Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Americans want Israeli style security, but ...

So there has been much wailing and moaning in the American media lately about the new security guidelines set by TSA. If you aren't familiar with them you should look up Jeffrey Goldberg's excellent series of posts about the new search procedure (the posts come with the added bonus of finding out what Goldblog calls his balls).

One of the interesting stories to come out of this debate is that many Americans now want Israeli style security. I assume by this most people mean some form of profiling. I find it odd that this is the solution most Americans want considering how much critisicm Israel recievies regarding it's various air travel security procedures.

This phenomon lead to the head-spinning situation on Ynet recently in which this story, 'I may never return to Israel', in which a young Australian woman complains about her treatment by El Al security personnel, was followed just one day later by this, Americans want 'Israeli' airport security.

I don't think most Americans appreciate just how personal and unnerving it can be to go through an Israeli airport security check. They ask all kinds of surprising questions, and you really have to stop and think about the answers.

I remember that even after living here for a year, going through this check made me ask myself whether I had been secretly planning terrorist activities.

I also wonder whether there is a too large number of Americans who think that Israeli security profiling is based solely on race or ethnicity. I imagine there are a few Americans who think only brown-skinned people with Arab or Muslim sounding names get interviewed.

It doesn't work that way. There are all kinds of things that go into the profiling, not that I know most of them, but I don't think most Americans will feel comfortable being asked about their background, their childhood or education, or, G-d forbid, their religion.

I'm sure some changes will be made to the security system in the states, but I don't think it will look very Israeli in the future.

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