This holiday season, U.S. airline passengers are suffering more from weather disruptions than any inconveniences the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was supposed to be inflicting on them in the form of full body scans and intrusive pat-downs.
But while security lines at most U.S. airports seem to be running far more smoothly than the dire predictions of a month ago, there’s a growing chorus supporting the adoption of the much different procedures Israel employs to screen its airline passengers. Here’s a quick look at the current debate over this so-called ‘Israelification’ of U.S. airport security.
For a thorough and generally favorable summary of Israelification, we turn to a Toronto Star piece that appeared one year ago today. As described in the article, the Israeli process boils down to a series of some half-dozen security layers that begin on airport access roads: “All drivers are stopped and asked two questions: How are you? Where are you coming from? ...Officers are looking for nervousness or other signs of ‘distress’ – (behavioral) profiling.”
The next few layers are also focused on pinpointing odd behavior, and only thereafter does the metals and explosives detection process begin; in short, it’s “a system that protects life and limb without annoying you to death.”
So why not introduce a form of Israelification to stateside airports? “Stupid idea,” says a November 24th post at the Tikun Olam blog. It notes that, contrary to the claims of some officials quoted in the Star article, there is in fact a heavy dose of racial profiling involved in the Israeli airport screening process.
A Washington Post opinion piece published on the same day notes that “Israel has just two airports and 50 flights a day, and …its thorough security process could never be scaled up for the hundreds of airports and thousands of daily flights in the United States.”
The Post writer also makes pretty much the same political point as the Tikun Olam blogger: “[F]or all its vaunted sophistication, Israel’s approach boils down to a lot of profiling and political intrusion. …If Americans adopt Israel’s approach to security, they should be prepared for racial and ethnic profiling, questions about their religious preferences, and careful examination of their reading material. Maybe full-body scans are a less intrusive after all.”
(Photo of Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport security checkpoint courtesy of Hi-Tech Solutions)
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