68 thoughts on “Praying Orthodox Teenager Guilty of Flying While Jewish – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. We are not ALL afraid of terrorism, Richard. The probablility of being harmed by a terrorist is so low it isn’t even on my list of stuff to be afraid of.

  2. People think that “flying while Arab” only began after 911 when this is simply not the case. In 1989 when my Arab-American daughter was only 11 years old she experienced her first “flying while Arab” incident. She was flying from Marbella–Madrid–LAX as an accompanied minor.
    She had purchased some Spanish pottery for me which was packed by her grandmother in a cardboard box which had Arabic writing on it. As I stood at the gate waiting for her to come out, all the other passengers had already cleared immigrations/customs. It was the first time she had flown overseas alone, to visit her father’s side of the family. After waiting and waiting and WAITING she finally emerged with the stewardess. She had been crying and the stewardess was extremely apologetic. Every single inch of her luggage had been searched and she had been questioned. She was ELEVEN years old! Please don’t tell me this is only since 911. Sure it is much worse now, but this phenomena has been going on much longer than what non-Arabs/non-Muslims are aware who may now say it is a necessity. I kept my prior married name as my middle name with pride and love. It is her name also, NO ONE is going to tell me I should abandon that name because it could cause me trouble or raised eyebrows. NO ONE. It is WRONG what is done to all Middle Eastern travelers, WRONG. And it is just plain WRONG to cast suspicion on all Arabs and Muslims in every day life as well!

    1. Robin, I can attest to what you said. Well before 9/11 happened I was regularly “randomly selected” for extra scrutiny far, far more frequently than probability would lead one to expect. One year, for example, out of twelve flights I was “randomly selected” ten times. It wasn’t nearly as intrusive, or humiliating as it is now. No one yelled out “female possible!” – – possible WHAT?! – as they do now, took all my belongings into a separate area and made me stand inside a clear plexiglass box for all to stare at like an animal in a zoo, but it got really old really fast, and I had trouble hiding my resentment.

      What made it even more suspicious is that my physical appearance, manner of dress, speech, etc., is very western and non-Middle-Eastern in any stereotypic way – people, especially Americans, assume I am American or European (interestingly, it’s a bit different in the Middle East, depending partly on which country I am in – in Syria shopkeepers in the suq nearly always assume I am a western tourist and try to overcharge me for stuff I don’t even want, yet on the other hand I regularly have Syrians and tourists from Arab countries approach me on the street asking for information or directions to this or that place – not sure what that is about).

      Nowadays, I know ahead of time if I am a “female possible” because there will be a code on my boarding pass, which means they have “randomly selected” me in advance.

  3. “When are people in the US going to wake up to the fact that there are no Orthodox Jewish terrorists? In fact, there are no Jewish terrorists and no Christian terrorists and no atheist terrorists. Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all the terrorists are Muslims.”

    Please see:


    I just love the “not all Muslims are terrorists” line. It’s the logical equivalent of saying “not all blacks are backward” or “not all Jews are stingy”. Only one of the lines is acceptable though. Bigotry against Muslims is sadly permissible and most do not even notice they’re engaging in racism and prejudice.

    1. Ikasu, no Orthodox Jewish or Christian terrorists? Are you some kind of stand-up comedian? I would suggest that the chief difference between your two groups – Muslim vs Jewish/Christian terrorists – is that the latter exercise their brand of terrorism more openly and proudly.

  4. “…… all terrorists are Muslim.” Except when they are Israelis or Americans. When Allah and Jesus and Yaweh count up the scores, you can bet the Americans will win hands down.

  5. When I heard about this story last night I was amused not outraged. The flight attendants did the right thing, from their point of view. Not everyone should be expected to know what tefillin are.
    How this argues against profiling, though, is a mystery to me.
    Let me know how the organized Jewish community reacts to this. Are they going to sue the airlines like in the case of the flying Imams.

    1. The Imams were absolutely justified in suing the airline. They did nothing wrong, and yet they were defamed, humiliated, denied the right to travel on the flight they had paid for, and denied adequate compensation. By the same token, Ra’ed Jarrar, an Iraqi young man who was denied the right to board a plane wearing a Tshirt with both English and Arabic writing on it, was absolutely justified in suing the airline, and I hope he enjoys the quarter million dollars he got from them.

      And I hope that Jewish young man insists upon being compensated for the services that were denied him, and for what he was put through for doing exactly nothing wrong.

      1. I do too. This whole terrorism thing is getting way out of hand. We can’t make a world where we live in perfect safety, especially when US policies are what drives much of the terrorism in the world and the US continues to refuse to believe it.

        I’m with you, Shirin. I’m not afraid of terrorism; never have been. The chances of my experiencing an act of terrorism on an airplane are infinitesimally less than getting hit by a car while walking down the street.

        I feel very bad for this young man and his experience, but I think it is hypocritical for these rabbis and others to be resentful because the boy isn’t a Muslim. It isn’t as though only Muslims “deserve” to be treated as terrorists just because they are Muslims. In a previous article of Richard’s where we were discussing Dov Hikind, I pointed out to another commenter that Hikind is a champion of racial profiling, so long as the race or group isn’t Jewish.

        I guess what I really want to say is, if you want to be part of the fearmongering crowd, be prepared to accept the consequences of it. Anyone who dresses funny, has a funny name or dark skin or prays before takeoff will be suspicious, even if it’s you.

        1. We can’t make a world where we live in perfect safety

          Never mind being unable to accomplish this, even trying tends to create a world that won’t be worth the effort. That’s no less true today as in Ben Franklin’s days.

          Incidentally, here’s a healthy dose of sanity (remember sanity?), from an airline pilot, no less:
          A traveller had accidentally opened an emergency exit at Kennedy airport, and the authorities acted as if Genghis Khan was at the gates.

          “As a result of the defendant’s actions, thousands of people were required to evacuate and to be rescreened by TSA, causing substantial delays in the airlines’ schedules,” District Attorney Richard Browne said in a statement.

          No, I’m sorry, Mr. District Attorney, but that’s not it. What caused the delays and what hassled so many travelers was not the defendant’s actions, but our mindless and hysterical response to them.

          Would it be asking too much to hear such insightful words from Chautauqua Airlines, perhaps even the TSA?

          I guess what I really want to say is, if you want to be part of the fearmongering crowd, be prepared to accept the consequences of it.

          If that was all there was to it, I’d agree, let them sizzle in their own broth, but the fear-mongers are letting everyone else suffer the consequences, and I’m not fine with that.

          1. What caused the delays and what hassled so many travelers was not the defendant’s actions, but our mindless and hysterical response to them.

            Hard to imagine how anyone could have said it more clearly or eloquently.

            On a similar note look at the latest efforts to make driving in the U.S. 100% safe. They want distraction-free driving, which is impossible to achieve even if you encase the driver in an isolation booth with no ability to converse with passengers, listen to the radio/music/audio books, etc. Furthermore, no experienced driver gives driving his undivided attention any more than anyone gives undivided attention to a routine task, and if you remove all other stimuli for drivers you are guaranteed to see an increase in accidents, not a decrease.

            This American passion for perfect safety and absolute security is leading toward and increasingly insane society.

          2. It’s still the 9/11 aftermath, and it’s fed almost everyday by the government’s insistence on calling everything terrorism-related. Nidal Hassan, who is nothing more than a garden variety lunatic, was labeled a terrorist because he is a Muslim. The ridiculous “underpants bombing” incident was, and is, still referred to as an “attack.” What attack?? Who was attacked except for the hapless idiot who simply set himself on fire?

            I agree, this nonsense is making travel a pain in the butt, and it’s incredibly ridiculous. People jump at shadows, but the worst thing is that our government uses it to control us and persuade us to allow them to continue to filch our civil liberties. America has to grow up and stop wanting Daddy Bush, or Daddy Obama, to make everything OK by regulating air travel to death.

            Once American foreign policy changes for the better, terrorism will be irrelevant. Remember Betty Thomas asking the famous, “Why?” and Obama would not answer her.

          3. Maybe I am venturing into conspiracy theory territory a bit here, but I have the feeling that to a significant degree 9/11 is little more than an excuse – a way to justify all this bull****.

          4. Yes, Shirin, I think of it as the 9/11 industry. It spawned a whole culture of fear, and it was exploited to change the way we live and the way we think. It defies logic, that a powerful country like the US effectively allows itself to be enslaved by its own fear, namely its fear of a handful of radicals who are motivated to violence by – guess what – American foreign policy.

            As a result of 9/11 we are afraid of everybody; a kid praying on a plane while wearing religious garb becomes, in our gibbering terror, a fanatic about to blow up the plane. A month ago, a bumbling al Qaeda wannabe set his undershorts on fire. This was actually called an “attack” by the news media and the White House. Mothers are forced to empty baby bottles for fear of liquid explosives. People are made to take off their shoes and subject themselves to being scanned by machines which effectively strip them naked. Muslims are routinely interrogated by airline officials, their belongings rifled, their bodies searched. Border guards shoot laptop computers. What is worst is that about a million people have had their names added to some bizarre “no-fly list” and they don’t even know why.

            The purpose is not to actually catch would-be terrorists; how could anyone be so naiive as to believe that? The real intention is intimidation; it is the penultimate of crowd control, managing the behavior of large numbers of people.

    2. Terrorists also do the right thing, from their point of view, but that’s usually not an acceptable excuse.
      Certainly everyone is entitled to ignorance about this or that religious or cultural gadget or behaviour, such as tefillim, turbans, or praying. The translation of ignorance into fear is perhaps even a natural trait of humans, as well as other animals. The problem is that nowadays in the oh-so-educated-and-cultivated West it has become quasi-official policy, with full complicity by the media, to let that fear get the better of one’s senses, and to let the object of one’s fear suffer for one’s own shortcomings. Besides those who obviously profit from such an attitude in a clientele, like the yellow press, governments and the “security” industry, it’s basically an atavistic, reactionary rejection of openness of culture, and hence of living culture altogether.

    3. PS Amir, your suggestion that the flight crew did the right thing because they couldn’t be expected to know what a tefillin is is kind of bizarre. You don’t need to know what a tefillin is to reason out that someone who attaches a small box to his head with leather strips, and wraps some leather straps around his arm in full view of you and anyone else nearby is probably not a terrorist planning to use that small box to blow up the plane. The behaviour might seem a bit weird, but no one who is thinking rationally would see it as a threatening act that justifies turning the bloody plane around. A rational person might actually ask him what the object is, why he has attached it to his head, and since it is a box, might ask him what is inside it. To assume that someone who is so openly engaging in behaviour not commonly seen by most people is a terrorist about to blow up the plane is quite simply mindlessly overwrought and hysterical.

      1. PS Oh yeah, apparently they DID ask him, he DID explain, and they treated him like a terrorist anyway (were there no other Jews on board who could corroborate his story?!). Well, that kind of puts to rest any possibility that we are dealing with anything but an overwrought hysteria.

      2. Not to mention that when the attendant asked the boy what he was doing he told her: “I’m praying.” Yet she still reported her suspicions to the pilot. I think it shows how completely insular Americans are that they know nothing about the cultures/religions of others who live among them whether they be Jews or Muslims.

        1. And since when does someone praying on a plane a reason to turn it around and treat the person as a terrorist. Would they do that if a Catholic whipped out a rosary and started praying that way?

          1. For a country that prides itself on its “diversity,” and its “tolerance,” it seems the US is pretty danged ignorant and insulated from the world. Non-Americans notice this about us, and recently I have had one or two people comment to me about it. A young Palestinian said to me, “you’re so afraid of everybody because you don’t want to know about us. You want us to know about you, though.” In schools all over the world, for example, students are taught English, French, German and other languages, but in the US, do we care to equip our young people with the skill of being multilingual, and do we focus on teaching them about other cultures and religions? No, not really. Spanish is taught, but if a school wishes to teach, say, Arabic, they’re risking being shut down by people like Dov Hikind.

            Really, it’s quite puzzling. We have 3 or 4 million Jews in the US; why don’t people know about Judaism? And there are about 5 or 6 million Muslims; why don’t they know about Islam?

  6. This is ridiculous. Every single one of my orthodox friends thought this was hilarious, not outrageous.

    And let me amend the above statement so that it’s true:

    “Not all Muslims are terrorists, but virtually all terrorists targeting the U.S. are Muslim.”

    The right to life trumps the rights to privacy, dignity, etc. (If you don’t believe that, then you suffer from serious confusion.) Hence, profiling is absolutely justified. You want to discuss its efficacy, along with the efficacy of the rest of security theater? Fine, but if we accept its efficacy, then we must accept its justification. Unless, again, you prefer your privacy to your life.

    Perhaps the reason the Jews are able to laugh about this, while Muslims won’t, is that the Jews are willing to acknowledge and accept their uprootedness and apartness while Muslim Americans seek assimilation. Jews don’t expect anyone else to know what those black boxes are, and are able to laugh about it after the fact.

    1. virtually all terrorists targeting the U.S. are Muslim

      Have you heard of Timothy McVeigh, Theodore Kaczynski (Unabomber), EarthFirst, Alan Rudolph (abortion dr. murders). I could go on. Would you care to amend that statement (cf. lie)?

    2. Perhaps the reason the Jews are able to laugh about this, while Muslims won’t, is that the Jews are willing to acknowledge and accept their uprootedness and apartness while Muslim Americans seek assimilation.,/i>”

      I’ll bet you have absolutely NO IDEA why that is so hilarious!

    3. PS Shira, my simple-minded friend, the reasons it is so hilarious are far too multilayered for you to even be capable of contemplating, let alone comprehending.

  7. I Suggest we make two alternative airport and airline systems. One without security and one with. Each traveler can choose which system he flies on.

  8. Sanity check.

    Our chances of being hurt by a terrorist on a plane are low PRECISELY because there is airport security. Among other things, there was this incident on 9/11/01. I’m glad Shirin did not suffer any losses in the attack. My wife and I did. Among them was a Hindu secretary from South America, a young woman not yet 30, who had worked with my wife on the 100th floor of WTC tower 2. My wife had quit the job 6 weeks before the attack. Did this delightful, wonderful young woman deserve to die because someone disagreed with American actions? She wasn’t even an American citizen!

    That said, all that security can do is make it harder for terrorists. The illusion of perfect safety is… an illusion.

    Profiling has no effect on safety. If one racial/ethnic type is singled out, the terrorists will use another. Either the TSA is dumb, or there is a deliberate policy to profile people who look Middle-Eastern to enhance the illusion of perfect safety. Despicable.

    The Jewish community seems to have adopted an attitude of bemusement rather than outrage over the tefillin incident. See article in NYT for instance. Left unsaid is an inconvenient truth: Cabin attendants on commuter flights typically are paid less than $20,000 a year. For that, do not expect mature cultural sensitivity.

    And Mary, the underpants bomber ATTACKED. Just because the attack was unsuccessful, it is illogical for you to repeatedly call it anything else — at least on this planet.

    1. steve, if you think that another 9/11 hasn’t happened because we put our shampoo and toothpaste in little plastic bags and take off our shoes, you really are living in another world, courtesy of the “war on terror.”

      Nobody said there shouldn’t be airport security. But when does it end? We’re so damned hysterical that we freak out when there are Muslims on the plane or when we see a Jewish kid praying in his seat? When a whole airport is shut down because someone walks through the wrong door?

      No, steve, the skivvies bomber didn’t attack. To use that word to describe his pathetic attempt to be infamous is beyond logic. How about “attempted suicide bombing,” why the imprecise and misleading, hysterically used word “attack”? I think the word “attack” is illogical and a misnomer.

      I don’t think the annual salaries of flight attendants has anything to do with their “insensitivity.” It is up to the airlines to train their people in cultural sensitivity with as much care as they train them to spot, ahem, terrorists.

      1. Mary: When you’re flying in a couple of thousand tons of steel through the air at 600 mph & a man lights a fire that could potentially have ignited an explosive device, that’s a very serious matter in my opinion. I wouldn’t minimize the threat to these peoples’ lives fr. that incident. Besides, if this guy failed in his attempt those who want to harm us will learn fr that & the next guy they send may not do wrong whatever this guy did & that plane on which you or I could be flying might be brought down.

        1. I agree with you, Richard. But I noticed the hysterical language of the press and its application here. The word “attack” brings back memories of 9/11; it is a very effective buzzword. The more logical, and accurate, way of describing the underwear bomber incident is, IMHO, “attempted detonation of an incendiary device strapped to his body.”

          He did fail in his attempt. My point is not to say we should be cavalier about airline safety. Please don’t misunderstand me. But I perceive the word “attack” as hysterical and overwrought language. Of course, we need to protect ourselves against “those who want to harm us,” but feeding people’s fear is not the way to do it. The point is, it seems the media spin on this latest “attack” seems to be having its intended effect, and that there is as much “terror” generated by the spin as by the would-be “attacker.”

          Unless the US changes its policies in the middle east, we’re going to be endlessly trying to fight off these extremists. The airline industry will slowly collapse (it’s well on its way), people are going to be too frightened to even board a bus. At this rate, all people will soon be strip searched and will have to undergo a background check before they can even set foot in an airport.

    2. Steve, if you think you are safer because nice, fashionable women like me regularly get loudly called out as “female possibles” and are made to stand in clear plexiglass cages in front of their fellow passengers, young men are not allowed to board their plane because they have Arabic writing on their t-shirts, or holy men get dragged out of planes in handcuffs because they quietly prayed before their flight, and then – horror of horrors – sat together, or because an entire airport is shut down for hours when some poor, love-struck young schmuck goes in the out door, then you are welcome to your delusions. If you think reacting to an inept terrorist wannabe who couldn’t do more than catch his own pants on fire by forcing passengers to spend the last hour of every flight cold, bored stiff, and fighting off the urgent need to urinate because the line for the “last bathroom call” got cut off before they could get in there, then be my guest. But tell me, Steve, how many actual – you know – terrorists have they actually caught by putting passengers through all this bullshit?

      And please do yourself a favour, and keep your assumptions about my personal life out of your comments. You don’t know whether I lost anyone on September 11. You don’t have the remotest idea how many people I have lost, under what circumstances, or what their relationship was to me, or how I have reacted to it, and you have absolutely no right make assumptions and then try to throw them in my face. In addition to your usual very poor reasoning, now you have managed to thoroughly piss me off. Just keep me out of your comments.

      And goody for the Jewish community for reacting with bemusement rather than outrage. I wonder how long that would last if were regularly put through what Muslims and Arabs are put through. I’m betting they’d be shreying anti-semitism, predicting the next coming of Hitler, and demanding an international commission of inquiry if they had to put up with 1% of what the Arab and Muslim communities do. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t speak too soon if I were you, Steve. Abe Foxman hasn’t really had time to come out with his usual hysteria yet, so I’d give it few days before I got too cocky.

        1. I acknowledged that later on. However, that does not make up for his offensive comment regarding the death of his wife’s young co-worker, nor his making assumptions about me and then trying to throw them in my face. Both of those are quite egregious.

    3. PS Steve, I feel kind of wrong about the fact that I did not acknowledge that you spoke out against profiling, although I do not agree completely with your stated reason for being against it. You also quite rationally agreed that the American persuit of perfect safety makes no sense. So, my apologies for those oversights. As for whether the undies bomber incident qualifies as an attack, that is something about which reasonable people can reasonably disagree. I found that the media, government, and public’s reaction has been generally overwrought and hysterical, but in all honesty it disturbs me far less that the hyped-up, trumped-up reaction over the shooting at the military base, which looks clearly like a standard case of someone “going postal” and far from a terrorist attack.

      I also, however, failed to call you on your nonsense about how your wife’s lovely young co-worker did not deserve to die because someone disagreed with U.S. policy, which was part of what pissed me off right from the beginning. Are you f****** KIDDING us? From what part of your anatomy did you pull the notion that that was a necessary, or even an appropriate thing to say to anyone here? Who here has ever tried to suggest that anyone who died on September 11 deserved it for any reason at all? That, combined with your stupid attempt to bring my personal life into the discussion still has me thoroughly pissed off, and frankly, I think you owe us all an apology.

      1. GAWD! I can’t believe I misspelled pursuit, of all words. That should teach me to proofread BEFORE I post, but it won’t!

        1. Shirin, I do owe you an apology on the 9/11 thing. I was responding to this:

          I’m not afraid of terrorism; never have been. The chances of my experiencing an act of terrorism on an airplane are infinitesimally less than getting hit by a car while walking down the street.

          But you didn’t say it, Mary did.

          I also write books on product safety and accidents. In my head, literally, is the fact that the chance of DYING in an act of terrorism involving aircraft (that is, in the plane or on the ground) is actually quite a bit greater than getting hit by a car while walking down the street.

          If you include CROSSING the street, in the US alone (I don’t have full international stats), the chance of experiencing an injury on the street is indeed much greater than DYING in a terrorist airplane attack. The chance of DYING as a pedestrian, in the atypical decade of 2000-2009 was roughly comparable. 9/11 skews the stats.

          It’s how we view the incident, though, and it has little or nothing to do with prejudice. The work of Peter Sandman and others, back in the 1970s and 80s, before airplane terrorism, shows that people are much more willing to accept what they consider “voluntary” risk — a random accident — than they are involuntary (terrorism, harmful chemicals in the environment, etc). In fact, the acceptance of voluntary risk is often 100-fold greater.

          Nader’s genius was in showing that many traffic deaths are due to the bad design of the car, or of intersections, and thus should not be considered voluntary at all. But perception is everything.

          1. For heaven’s sake, steve, really, how can you take my statement referring to a hypothetical and turn it into a major point? Ralph Nader and traffic deaths? Dying versus experiencing? Well, I guess that scares me!

            By the way, you have no right to assume that I did not know anyone who was in NYC on 9/11, and although your story about the young woman who died is tragic, it is not relevant. We should not base our opinions on how to fight terrorism on whether or not we personally experienced a loss on 9/11. No one here has ever said anyone who died on 9/11 deserved to die. No one. I don’t care whether you directed your comment to Shirin or to myself. I think there should be a rule saying that in discussions on terrorism, no such “I experienced a personal loss on 9/11, did you?” argument should be allowed. It’s the ultimate in strawman arguments, I think.

          2. Thanks for the “sort of” apology, Steve. However, let me be clear that I am not in the least afraid of terrorism, and never have been. It has nothing to do with any loss I may or may not have suffered as a result of 9/11 or any other attack, which, as I said, is my business not yours. One can lose someone one knows in a terrorist attack and still keep matters in perspective – lots of people have, though far too few. I am far more afraid of the overwrought, hysterical reaction that has led to the illogical conclusions that virtually anything, including standard acts of civil disobedience, can be labeled as terrorism and prosecuted as such, and that an incendiary device small enough to be concealed in a man’s underwear can be officially designated a “weapon of mass destruction” (it was a major stretch to label chemical and biological weapons as wmd’s, but this latest is downright Alice in Wonderlandish).

            And Steve, don’t try to play games with me by manipulating statistics. I am not that naive. I know what you were doing there, and it didn’t work. I am not afraid of terrorism, I have never been afraid of terrorism. There is a far greater probability of anyone, including me, being killed or physically harmed while going about their normal daily activities than of ever even encountering a terrorist. I am not afraid to go about my normal daily activities, so why should I be afraid of terrorism? It’s called going about one’s life rationally, aka using common sense.

          3. Thanks, Shirin, that was my point exactly. I’m not afraid of terrorism, never have been. I’m not going to accept the 9/11 thing as a valid argument, either. As I said, it is irrelevant. To bring it into a discussion as such implies an attitude that our focus should be on revenge or as knee-jerk reaction, not something based on common sense and rationality.

            What is more frightening to me than the possibility of being on a plane with a nutcase on board who will blow himself up because “he hates our freedoms” is that we become a society jumping at shadows. if we get on planes at all, it will be with sweaty palms, racing hearts and with our ignorance we will harm an innocent person. How far away was this Jewish boy from being assaulted or killed by hysterical passengers whispering to each other, “let’s roll!” Think about it.

  9. steve, if you think that another 9/11 hasn’t happened because we put our shampoo and toothpaste in little plastic bags and take off our shoes, you really are living in another world, courtesy of the “war on terror.”

    Mary, as usual, you distort and deliberately misrepresent what I say. I didn’t say that. I said that absolute safety is impossible but security helps. Grow up. Learn to read. Take an ethics course.

    Airlines SHOULD train their folks better, obviously. But that costs money and they don’t even pay decent wages.

    And on this planet, an “attempted suicide bombing” sounds like an attack to me, especially when dozens of others back in Yeman programmed the attacker… er… suicide bomber. It’s a distinction without a difference… and it is not what you said in the first place. In other words, you complain about my calling you out on your original comment, by amending your comment to say something you didn’t.

    Don’t worry. Say whatever you want now. I don’t have the time or energy to refute your childish silliness.

    1. Steve, the problem isn’t training, the problems is a a collective hysteria that is heavily encouraged by the government and the media, and that has rendered the American public devoid of all reason. What bomber is going to draw attention to himself by strapping a box on his head, for god’s sake? What moron sees a small leather box with leather straps and decides it’s a dangerous object with wires coming out of it? The captain decided to turn back the plane even AFTER the young man had explained that he was praying and what the tefillin was. If they had asked he could have opened it up and show them that all it contained was a few slips of paper. It’s not lack of training it’s abject stupidity.

      1. There are hundreds of flights in the US every day. Thousands of Jews have probably put tefillin on in airplanes in the last ten years, and to the best of my knowledge, this is the first time something like this has happened concerning tefillin. There were only 3 crew members, so I tend to cut them some slack.
        The fact is that the Muslim terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to bring down an airplane with explosives he hid in his underwear, the Muslim terrorist Richard Reid hid explosives in his shoe. It is not inconceivable that someone would hide explosives in tefillin, perhaps opening the box would detonate them.
        Finally, there is no such thing as “ethnic profiling”. It’s called profiling and it includes not just ethnicity and religion but also age, marittal status, gender AND is only one aspect of security. Alone, it would not work.

        1. It is not inconceivable that someone would hide explosives in tefillin, perhaps opening the box would detonate them.

          That’s a brilliant idea for Jack Teitel’s next act after he’s let off w. a slap on the wrist by the Shin Bet. He should book a flight on one of the Muslim nations’ airlines, whip out his tefillin, start davening away, & then light a fuse under his straps &—kaboom! What a lovely sight that will make w. Jack hurtling to earth along with the 200 or so Muslim fellow passengers. Then presto, we have a Jewish terror shahid, all in God’s name–Kidush Hashem as the extremist settlers would label it.

          there is no such thing as “ethnic profiling”

          It is commonly called “ethnic” or “racial profiling.” This also includes within it a form of religious profiling which Israel practices w. gusto & a vengeance.

        2. It is not inconceivable that someone would hide explosives in tefillin, perhaps opening the box would detonate them.

          Oh yeah! I can see the headlines now. “Terrorist ignites exploding tefillin, singes eyebrows</b?".

      2. What bomber is going to draw attention to himself by strapping a box on his head, for god’s sake?

        Don’t laugh, there are actually people who believe this is exactly what bombers do:

        “When they see a passenger strapping yourself,” said Isaac Abraham, a Satmar who lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and campaigned for the Democratic nomination for a City Council seat last year, “you might as well strap yourself with hand grenades. They have no idea.”

        Where’s Monty Python when you need them?

        The boy’s rabbi is dead wrong:

        “He didn’t think of the ramifications, I guess,” Rabbi Greenberg said. “You can’t expect the whole world to know what this ritual is all about.” (…) “I would suggest, pray on the plane and put the tefillin on later on,” he said. “Pray, and fulfill the ritual later.”

        No, rabbi, he shouldn’t have to think of the ramifications, not for a second. It’s simply not his or anyone’s duty to engage in self-censorship for the sake of some people’s paranoia.

        1. It’s simply not his or anyone’s duty to engage in self-censorship for the sake of some people’s paranoia.

          Absolutely. But common sense, which has been in very short supply for a long time, has just about gone the way of the dinosaur by now, and what is particularly appalling is that people have been flocking to volunarily turn their’s in in exchange for a kind of push-button mass hysteria.

    2. You’re not going to provoke me by using cute little words like “childish silliness” and by telling me to “grow up.” Your arguments have to be more effective than that, steve.

      I did not change anything in my arguments, and I don’t understand how I could amend my comment to say something I didn’t. Care to explain?

      People are going to differ in opinions on whether the undies bomber incident was an “attack.” If you can’t handle that, it isn’t my problem. I think Richard also disagrees with me on this issue, but I don’t see him calling my comments “childish nonsense.” My point is that I think the language used by the White House and the news media is deliberately overwrought and excessive; it is emotional language meant to provoke a fear response by the public.

      And it is very effective, which is actually the subject of this article – that a Jewish boy saying his prayers could trigger such hysteria tells us all so much about how effectively we’ve been terrified.

      My point is not that we shouldn’t be concerned about terrorism or that it does not exist; my point, like Shirin’s is that we need to be reasonable about it.

      I hope this clarifies my position a little bit. Kindly refrain from the personal attacks in the future.

  10. The threat of terrorism certainly has not kept me from traveling… I make on average two trips by air a month. I lectured in Abu Dhabi second week in October, 2001 — just a week or so after the airlines opened for business after 9/11.

    But the academic research is very relevant, and in fact the terrorists and governments in general depend on it. The vast majority of people are not up on relative risk, and they react emotionally. They are much more willing to accept risk that they think is voluntary but reject risk they consider involuntary. There is a LOT of research that suggests that it is difficult to change peoples’ minds just by telling them or even having them take a semester-long course (most academic psychology research is done on undergrads).

    It is not the research that is irrelevant, it is our complaining that people are irrational and our belief that government can change their minds.

    This is also why I believe TSA profiles — it is (as I said earlier) to give the illusion of safety. And as I said earlier, this is despicable.

    1. There are more Jewish terrorists targeting the US than Muslim.

      As tempting as that is, it is not a logical interpretation of the data presented.

  11. What is despicable Editorsteve is not TSA profiling giving false assuredness to travelers, it is the fact that it reinforces those travelers (and others) racism. It in affect gives them the stamp of approval, oh you are suspicious of all Arabs and Muslims, ok, we get it, and even though our nation is SUPPOSED to have ideals that have been enshrined in law, that is tossed out the window in “this” case. Try being on the receiving end of it OR have a child or loved one, even someone you just SEE this occuring to, try being on the receiving end of it and it just may anger you. Furthermore, it shouldn’t take it occurring to a loved one to anger you, but if you just CANNOT get it that these TSA rules violate our nation’s very foundation (I’m talking law here, not what still occurs despite law) then I strongly suggest you try it yourself. Try being Muslim or Arab for a while. It just may enlighten you. Please comment after your experiment is complete.

    1. I don’t think Editorsteve is defending TSA profiling. He wrote that it was ‘despicable.’ I just want to make sure that we’re careful about not ascribing views to fellow readers that they don’t hold.

  12. I understand Richard, this is what I was reacting to: This is also why I believe TSA profiles — it is (as I said earlier) to give the illusion of safety. (And as I said earlier, this is despicable).

    Let me put it in an easier way, by using racial profiling it is giving “satisfaction” to those “seeking full safety” when flying.

    Thing is, the satisfaction they are seeking is racial profiling.

    I feel like I’m having a literary tongue twister here trying to explain what I mean. It’s visual what I am trying to explain. You have the passengers who have been whipped into fear that if they get on a plane with anyone looking Middle Eastern or Muslim OOOO boy, don’t want to get on that plane! So then, in order to SATISFY that person who is fearful SOLELY based on the ethnicity/religion of that “strange looking passenger”, you take that person aside and pat em up one side and down the next, give the wand over and over, empty out the contents of all baggage, WHATEVER it takes, BECAUSE you want the passenger who is afraid of the “strange one” to feel safe!

    My question of Editorsteve goes not to the inefficacy in doing this as a safety measure, which is what I think he meant, but maybe not, but to try to flip it around to see that this isn’t about SAFETY at all! It’s about our government feeding and perpetuating racism in those who lap it up because they are so damn sure they’re right! Those darn Arabs/Muslims should be scrutinized. So rather than fostering what Obama “promised”, this is really bad!

    OK, hope my attempt at un-tongue twisting worked. It isn’t about giving a false sense of security, it’s about what you are DOING to give it and what you are FOSTERING in those demanding it.

    1. In my opinion, Robin, I don’t think the TSA gives a damn if we feel safe or not. A large part of the obsessive, paranoid racial profiling and excessive security is to shield themselves from blame in the event another panties bomber, or some other kind of “terrorist,” comes down the pike. One cannot fail to recall that the first reaction to the panty bomber episode was, “whose fault is it, whom do we flog?” and the answers went from the Israelis to the folks at the airport in Amsterdam who sold the guy his ticket in cash. (If buying a ticket with cash is so suspicious, why do they accept cash in the first place?)

      The objectives are avoiding liability, crowd control and then safety, in that order. They don’t care about passenger comfort; they would be happy to make us fly in paper gowns and give us nothing to eat but stale pretzels on international flights. They don’t make an example of “female possibles” like Shirin, for the sake of reassuring nervous travelers; on the contrary, the purpose is, at least in part, to make everybody feel nervous and intimidated (crowd control). It’s a display for the benefit of anyone watching.

      1. I agree with you, Mary. It is, first and foremost, about theater – appearing that they are taking it all very seriously and doing something about it. That, and not passenger safety, is the primary reason for the whole barefoot-through-the-checkpoint (which I have never experienced outside the U.S.), liquids-in-tiny-containers-in-a-quart-size-plastic-bag (which is not consistently enforced outside the U.S.) and all the rest of it. It’s mainly all for show, and that whole alleged liquid-mixing plot was a ludicrously unlikely fantasy anyway, and wasn’t it instigated by some undercover moron desperate to snag him some terrorists, or am I confusing it with the ten other heavily publicized “thwarted terrorist plots” that consisted mainly of mentally deficient, drugged-out wannabe so-called Muslin converts who were incited by undercover idiots to come up with fantasy terrorist plots? None of it was designed to protect anything but the asses of the officials who dreamed it up.

        Maintaining a perpetually frightened populace is, of course, always a useful thing for a government-industrial complex. In the ’50’s it was duck and cover and dread the red. When that went away they had to replace it with something else to be afraid of.

        In my experience, though, international flights are not nearly as affected by the security bullshit or the cost-cutting measures as domestic flights are. When I fly abroad, I generally dread the domestic leg, if there is one, from start to finish, and prefer to avoid a domestic flight if practicable. Security measures outside the U.S. are generally much more reasonable, and in-flight service in quality non-U.S. airlines is about as good as it gets. Singapore, Emirates, and Royal Jordanian are really good, with Royal Jordanian getting extra points for putting extra legroom space between rows, and Emirates getting extra for providing electrical power outlets in coach. Stupid “security” bullshit tends to diminish as you get farther from the U.S.

        As for someone like me being regularly called out as a “female possible”, I’m still not sure what that is about. It generally happens well before I arrive at the airport, since it’s all based on a code on my boarding pass. It doesn’t happen every time, so it doesn’t seem that I am on some sort of “suspect list”, but it is far too frequent to be random. And there is no way it is profiling based on appearance.

        1. You’re absolutely right. I grit my teeth until I get out of the US, and then I feel I can actually enjoy traveling. Not only am I not shoeless and emptying out half my carryon into a plastic tub, the personnel in foreign airports seem to be much more friendly and professional. In some locales, there is even a separate queue for us ladies. I also like the foreign airlines better; I give high marks to Turkish Airlines for comfort, efficiency and decent food (and before I became a Muslim, I could enjoy a couple of glasses of wine, and another one with dinner, even flying coach), and Pakistani International Airlines (PIA) is outstanding in comfort and courtesy to passengers. EgyptAir has some of the kindest and most accommodating flight staff I’ve ever flown with.

          I am wondering if you’re tagged as a “female possible” because there are names similar to yours on the no-fly list. It’s a thought.

  13. I agree Mary, completely. I think we are saying the same thing in different ways. It is display, but as Editorsteve pointed out correctly, it is done in the guise of providing safety and WHAT is done is neither Constitutional or moral for the recipient of the profiling nor serving any purpose for the fearful one other than to satisfy and cement that fear. Profiling and targeting certain individuals doesn’t alleviate fear, it puts a rubber stamp on it. That’s where Editorsteve gets it wrong in saying “it is our complaining that people are irrational and our belief that government can change their minds”. The government IS playing a mind game in choosing to act in this fashion. Question is, then what? Who benefits from this? Neither of the parties involved, but rather the powers that be. The hair on my neck raises in a cold shiver as to what this is doing to our society.

    As for shielding themselves, what did this latest incident result in? Upping the ante on more profiling, not just tightening the system which failed big time. (not to mention justify further US involvement in Yemen)

    And this is “hope” and “change”, ah, that’s a different subject:) Or is it? Where is the ADC? James Zogby? Where are they now…………..

    Something has gone very very wrong.

    1. We’ve actually seen plenty of evidence that government changes people’s minds, despite editorsteve’s claim to the contrary. One of the most fascinating books I read on the subject of 9/11 is Susan Faludi’s “Terror Dream,” which, although the book spent a lot of time on the feminist issues of heroes and damsels in distress, still opened a window of insight into the collective psychology of a society that has throughout its history sought out and constructed its entire mindset on its imagined need to be ever vigilant against enemies. Faludi takes an interesting idea and runs with it – that the western male-dominated society, and its government, overreacted to being brought to its knees by a bunch of eastern Arabs and has been trying to regain its feeling of superior strength, intelligence and fighting power ever since. This tragic occasion of the US’ being knocked off its proverbial high horse on 9/11 has been a catalyst setting in motion a lot of changes in our lives, many of which make no logical sense and many of which seem reaction-based. The need to regain the sense of control we used to have, the previous feeling of being invulnerable, is making us go to crazy lengths to recapture our old confidence. Other countries experience terrorist attacks but do not react the way the Americans do, because their societies are not built on the American myth.

      I still think this kind of hysteria is going to escalate; I don’t know how close this boy came to being assaulted or worse, but it is bound to happen in the future, that an innocent person is going to be mistaken for a terrorist by a hysterical airline employee or fellow passenger, with tragic results.

      1. Anyone who thinks the government does not change people’s minds has lost any connection with reality. Does the government change people’s minds? Let me count the ways. We can start with Goebbels’ famous statement about repeating lies often enough.

      2. Other countries experience terrorist attacks but do not react the way the Americans do, because their societies are not built on the American myth.

        Just a thought, it may be instructive to compare the reaction to 9/11 with the reaction to the Oklahoma City bombing, the previously most devastating terrorist attack in the US. Back then the reaction was a proper police investigation and a trial before a civilian court – ‘what else?’, everyone would’ve thought up until September 2001. Despite the initial shock, not just over the magnitude of the crime, but that Americans – Americans! – would be capable of something like that, did the govt or Congress declare War on Militias? Were posse comitatus and the habeas corpus act repealed or circumvented, were even just people with NRA stickers on their SUVs subjected to background checks at fertiliser stores and petrol stations? Was a “No-Drive” list assembled? The bomb was in a car after all. That right-wing gun nuts exist in droves is uncontested, but any hysteria over this is nowhere to be found. Not even critics of the 2nd amendment claim it has to be repealed to combat terrorism.
        The perpetrators of that attack were Caucasian Americans, not sexy enough as members of a group to summarily blame, profile, and discriminate against, at least in the public perception, or to designate as such for public consumption.

        it is bound to happen in the future, that an innocent person is going to be mistaken for a terrorist by a hysterical airline employee or fellow passenger, with tragic results

        Remember Jean Charles de Menezes, who was shot in July 2005 in the London subway by police who mistook him for a suicide bomber?

        1. Good points, fiddler. I should have clarified, but you did a great job of it – the enemy must be external, not living within our borders. The enemy is always the Other – not white, not Christian, and not anything or anyone the average American can identify with in any way. This depersonalization is essential; the enemy always symbolizes or embodies an equally enemy ideology. As Shirin pointed out, previously it was Communists; now it’s Islam and “Islamic terror,” although Obama has changed the rhetoric and says, “extremism,” as though that is going to make any difference at the end of the day.

          Yes, I do remember de Menezes, and what I recall quite clearly was that it took the authorities almost a month to admit that they had made a mistake. We should also not forget Maher Arar, the Canadian citizen who was deported to Syria in a nightmare “rendition” and tortured, was not returned home for a year, and then was not allowed to sue for damages.

    2. The ADC?! Jim Zogby?! give me a break! Their main goal for more than a decade has been to prove that they are “real Americans” by toadying as much as possible. Some of us have predicted that it won’t be long before they start sending speakers to the AIPAC convention. Many of us severed our relationships with ADC in disgust even before they changed the name of the organization from Arab-American to American-Arab, and when they did that we knew we had been right.

  14. I was being fecetious Shirin. What you wrote is exactly what I meant concerning the ADC and Zogby. Caspar Milquetoasts who do nothing whatsoever of value except to serve as token trophy wives to this administration.

    1. Oh, good. I am relieved! Facetiousness doesn’t always read well in this medium.

      ADC is the Uncle Touma (Touma being Arabic for Thomas) of Arab “activist” groups, shuffling and grinning for the master, and hoping one day to be mistaken for a white man. Even our local Arab community center is stronger in dealing with issues than ADC, even though we have to be extremely careful about political actions because we receive government funding for our social service programs and with that funding come very strict restraints. Nevertheless, we manage to keep our integrity very well, which ADC stopped doing quite some time ago. Years ago a bunch of us got fed up and split off from the national group to form our own rather loose-knit activist group, and maybe four or five years ago the local ADC chapter (which I resigned from a long time ago) separated from ADC and changed its name, and is now doing a lot of great work locally on a political, social, and cultural level. None of us has any use at all for ADC, and in all honesty, I don’t think about it much anymore at all.

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