29 thoughts on “TSA Screwing Up Airport Security? Turn to Israel (NOT) – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. I think the TSA incorporates some of Israel’s “screening techniques” already, including the racial and religious profiling they’re famous for. However, I don’t think they’ve graduated (yet) to shooting anyone’s laptop.

    What has been mentioned before should be mentioned again. It is ridiculous to think we can make a perfectly safe world, especially when it comes to travel. The risk of being a victim of terrorism is already infinitesimally small, so how realistic is it to expect that anyone can guarantee perfect safety on an airplane? We travel by car every day, and the odds are much better that we’re going to be in an accident, yet no one is apoplectic over the number of fatal accidents in the US every year. This makes no sense. If we can accept the risk we take when we travel by automobile, why can we not accept the much tinier risks inherent in air travel?

    1. This sounds a lot like a conversation I had this week with one of my male colleagues who flies a lot on business, and who is as outraged as I am over this latest idiocy.

      This is less about real security than it is about what some have called “security theatre”. Particularly since 9/11 it is less about keeping anyone safe than about making a big show about “keeping us safe”. The fact that the 80% of airports that do not have the virtual strip search machines also do not require the full-body stranger-grope tends to confirm that, wouldn’t you say? If having our genitals and breasts either exposed or squeezed were essential to our safety wouldn’t they require at least one of the above at all airports instead of only the 20% that have the strip search machines?

      And among the annoying aspects of this whole thing is the fact that for the first time I find myself in agreement with some of the worst of the right wing nuts. This week I actually signed a petition on the loonitunes World Net Daily site because I agreed with every word in it.

      1. Oh, don’t worry, Shirin. Chertoff will make sure the rest of those airports are covered, too. Just as soon as he can get his assembly lines moving faster.

        1. Yeah, I guess he, among others, is making a killing on this latest erosion of our rights. You know, aside from being slower train travel is a lot less uncomfortable than plane travel. I prefer travel by train or coach (bus) all the time within the Middle East, and maybe I’ll just get used to it in the U.S. as well. Syrian trains even have movies onboard just like airplanes do.

          1. Well, trains are becoming just as inconvenient as planes. Even on Europe’s “high speed” trains (I don’t know about Japan) there are delays, overcrowding, lack of service and security on board, no check-in (gotta schlep your own bags and little room to store them), seat neighbors constantly on their portable phones etc. And, from what I understand Chertoff will soon be patting down train passengers, too.

          2. Oh yes, I forgot to mention that I can’t get to NY or the West Coast by train from where I live in Europe. No matter how fast or comfortable they might be.

        1. Wing Nut Daily? Better to start your own petition. But then again, I think I ran across something say there are hundreds of them out there all asking for the same thing – to not grope and fondle airline passengers.

          Indeed, it IS theater. IF there was a sincere concern for passenger safety, US foreign policy would change to a more reasonable approach that does not create terrorists. Waging preemptive wars in Muslim countries under false pretenses understandably pisses people off. After generations of running their puppet governments, dropping bombs on people tends to alienate them and create dangerous enemies.

  2. I can’t count how many times I cited your blog in the face of seeing Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, et. al. featuring El-Al representatives touting Israeli security measures.

    Michael Chertoff is a link to El-Al that is worthy of investigation. The former DHS head’s mom, after all, was famously the first El Al stewardess. Michael Chertoff started the Newark Office of Latham & Watkins, LLP, which “conveniently” handled the wholesome matter of defending Larry Silverstein, the major insurance companies, and any other big interests involved against those of 9/11 victims. Indeed, the firm was scrutinizing medical records during a discovery process that took place while Chertoff, in his capacity as DHS director, could have wholly manipulated the outcome of the case. There was a definite conflict of interest there, but that seems to be Chertoff’s Modus Operandi.

    He was the one touting his Chertoff Security Group Body Scan Devices after his former department failed to fulfill their primary mandate: a Nigerian national lit his crotch on fire in economy class.

    It’s not strange that the very man who created the system that was supposed to catch the problem has the very solution we all need at this very moment? Rising to power during desperate times…hmmm….nah, I won’t go there.

    People who are looking to Israel for security measures from America should be reminded that prior to 1968, no Arab or Muslim attacked a single US interest. That was when our support for Israel’s poor practices really started. BTW, I worded that last sentence that way on purpose. Do you think it’s a better message?

    One more thing, I just read this and was curious if you would be interested in interviewing her and bringing her narrative to light for the rest of us? What if more Americans knew her story? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/majda-abu-rahmah/eid-without-a-father-and-_b_786670.html You likely already know way more about this, Richard, than I do.

    1. just particularly thought it appropriate for Thanksgiving while everyone reflects on how happy they are with their families :\

      1. I’m eager to help his cause after learning about it only recently. I’ve decided a few months back that the tenor of my activism will be to amplify voices like yours and to de-amplify those that seek to truly do what I’m pretty sure you and I, as well as most of your readers, are just incapable of doing. Happy Thanksgiving sir. The world gives thanks to you.

    2. “People who are looking to Israel for security measures from America should be reminded that prior to 1968, no Arab or Muslim attacked a single US interest.”

      More generally, if the U.S. behaved like Switzerland and minded its own business on the world stage, 9/11 would not have happened and none of this would be necessary.

      If the U.S. airline industry decides to start profiling, all I can say is: “Let the lawsuits begin.”

      1. The U.S. airline industry started profiling a long time ago. They just pulled out the occasional little old white lady or nice middle aged white man to make it look like they were picking people randomly.

  3. Would we prefer some inconvenience and full body scans or outright ethnic profiling passing for sophisticated airport screening techniques?

    How about none of the above? How about a person’s right to decide who touches them and where and in what manner?

    One of the most outrageous aspects of this latest intrusion on our rights is that they are subjecting children, even very small children to these procedures. And parents are accepting this, and worse yet encouraging their children to accept it. There are videos of a three year old little girl being groped by a TSA agent, apparently because she acted like a typical three year old and became upset over having her stuffed animal toy taken away and placed on the conveyer belt. And then there is the five year old little boy who was subjected to a partially nude body search when his father felt compelled to remove his shirt for him. Shame on the parents for permitting these assaults on their kids, and how confusing is it going to be for those kids next time they get the “don’t let strangers touch you ‘down there’ ” lecture. And now as a result of outrage over incidents like these, the TSA has made the grand gesture of exempting children under twelve years from these procedures. So now we are supposed to believe that it is OK to require children twelve and up to choose between being virtually stripped naked and having their genitals and breasts groped by a stranger?! And what are we teaching our children about their right to control who gets to touch them, and where, and how? What a confused lot Americans are when teachers are forbidden to even give a child an approving pat on the shoulder, let alone give them a hug, and yet we give total strangers have the right to grab their genitals.

    As for me, I need to travel to Southern California in January for a conference. I was planning to fly down from the major international airport as I always do. There is an airport about five miles from the conference location, so it’s very convenient. I am now looking into alternatives. Oddly enough, as “essential” as it is that we all either be virtually strip searched (and exposed to yet more x-rays) or submit to aggressive full-body manual examinations, 80% of airports in the U.S. do not have scanners, and those that do not have scanners also do not use the extremely demeaning stranger-grope process either. So, one of the options I am considering is driving an hour or more to fly out of an airport where I will not be sexually assaulted, virtually or otherwise. I am also considering traveling by train. If all else fails I will drive, as time-consuming and tiring as that is.

    And if anyone things the intrusions into our bodies will stop here, think again. This latest outrage is supposedly a response (a year later) to the failed panty bomber. What will they try to subject us to after they discover someone concealing a “weapon of mass destruction” in a body cavity? (Oh yes, absurdly one of the charges against the undies bomber has to do with weapons of mass destruction.)

  4. Israeli security? You should pay attention to all the reports about Israelis arrested in all sorts of airports around the world for having ammunition in their bags (grenades, rifle rounds, even full clips). They keep forgetting this stuff in the bags when returning from reserve duty, and since no one is inspecting white israeli jews when they leave israel, and no one is checking their bags, they usually get arrested when returning to israel at foreign airports, where they do get inspected like everyone else (and if only you understood Hebrew at these queues, to hear them complaining about “the harassment and humiliation, just like arabs they treat us”). a most recent incident in Rome:

  5. I can’t imagine the Arab-American former Secretary of Health Donna Shalala, who was given “special treatment” at Ben Gurion last July, giving breathless endorsements of Israeli profiling.

  6. RE: “There is a wee small problem with the characterization of Israel’s system. It’s a sack of bull.” – R.S.
    SEE: Israeli firm blasted for letting would-be plane bomber slip through ~ By Yossi Melman, Haaretz, 01/10/10
    • Screening system developed by ICTS International should have flagged Nigerian passenger as security threat

    (excerpt) The Israeli firm ICTS International (not to be confused with ICTS Europe, which is a different company), and two of its subsidiaries are at the crux of an international investigation in recent days, as experts try to pinpoint the reasons for the security failure that enabled Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to board Northwest flight 253 and attempt to set alight explosives hidden in his underwear.
    A Haaretz investigation has learned that the security officers and their supervisor should have suspected the passenger, even without having early intelligence available to them.
    At this time, ICTS and the Dutch security firm G4S are hurling recriminations at each other, as are the authorities at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, the Federal Aviation Authority and U.S. intelligence officials….
    …Two decades ago, ICTS adopted the system used in Israel, namely of profiling and assessing the degree to which a passenger is a potential threat on the basis of a number indicators (including age, name, origin and behavior during questioning)…
    …ICTS was established in 1982 by former members of the Shin Bet and El Al security…

    ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/israeli-firm-blasted-for-letting-would-be-plane-bomber-slip-through-1.261107

  7. I can’t believe that people find it so troublesome to be touched by a stranger. It seems that the USA has really lost itself if a teacher can’t hug or give a pat on the shoulders, so I see that to be searched bodily would seem odd to an American.
    As an ex-Brit who has been strip-searched by the Russian airport security back in 1979 on suspicion of being Jewish (I am), and realised that they were only doing their best to prevent smuggling or terrorism, I can’t see what all the fuss is about. In any case everyone had to wait for me on the flight.
    If you don’t want to be searched then don’t fly or don’t go to a shopping mall or don’t go to a government office.
    Get used to it ‘cos it’s here to stay unless some other more efficient security measure is invented.
    I’d rather be delayed for 2 hours before a flight than to be worried for the whole duration of the flight.
    If you’re liable to a “special” search in USA by virtue of racial screening, be assured that a Jew\Israeli will have the same problem in flying Iranair, Arab Emirates, etc.
    It’s just tough, the world’s not perfect yet!

    1. What an absurd series of statements. As for your allegation about Jews flying on Iran Air or Emirates, that is pure BS. Jews fly on Emirates airline all the time, and no one knows or cares who is a Jew and who is not. I am personally acquainted with a number of Jews, including a couple of rabbis who have flown to Iran, and were treated exactly as everyone else was, including several who went to Iran as a delegation of American Jews.

      As for people not wanting to be forced to have their genitals and breasts examined by a stranger, that is absolutely normal human behaviour. It is the idea of willingly submitting to such a thing that is abnormal.

    2. be assured that a Jew\Israeli will have the same problem in flying Iranair, Arab Emirates, etc.

      I assume that’s your belief but I wonder on what it’s based other than an assumption that Arab/Muslim nations feel about Jews as many Israeli Jews feel about Arabs & Muslims. But I doubt it is true. Do you really believe these airlines target Jews as a potential terror threat as Israel does travelers of dark skin or non western names? Or is yr claim that these nations do this out of anti Semitism or anti-ZIonism?

      Shirin is right in her comment that Jewish travelers do visit Iran regularly. In fact, I’m aware that a local Seattle Jewish radio personality recently visited Iran. And Shirin is once again right that a group of clergy including rabbis visited Iran a year ago or so. I know several of the rabbis on that trip.

    3. How utterly ridiculous to expect that people should not be bothered by having their privates fondled in public. And that is only the beginning of the lunacy I see in your comment. I’m aghast, really, that anyone would be so willing to surrender what scraps of dignity we have left for the sake of creating a false sense of security. It’s left me speechless. Really.

    1. Don’t ban him! Let everyone see how he deals with people who don’t share his opinion.

      I admit to being an asshole and a jerk and a w**nker

      Feel better, ene?

      1. It’s not a matter of sharing opinion, rather of grasping facts.

        Your reply merely proves my point.

        No, I don’t feel better. It pains me to see people delude themselves.

  8. بنام خدایی که قوی تر از هر موشکی است
    بنام خدایی که قوی تر از اتم است
    بنام خدایی که می میراند و زنده می کند
    بنام خداوند بخشنده مهربان
    Name of God is more powerful than any missile
    Name of God is more powerful than the atom
    You will live and die in the name of God
    The Name Of Allah

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