Racial profiling for security

Israel has a clear record for airport security. Why? Because it insists on interviewing passengers rather than simply scanning them – as this is a far more effective way to expose any wannabe-plane bombers. Sometimes of course, innocent people are mistakenly pulled aside as well. Unfortunately, the deteriorating security situation on planes demands that such screening procedures are made in order to potentially save lives.

Written in first-person with heartfelt prose and emotionally-pulling anecdotes, ‘Nicki’ went through the experience and “survived” to tell her tale on Yediot Achronot:

Immediately and without explanation, my bags and passport were taken from me and further security appeared demanding to know whether this girl was really Australian. I found this question offensive: she is as “Australian” as I am, just without my “stereotypical” blond hair and blue eyes. They started questioning her background, which made me think: if she or I were any type of security threat, would I openly say her name? Of course not. The situation didn’t seem rational to me.

When I was at Ben-Gurion airport, I went through a screening as well. Needless to say we spoke in Hebrew which is always a plus in such a situation. Whilst I do empathize with Nicki, a security disaster on board a plane, far, far outweighs the collective grievances of all tourists that have to endure a security search or an interrogation. According to this article:

While civil libertarians in the United States continue to grapple with the difficult issues of racial and ethnic profiling, Israelis claim that they move beyond profiling to what they term behavior recognition. They study facial expressions, look for nervous gestures or inconsistent stories in passengers’ responses to questioning, or oddities like unusually bulky clothing that seems out of place for the season of the year. Security personnel use common sense and intuition to look for any tell-tale signs that something about a passenger is not quite right.
The simple fact of the matter is that some people pose a greater risk than others – and some may be a carrying bombs on board unwittingly such as the case of Anne-Marie Murphy, a 32 year old Irish woman whose Palestinian boyfriend planted explosives in her suitcase. In the words of Mordechai Rachamim, an Israeli sky marshal:
“The attitude must be that they have to wake up every day, every morning, and say, ‘This morning, there is going to be an attack.’ …It doesn’t matter if you are a bodyguard, or if you are dealing with hijacking or security. You have to say every morning, ‘Today, this morning, there’s going to be an attack.'”