Israeli Arab journalist switches airline after ‘humiliating’ El Al security check
Nazareth-based women’s magazine editor Yara Mashour tells Haaretz she felt as if she was ‘raped’ by airport security agents in Milan airport.
In December 2001, Richard Reid, a British Muslim, flying from Paris to Miami, attempted to set off explosives concealed in his shoes. As result, all future passengers were obliged to remove their shoes for inspection at check in. (in America I think even to this day)
In August 2006, British police uncovered a plot by other British Muslims to blow up 10 aircraft using a sophisticated mixture of liquid chemicals. Immediately people were prevented from taking liquids on board – even the mineral water they had just purchased in the airport was confiscated. (It happened to me)
In December 2009 (on Christmas Day!), Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian Muslim, on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, attempted to detonate explosives concealed in his underwear. Surprisingly, in this case, the agencies did not respond with a demand that passengers submit to an inspection of their underwear – while they were still wearing it! On the other hand, external body “patting down” became more intrusive, giving rise to the phenomenon known as ” Groin Groping” by the security staff.
The Israeli system operates from a different perspective – more psychological than physical. Much reliance is placed on intelligence, meaning advance knowledge of as many personal details of each passenger as possible. Also there are many “rings of observation and studies of the individual” starting from the moment of entering the terminal to the moment of being seated on the plane. And, after that, there are still the Sky Marshals travelling on every flight.
In May 2008, the US Department of Homeland Security announced that it would adopt many of the Israeli measures. A number of US domestic airports have already done so – but they are still hung up on the profiling issue.
The fact is that no plane departing from Ben Gurion Airport has ever been hijacked. The attack inside the terminal in 1972 by Japanese terrorists which killed 24 people, and the attack in 1985 on the EL AL ticket counters in Rome and Vienna Airports which killed 19, led to an upgrade and rethinking by Israeli security agencies. Who knows how many other attempts have been thwarted by the application of procedures that unashamedly include profiling?
And the complaint that Israelis don’t suffer in the same way is not totally true, although the degree might be different. Maybe it’s because I’m a “New Immigrant” (of 25 years and counting) but I still get hassled almost every week by security when I’m flying domestically. Only last week in Eilat airport – after my (Israeli!) ID card had been taken to a supervisor for inspection, and the details checked against his handheld computer, was I given an ultimatum by the young officer checking me. If I would not agree to have my small hand luggage checked in for storage in the hold of the plane, it would have to be opened. For me this was no problem, and certainly better than waiting at the baggage carousel in Tel Aviv. Thus it was subject to a chemical inspection and the contents displayed for all who might be interested. This after the regular plethora of questions about who packed the bag, did anyone give me anything to deliver, was it all my own stuff, where had it been since I packed it, did I understand why I was being asked these questions etc.
Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that my Hebrew is still so bad. But it does seem to contradict everything that I have said, and believe, about profiling. After all, I’m a grandfather with a son and a daughter and grandchildren all living in Israel. My daughter is even in the Air Force!
Maybe the profile now includes Anglo-Saxon septuagenarians? Who knows?
One benefit of not being in the first flush of youth is that I can still remember the days when there was no such thing as airport security. I suspect that not too many people have had the experience of just turning up at the airport and getting on a plane, as if it were a bus. No hassle, no questions. no three hour pre-checkin time. Can you believe that life was once like that?
Those were the days before ” the cousins” created the hijacking threat. They have much to answer for!
Andyboy – Telling it as it is!
- Why We Hate Airport Security (psychologytoday.com)