Tuesday, April 3, 2007
Treatment of Israeli official spurs look at airport security
Contributed by Fatima
"JERUSALEM - By almost any measure, Rania Joubran is an Israeli role model. At 26, she's the youngest daughter of a sitting Supreme Court justice and an established lawyer who works for Israel's Foreign Ministry and speaks three languages.
She's also Christian Arab, not Jewish.
That distinction hit home for her a few weeks ago when she set off for a short vacation to Spain. What was supposed to be five days of fun began with a grilling by Israeli airport security and ended with a personal apology from Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who pledged to look into long-standing complaints that the country condones a racist policy of treating all Arab travelers as possible terrorists.
"There is no doubt that the time for the current policy ran out a long time ago and has no place in an Israel which has raised the banner of equality between Arab and Jewish citizens," Joubran wrote to Olmert after being singled out for extra questioning by security when she left and when she returned to Israel. "It is not enough for the country to recruit Arab citizens to its service; the real test of the state's democracy is the treatment and respect it gives these citizens."
Her experience was hardly unusual. Even before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States, security at Israel's Ben-Gurion airport was among the toughest in the world. It's difficult to find Palestinians or Arab-Israelis who don't have at least one story about a humiliating airport security check. For many, the screening, which can include strip searches and security escorts to the gate, is seen as an unavoidable inconvenience......."