Monday, September 05, 2011

Racial Profiling at Israeli Airports

Israelis who landed in Turkey today were treated to humiliating strip searches in the name of security. Was it retaliation for Israel's refusal to apologize for the nine deaths on the Mavi Marmara? Maybe, who knows. To be honest, I don't really care. What I do care about is the Turks' claim that "the Israelis started it", by harassing Turks at Ben-Gurion Airport, usually on their way out.

As much as I hate to say it, Turkey is right. Contrary to popular belief, Israeli airport security doesn't only use psychological profiling, it also uses racial profiling. The Israeli Supreme Court recently instructed the Israeli Port Authority to stop sending Arab citizens of Israel to a separate security line, where they are inspected much more thoroughly. I don't think this has been implemented yet, and even if it has, it does not apply to non-citizens.

Israeli security routinely humiliates Arab and Muslim passengers. They claim it needs to be done, but that can't be true. Questioning every Muslim passenger for hours can't be an efficient tactic. Strip searching people with no actual reason to suspect terrorist activity is just wrong. I don't remember ever hearing of a planned airplane bombing being derailed in Israel by a cavity search.

The situation has gotten so bad that the Foreign Ministry has tried several times to change these security policies, though unsuccessfully. They've said that it is both ineffective and damages Israel's reputation. Even Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has criticized these measures. Believe me, if Liebrman thinks airport security's handling of Arabs and other Muslims is excessive, that means something!

I'm no fool. I don't want to get blown up while on a flight. I want all threats to be intercepted on the ground. I just don't think the mistreatment of entire "suspicious groups" helps security in any way.

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