27.11.10

Air security. Israeli model. Good? Bad?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/26/AR2010112603025.html
"Taking the bottle of water from the 87-year-old woman at JFK, you will never find an explosive material that is coming from bin Laden," 
"I know personally of people who came to Israel for a conference and were asked if they had met an Arab. After that, they were stripped and their laptop was confiscated," said Ariel Merari, a terrorism expert at Tel Aviv University
Not cool. Profiling works - but do you really want everyone who could conceivably be an Arab or Muslim to face extra searches and pat-downs while all the white people with European-heritage-sounding names go through with no problems? 
"The security here is far more professional," said Sandy Kornhauser, who arrived with her daughter at Ben Gurion from Philadelphia on Wednesday to attend a wedding.
Really? I'm guessing you're white and look like just another regular Philadelphia person. I'm guessing you're okay with racial profiling. (I am too, to some degree, but these guys take it a bit far. And they're VERY good at it.) 
 ...Donna Shalala, a 69-year-old American of Lebanese descent who was President Bill Clinton's secretary of health and human services and is now president of the University of Miami, was detained and questioned for 21/2 hours at Ben Gurion in July. The Israeli news media said she was subject to a humiliating security debriefing because of her Arab last name.
...Heather Bradshaw, an Indiana University professor, was subjected to a body search and forced to turn over her bra to authorities as she tried to board an El Al flight from Britain's London Luton Airport to Tel Aviv to attend an academic conference. All her belongings except her passport and credit cards were taken from her before she was allowed to board. She got them back three days later 
 "They began with my hair, even though it is only two centimeters long. They began feeling through it, then examining behind my ears, the neck, the shoulders. They began feeling me under my bra, and then continued on to my tummy. I felt as though I was under a sexual assault," Hunaida Ghanem, an Israeli Arab resident of Jerusalem who has a PhD from Hebrew University in sociology and a postdoctoral degree from Harvard, said as she recalled an incident at the airport in June 2009.
"I have been through searches in the U.S. But what they did here was very different. It was very humiliating," she added.
Since then, Ghanem has declined six invitations to attend conferences abroad, saying she finds it emotionally difficult to go to the airport.
Israeli civil rights organizations have repeatedly appealed to Israel's High Court of Justice to end the alleged discrimination against Israel's Arab citizens. 
"If you are a Jew, you can celebrate your journey. You can go to the duty-free," said Amnon Be'eri, co-executive director of the Abraham Fund, an organization that works to advance coexistence between Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs. "If you are an Arab, you are discriminated against, separated, humiliated."

Israeli security services are VERY good at the things they do. They also have no problems discriminating against Arabs and non-white/non-Jewish/non-mainstream looking people. I have a bit of a problem with that. I was born and raised in Sweden and my skin is light brown (you'd call me White - I'd call me "Scandinavian" thankyouverymuch) and my family is relatively middle-class. College educations galore, all that. Ok, we were upper middle class sometimes while I grew up. I still have student loans. ENLISTED in the Navy for ten plus years.

But I really don't think we want our country to only be about doing what's good for the white majority. I think if we want to search and figure out if the 87-year-old Arab woman in bulky clothing is carrying something for her grandson's friend who managed to get her onto the plane - then we also have to be equally careful with the little old lady from Pasadena who's an 87-year-old grandmother and smuggling cocaine that she doesn't know about. We simply CANNOT give anyone a free pass. Or really nasty people will figure out that "Hey - they never check the old ladies. Sedate grandma, put her in a wheelchair and stick some PETN between her legs."

But I guess most nice people who are all up in arms about new security procedures aren't capable of thinking of such awful scenarios. I can. I guess that makes me a bad person.

I'm also guessing that Israeli airport security has a lot less volume than American airports - and the people at these airports are maybe less likely to be something nasty or evil that's not Muslim terror. Our threat picture is wider, is different. And we still believe in an American Dream, while you're running some sort of semi-apartheid show where you keep the Israeli Arabs in the not-so-good schools and refuse to let some of them back to the land they fled from in 1947 or 1967 - and where you keep the rest of the undesirables in ghettoes like Gaza or pretend to be fine with letting them running their own affairs in the West Bank.

So I'm fairly fine with the Israelis running their own racial profiling show. Works for them, except for the part where they piss off 20-25% of their population. I don't think it's something we should be interested in, no matter how much it would benefit the people who look like Dick Cheney etc.


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