minding her own business, doing no harm to anyone. Like you, she was arrested, taken to jail, and fingerprinted. I don’t know for a fact that Rosa Parks was strip searched, but it seems likely that she had to surrender her clothes, as she spent the night in jail and wasn’t released until late the next day.

    I see that some on the net are calling you a modern-day Rosa Parks. I’m sure that’s an honor you never sought. But then, like you, Rosa Parks never set out to be famous. She was just tired of giving in, of complying with petty demands like being forced to give up her seat just because of who she was. In her words, “The more we gave in, the more we complied with that kind of treatment, the more oppressive it became.”

    Rosa Parks had to comply with the policeman’s orders to go to jail, and you had to comply with the orders given you. But afterwards, the story of her ordeal became the beginning of the end for segregation. Perhaps your story will become the beginning of the end of our collective madness over the terrible deeds that were done to us 10 years ago.

    Thank you for having the courage to tell your story, and the eloquence to tell it well. I hope we have the same courage in our time as people did in her time, the courage to rise above our fears, the courage to confront each other, and the courage to ensure that simple human decency is extended to all.

  11. (not for publication)
    Dear Shoshana Hebshi,
    This is George Joseph, a reporter with India Abroad, published from New York. I am writing about the incident. I wonder if I can speak to you today.
    My numbers: 917-324-4907 cell; 646-432-6041 off

    • Hi George, I am working with the ACLU on this now, and so all media inquiries should go through their communications director, Rana Elmir: 313.578.6816/relmir@aclumich.org Thanks!

  12. I hope you are ok after this ordeal, and thank you for sharing your story with through your writing.
    We live hard times, ghost of the past seem to aunt the western world, were fear and prejudice are again used to make us accept loosing our democratic rights to the profit of the reigning oligarchy and military industry.
    Greetings !

  13. I read your original post on the subject and felt sick with disgust. I read the Yahoo article and subsequent comments and felt overwhelmed with disgust. The fact that it happened is evidence enough that racism, draped in patriotism and safety, still exists. The comments on the Yahoo article is evidence that in many cases it is a blatant and unapologetic as could be. In both cases there should be shame.

    Hopefully this sudden fame will shed light on the fact that these policies and actions do nothing to make us safer. Letting any bystander with no proper training in profiling define what is suspicious only diverts resources from the actual prevention of terrorism. We are less safe because of these reactionary tactics and we are terrorized in the process. You have put into words an experience that many of us tried to warn against. I hope your words find power to influence change. Thank you for sharing your story.

  14. Cathy

     /  September 15, 2011

    Shoshana, I would like to echo A.non. Definitely pursue this! As a woman and a Jew, I am personally outraged. Yes, get a lawyer, yes speak to Rachel Maddox, YES, stand up for your rights as a citizen, a woman, a person of Arabic heritage. What they did to you was as appropriate as profiling every male because the 9/11 hijackers were men!

    Stand strong – you are an example to other women. We look to your courage as a model for ourselves.

  15. Beth C

     /  September 15, 2011

    Thank you for telling your story so eloquently. You will be criticized from both the left or right for what you “should” have done differently. There is so much strong rhetoric on both sides now. I hope you can keep telling your story, and that people who would not listen to someone they term an “activist” will be engaged by your honest re-telling of events, and perhaps think about whether or not we want our society to move in the direction of continuing to lose our basic civil rights. Or not. It’s in our power to change things and it is only by ordinary people speaking up that we can do so. Kudos.

  16. The only way that stories like this will ever end is if somebody with a story like yours uses the resources of the ACLU to receive justice for what you were put through.

    Please, don’t let this go. Don’t let this end at this blog. Don’t let this country continue to treat people differently out of fear.

  17. Go Shosh, Go! My teenager (fellow Highlander) is getting your word out there, and is inspired by your strength. Keep pushing forward! We’re behind you! – Katie & B

  18. Shoshana —
    Thank you for sharing your story. It’s maddening, and outrageous that something like this could happen in a nation such as ours! Your story inspired me to write this piece for examiner.com (you’ve got such a talent for the written word, I’m a little intimidated sharing this story with you):


    I wish you well in going forward … and hope this type of “reaction” never happens again.

    Shaun Manley
    Port Huron, MI

  19. MelissainMO

     /  September 16, 2011

    God bless you, Shoshana! You know though, statistically, you are considered a white woman so when the number crunchers spit out that stats to give to reporters, they can claim that Arabs are not harrassed any more on planes than anyone else. I am ‘randomly chosen’ each time I fly and the numbers just show that I am just one of those ‘middle-aged pushing elderly white women’ that everyone complains are being picked on while the ‘true terrorists’ get a free pass. HOWEVER, I am convinced that it is because I have an Arabic name and Arab ancestry.

  20. Brian

     /  September 16, 2011

    I don’t know if you are still reading comments since your previous post went viral; but I wanted to say that I am so very sorry that this happened to you. We have completely abandoned the principles that made us the greatest country in the world in the interest of being safe. And I am especially offended by the “it’s for our protection” statements. YOU already know that YOU are not a terrorist. I think it would be better if they just didn’t say anything at all. Or gave a sincere apology together with a detailed explanation rather than platitudes. Now, all of your personal information is on file at the FBI until the end of time. I have no doubt that they are monitoring everyone who is commenting on your blog. And what was the point of the person who drove you back to your car asking if you were OK to drive back to Ohio? After the ordeal that they put you through, it is not remotely likely that you would turn to them for help. The terrorists have won because they have made us redefine OUR definition of winning.

  21. ianchai

     /  September 16, 2011

    When I read your original post a few days ago, I immediately thought, “Gosh, this is almost like a scene out of ‘Little Brother’!”

    Little Brother is a novel by Science Fiction writer Cory Doctorow about Homeland Security run amok, and I found it really gripping reading.

    Incidentally, Cory Doctorow doesn’t believe in copy-protecting his books — he believes that by allowing people to copy his books freely, he’ll actually make more money, just like all the open-sourced software out there. So you can download and read “Little Brother” from http://craphound.com/littlebrother/

  22. Chief

     /  September 16, 2011

    When my daughter pointed out your post, I tried to give your story broader dissemination by posting this:

    It is really incomprehensible what the USA has turned into.

  23. Please, get a grip… thrown into handcuffs? Things are tough all over, but I don’t feel that being detained with 2 suspicious characters when no one knew if you were with them or not is a big enough deal for the drama you turned into. I am sure that there are thousands of people whose relatives died on 9/11/01 that wish someone had been nosy or concerned enough to raise questions about unusual activities, wether they involved a rest room or not. The time you spent wondering if this is how the people in Abu Grabi felt (geez, what drama allright), you could have spent thinking that maybe those guys were trouble and you were just unfortunate enough to be close to them. So get a grip, and move on!

  24. Donna Miller

     /  September 17, 2011

    “Please, get a grip… thrown into handcuffs?”

    No, you pea-brained fuckwit. Do you really have that much of a reading comprehension problem? A bunch of heavily armed thugs charged onto her plane, dragged her off without telling her why, detained her for four hours, subjected her to interrogation about every detail of her life, denied her the the chance to go to the bathroom when she needed to, forced her to strip naked before a strange woman, and shoved fingers up her vagina and rectum. All because she happened to have a similar skin color to the other two passengers sitting in her row. Then you pop up here and trot out the 9/11 victims as an excuse for your lack of a shred of human empathy.

    Amy, people like you are sorryass excuses for Americans. You are selfish, gutless cowards who are willing to sacrifice your fellow Americans’ freedoms so that you can feel a little safer. Pathetic.


  25. I’m glad to hear that you are following up with the ACLU. I hope there is a positive outcome. We blogged your story.


  26. I’m very sorry for your bad treatment, it does seem like racial profiling. which is inexcusable. On the other hand, I travel a lot, and welcome extreme inspection of myself and others to keep us safe. If women had bombed so many planes, I would expect to be profiled. I have little patience with people who are “outraged” over this, though it is unfortunate. I even looked at a poor little puppy suspiciously the other day, because I have a pretty good imagination, and thought, that planting a bomb in the little thing would be one idea. Sorry, folks. It’s a cruel world.

  27. Tricia

     /  September 19, 2011

    @amy fitzgerald: She was not “with two suspicious characters.” She was sitting between two men of Indian descent, neither of whom knew each other or her, one of whom got airsick. That is (part of) the problem: Three sorta-dark-skinned people in a row shouldn’t be suspicious. And it can’t be suspicious if we’re going to successfully do the real work of keeping ourselves safe. Not only was what happened on that plane an outrage, it was a waste of time and very likely counterproductive.

    Otherwise: Everything Donna Miller said.

  28. Eve

     /  January 26, 2012

    My God, your story is horrifying. A strip search is a deliberately punitive form
    of sexual assault against an uncharged person. Has your story been picked
    up by the national news media? Please tell us that you are suing the crap out
    of the airline and various levels of jackboot thugs. It is beyond appalling that
    the nitwit authorities made no attempt to evaluate the rumors against you and
    rained down a full SWAT team action on your head. What did your Congress
    Reps have to say about this debacle? I am stunned by the few Constitutional
    Illiterates who found your story and stupidly opined that your arrest and detention were no big deal. You could have easily been injured or killed in
    custody, maced or pepper-sprayed for resisting the assaultive search or
    talking back. I realize that you were in shock, but I agree that you should not
    have given your personal details and should have demanded a lawyer.


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