[update below] [2nd update below] [3rd update below] [4th update below] [5th update below]
For those who didn’t go onto my blog this past weekend, I had two posts on the practices of the French internal security apparatus, one on the scandalous ethnic-racial profiling by the police. France is, of course, not the only state where this sort of profiling—and the inevitable abuses that ensue—occur. Now I read this account by two young American professionals (one in finance, the other an architect), Sasha Al-Sarabi and Najwa Doughman (above photo), of their recent humiliating interrogation at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport, overnight detention in a fetid facility, and deportation from Israel, and for no other reason than they were of Arab origin and the security personnel at BGA simply didn’t feel like admitting them into the country. I have already written on the subject of the interrogation gauntlet at Israeli ports of entry (here and here), with the humiliations involved and the arbitrary deportations—and which happen daily—, so won’t do so again, except to repeat that it is simply outrageous and utterly unjustified. The interrogation methods could be justified if security were genuinely the purpose, but it is manifestly not. Now I happen not to be a fan of the website where the account was published, BTW, mais peu importe (and the authors are not otherwise associated with the site). The account should be read by anyone who has the slightest sympathy for Israel. And if one wishes to justify the behavior of the BGA security personnel toward these women, please do so. Give it a shot.
An assertion: no Jew would ever be subjected to such treatment at an Arab port of entry and on account of his or her Jewishness. If one wishes to dispute what I say here, please provide a recent example or two.
Israel does not have a monopoly on such behavior by agents at ports of entry, of course. The United States is also a big offender. I will have something on this soon.
ADDENDUM: A question: are the secondary interrogations at BGA carried out by agents of the Israeli state or a private security company? If the latter, this could explain a good part of the problem. The Israeli state—like the American and others—has outsourced many security functions—e.g. the manning of West Bank checkpoints—to private contractors, who are both overzealous and unaccountable (on the subject, see here). For the anecdote, on my first visit to Israel, in the pre-Intifada 1980s—and before anyone had ever heard about regalian functions of the state being outsourced to private contractors—, I entered via the Allenby Bridge from Jordan, a then enemy state of Israel. Several days before, I had been in Syria, an even bigger enemy state. I was asked no questions about where I had been, why I had been there, with whom I had met, etc, etc (and in view of my name and appearance, it could have been assumed that I was of Middle Eastern or some other suspect origin). The agents who inspected my baggage were friendly enough. I even joked with one. I don’t think I would joke nowadays.
UPDATE: I have a few links from Haaretz from last September, of a spat between Israel and Turkey over the humiliating treatment of Turkish citizens at BGA and the tit-for-tat Turkish response, targeting Israelis at Istanbul airport (see here, here, here, and here). The Israeli foreign ministry admitted that Turks were routinely humiliated when arriving in Israel and Haaretz editorialized that “perhaps Israelis need humiliation to respect others.” One thing’s for sure: when it comes to stuff like this, one should not mess around with the Turks.
2nd UPDATE: AP has a report, “Israel asks Arab visitors to open emails to search.” (June 5)
3rd UPDATE: Amira Hass reports that the agents who interrogated Sasha and Najwa at BGA were from Shin Bet. (June 5)
4th UPDATE: Amira Hass has a report on how a “U.S. couple with Jewish roots didn’t expect El Al’s inquisition.” (January 13, 2013)
5th UPDATE: Palestinian/Israeli citizen Zizo Abul Hawa, who works (in IT) and lives in Tel Aviv, recounts the “[a]irport security questions and discrimination” he experienced at BG Airport. (September 20, 2015)