Why we should "Israelify" our Airport Security - ITS Tactical

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Why we should “Israelify” our Airport Security

By Bryan Black

This has been an article that’s been on the forefront of my mind for the past few weeks and the more I’ve researched it, the more I’ve felt that what America needs to do is “Israelify” our airport security.

The media has been in an uproar lately about the new AIT scanners or “whole-body imaging devices” and how they’re an invasion of privacy. I understand everyone’s concern with the ridiculous searches and the potential for radiation, but I was just in the Salt Lake City Airport and didn’t mind it myself. I didn’t have anyone from TSA groping me, but I had nothing to hide either.

Despite the arguments over this new technology, I think everyone is ignoring the real issue with the TSA.

The Real Issue

The current system is broken and no one seems to be able to realize that no matter how much you scan and check people at security checkpoints, there’s still an inherent problem that needs to be addressed.

What’s to prevent someone from doing just as much damage to our airline infrastructure by pulling a vehicle right up to the airport and detonating an IED? Nothing more than a toll booth at our local airport here in D/FW.

So why do the Israeli’s have it right? Because you can’t eliminate these lingering problems with money and machines.


The whole basis of the Israeli system is a dirty word to us here… profiling. Not only do the Israelis have vehicle checkpoints before even reaching Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport, but a multi-level threat analysis system that depends on human beings; not some fancy machinery.

There’s an excellent article from the Toronto Star that a lot of the following information comes from and is definitely worth a read. Here’s what actually happens at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport:

  1. Roadside Check – All drivers are stopped and asked two questions: How are you? Where are you coming from?
  2. Exterior Security Perimeters – One set of armed guards observes as a whole, another focuses on the people entering the doors into the terminal looking for suspicious behavior.
  3. Check-In Desk Interview – While you hand your passport and ticket to an agent they rattle off a series of questions while looking directly into your eyes for: you guessed it, suspicious behavior.
  4. Luggage Screening – While you’re busy with your check-in desk interview, your luggage is scanned in an area surrounded with blast-proof glass. Even if a screener discovers a bomb, they have a “bomb box” to simply drop the article in question into for removal by a bomb squad rather than evacuating an entire airport.
  5. Body and Hand-Luggage Check – Only now do you finally reach the first line of defense in the US. There’s no worry about liquids or patting down your underwear, the Israelis are only looking at one thing. YOU!

So you can see from all these steps that the Israelis take, they’re simply looking at one thing; the person. Even with all the unrest in Israel, there hasn’t been a breech since 2002 when a passenger mistakenly carried a handgun onto a flight. All that without any of the sophisticated technology currently in use at our airports.

There’s also another factor left out, intelligence. Suffice to say that the Israelis have a comprehensive threat analysis system that’s in constant motion, there’s nothing like that here and definitely something that’s lacking.

Do you think it’s time we Israelified our airports?

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  • NDGT

    Caught on the Blaze.
    On Monday, Jindal phoned into the Glenn Beck Program to weigh in on the ongoing debate surrounding the nation’s airport security.
    The administration has made two fundamental mistakes, he said. “Number one, they are so focused on treating terrorists like citizens and citizens like suspects. They worry so much about the rights of the terrorists. Where are the rights for the average American? They need to move away from political correctness.”
    “They continue to try to respond to this terrorist threat where they befriend impostor. Well, we got lucky with the underwear bomber, we got lucky with the Times Square bomber. We got lucky with the packages. Luck is not a strategy,” Jindal added.

  • NDGT

    Nb: Profiling already exist for Drug Enforcement so why not for other threats.

    PS: All the scanner in the world won’t avoid a Copycat Mumbai attack from happening, so yes the Israeli have it right and they kind of know about terror threats and suicide bombers !

  • There’s one tiny little problem with using Israeli airport security procedures in the US: Nobody in the TSA or the DHS is intelligent enough to do what Israel does — including Napolitano (DHS) and Pistole (TSA). They’d have to fire the whole lot and hire new people with an IQ at least above room temperature.

    • Dennis

      “They’d have to fire the whole lot and hire new people with an IQ at least above room temperature.”

      I like that! Gonna use it a lot! Imagine, from hamburger flippers to guarding the traveling public? Would you like fries for your trip?

  • Harry

    If only it were that easy.

    With much respect, the argument presented is somewhat limited in scope. The underwear bomber didn’t board a flight in the US, and didn’t go through US run security. But the packages from Yemen weren’t luck. The attack was thwarted by good intelligence work and communication with foreign intelligence services. Luck isn’t a strategy, because it doesn’t exist.

    As far as the Israeli security system, they do have it right…for their AO. Unfortunately the nature of the threat we face is much different. Our security situation is more akin to Great Britain’s, where a large majority of their terror suspects over the past ten years were native-born British citizens. The fastest growing radical Islamic ummah in the world is in the American prison system. Profiling needs to be about more than just race or religion.

    That’s not to say that there isn’t much we can learn from the Israelis, for instance their standards for hiring TSA agents is much higher. However, they have significantly less airports to staff. It’s a complicated issue, and one without any definite solution. What results is a sliding scale of security vs. liberty. Unfortunately, in this circumstance, the old adage applies: “We have to be right every time, but they just have to be right once.”

    • Billy

      Harry, I don’t think you want it to be easy… I don’t know why that would be, probably to keep somebody from looking bad, but that was my first thought when I read your post.

      The underwear bomber – we have enough issues to focus on with domestic airports. There was probably a reason why Bryan didn’t bring that up. I don’t think that that situation takes anything away from the theory above.

      The Yemen Cargo bombs – again, what does that have to do with the article? Are you trying to say that everything is working great and there’s no need for change?

      US-born Islamic Terrorists – The majority of Islamic Terrorists that have been identified trying to attack us were NOT born in the US and most of them hadn’t spent any time at all in our prisons. Of course profiling needs to be more than race and religion! Where do you see that even remotely suggested in Bryan’s article?

      TSA Agents – We can’t hire good TSA Agents because we have too many airports? What?! Do you think the quality of our LEOs and our Soldiers are on the same level as our TSA agents??? Since there’s many, many more LEOs and Soldiers, they couldn’t possibly be well trained, intelligent people, right?

      You’re just like the bureaucrats that are too afraid to make a change because it might not be the perfect solution… never mind the fact that it’s 100 times better than what we’ve got! No, let’s just sit around and talk about how complicated it is.


    • Jeff

      Thankyou sir. I am a TSA officer. Folks believe me we are not in a big hurry to pat down everyone who comes through. The pat down is a lot less intrusive than people are making it out to be. When we screen and clear your legs we will place one hand on the outside thigh and one hand one the inside thigh. We will then move the hand on your inside thigh up to the point where you leg meets your torso. We will then slide both hands down your leg to your ankle. We will do this four times. Once per leg for the back and then once per leg for the front. Contrary to popular belief we do not enjoy this any more than you do. As far as the whole body imagers, there are signs that show an image depicting what we see when the machine is used. It is not as detailed as people think it doesn’t give us a color image of a naked body. It shows us an image akin to seeing a ghost in grey scale. We see enough to detect an object that is not part of a natural body contour. For those of you who want to purchase or manufacture some device in order to evade or counter the screening. It will show up as an anomoly that does not match a normal body contour and you will be subject to the pat down described above. You can opt out of the imager screening and get the same pat down. Save yourself the time and just comply or opt out. As for profiling. Where does it end? Would profiling stop the honest person who really forgot they had a gun in there bag No. Profiling relies on physical queues that don’t exist without the stress of being a bad guy. Try and pick the sociopath out of the group ( hint, he’ll be the one with the fewest tells. ) racial profiling would not have stopped Timothy McVeigh. I am consistantly amazed by the number of people who say to me “Do I look like a terrorist?” the answer is YES, every one of you looks like a terrorist, and I look like a terrorist too.

    • David

      “An honest person who forgot they had a gun” isn’t a threat…

    • Dennis

      Sorry, that level of person should not have a gun, HOW do you forget your wearing a gun?

      Why carry if you are not sure if it is there? Anyone that stupid deserves prison to remind him/her for the threat to others that while their are dealing with the gun carrier, the real threat walks right on by.

    • Megan

      “For those of you who want to purchase or manufacture some device in order to evade or counter the screening. It will show up as an anomoly that does not match a normal body contour”

      So, what if I make fake boobs that are filled with explosives? Don’t boobs fit the normal body contour? 🙂

    • Jeff

      That depends on the boobs 😉

  • According to Schneier, it doesn’t scale. There’s a lot of discussion on the topic in this reddit thread (including an assertion that it would cost $56.6 billion, compared to the TSA’s current $14.2 billion cost.

    But it’s certainly a practical system. If it’s feasible to implement here, I think it would be an improvement over Gate Rape™.

  • JD

    One thing about the article, from personal experience going in and out of there for 3 yrs.
    1. AFTER you get out off you car at the departure area, security can pull you to the side AT the curb and question you,,before you even get inside.
    2. THEN before you get to the x ray mac…hine, (which are BEFORE the ticket counters) you get the first REAL interview by usually an Isaeli hottie, who is being watched by plainclothes “over watch” who are gauging your reaction.
    3. Then you are able to place your bags on the x ray ang go to the counters, where you get asked once again basically the same questions you were asked 5 minutes ago by the hottie.
    Mind you this was after you were stopped at the “toll booths” right ioff the highway leading to the airport, PRIOR to even getting to the terminal.
    Hey it works for them, no all body scanners or getting you junk groped by some TSA clown

  • Lucas

    “Welcome to the United States of Amerika: During travel you have absolutely no expectation to your constitutional rights so check them at the door with your luggage. ”

    “We must protect the Moth..I mean the Fath…I mean We Much Protect the Homeland.” HAIL AMERICA

    Guys, I like your site a lot, but I like it a lot better when you talk about tactical info and not politics.

    I get so much great info from the team here at ITS, but more like this and I won’t be coming back.

    Just my thoughts. Thanks again for all the good articles.

    • Lucas, I have no clue what your comment is supposed to mean… I get the part about you not liking the article, but at least substantiate your comments.

      Thanks for the comment,

    • Lucas


      I’m sorry, it is difficult to display sarcasm in a comment.

      I was pointing out, sarcastically, that everything you article suggests we do for “Security” goes even further in completely destroying our constitutional rights:

      Unreasonable search
      Right to privacy
      Innocent until proven guilty

      Your proposed system sounds like Nazi Germany. Doesn’t anyone else see this?

      This is quoted in various ways but always the same essential sentiment:

      “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” – Benjamin Franklin

      If we need an Imminent Threat Solution to anything it is the government.

    • Lucas, since when did flying in a commercial airplane become a “right?” It’s a privilege, plain and simple. Just like entering any business establishment, they have the “constitutional right” to not serve you. You can disagree all you want to, but I see “Israelification” as a huge step in the right direction. Is it the be all, end all step? No, of course not, but El Al is doing a lot of right. How is asking question and profiling people by their mannerisms like Nazi Germany, you’re taking it too far.

      Imminent Threat Solutions is not and will never be about anti-Government rhetoric, does that mean we agree with everything the government does? Of course not, but not too long ago I swore to support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America which was written by our Government. With the way you’re talking, I’m guessing you never did?

    • Dennis

      “Welcome to the United States of Amerika”

      Lucas, your in the wrong country and leaving would be best for us too.

      I just found this site and while you think that TSA and Terrorists are not equal threats to everyone, then your confused state is where you must live from now on, Not AMERICA!

      Politics and tactical are two sides of the same coin! One is to get us in trouble and the other to get us out of trouble. It is best if both sides are understood.. Thinking tactical is always having a gun loaded, ready to use and in your hand……. How will you shake hands with a future friend if he/she see’s the gun? Rocks make better places to hide than in your own mind.

  • The Israelis do a lot of things right. Of course they come at things with a different mindset. They know and understand that EVERYONE needs to be involved with stopping terrorist threats, while here in America the public in general have come to depend on the government to protect us.

    Profiling is the answer. Profiling is more than looking at the color of the skin, or the name of the person, or their religious beliefs. Done right, profiling segregates the good people from the bad people.

    After all who is more dangerous, the bomb or the man with the bomb?

  • I think with all this going on “they” are going to move on to a soft target like a middle school. This current direction is just going to piss off your average citizen and cause travel delays.
    A series of Belsan type attacks would cripple us and turn the country upside down.

  • Ben

    Profiling does work in many situations, though what about the more home grown terrorists?

    I suppose I am making the assumption that profiling would most likely concentrate itself on people who look faintly arabic or hispanic. I myself have been profiled a few times passing through security, usually being picked for the increased security pat down which I assume is to do with me having dark, curly hair and a tan.

    My point being, that until 2001 the majority of focus on terrorism within the U.S. came from home grown terrorists such as McVeigh. I suppose if they run through body language that is one thing, but if they go for ethnicity they could miss something major.

    However, I must say that I agree with profiling in airports, especially if it means I don’t have to hop around for a minute holding my jeans up after I go through a scanner!

    I hope I made sense with this post, this is a fantastic website, long time reader and a first time poster. Keep up the good work lads!

  • SWAT Medic

    This topic has been kicked around for some time, at least in the Midwest and Central States. I know in the past (post 9/11) DHS and other agencies have pushed hard on the training side with local teams leading up to events like the Super Bowl, and other events that would draw attention, but I think we (as a county) would be hard pressed to change our infrastructure like Israel. We have grown very comfortable with the way our current “system” works.

    The ironic thing about this article is this was discussed (informally and off the record) at length at the last DHS training class that I attended. The general feeling that I got from the discussion was that we really wouldn’t know where to start if we did decide to do something simply because of the scale and public perception of such a movement. What we have not experienced is an event that has moved us beyond our progress since 9/11. We have not had an IED go off 2/3’rds of the way into an airport (where most screenings start), for example. Sadly, we will be reactive to such threats and not proactive.

  • Agent 000

    I absolutely agree that security needs to start before you enter the the airport. All airports should have a primary check point were people and vehicles are screened prior to coming within close proximity of the main building(s).

    Another major problem I see when I fly, is the TSA Agents themselves. TSA seems to hire people that are very under qualified , even for what they do. I’m not trying to hurt anyone’s feelings, but some of these people wouldn’t know what to do if an attacker rushed the security line and decided to inflict mass casualties.

    They seem to be more worried about going through the motions than searching each individual and most importantly watching for key behaviors in subjects. I’m really surprised that more incidents have not occurred to this day.

  • Ben


    Highlights some of the reasons why a police cordon out front would be a good idea.

    It’s just a good thing they did it in Glasgow, where the first reaction to seeing a flaming terrorist run towards you is to punch him to the floor. Makes me proud to be a Brit

  • Shamrock63

    Great article Bryan, I had been thinking the same thing after learning more about the Israeli model. The new system which we are allowing to take hold is not going to work, and already criticized for its ineffectiveness.

  • Tim

    I would love the kind of security discussed in the article. Aside from the total change in character and mindset, the logistical changes, the needed changed in airport infrastructure, and the added costs of additional personel in this country’s hundreds of airports, I see one major thing keeping this from ever happening. We simply don’t have enough qualified people to man these stations. You can’t teach instinct, and most people will never be able to be taught to read body language.

    • Lizz

      You can’t teach instinct, but instinct can be informed. Besides which, knowing how to read body language could be made into a job requirement. Body language can for sure be taught, at least to normal people without, say, Aspergers or autism.

  • johnyD

    I agree, Great article. Just as the best intel gains mean gaining it in the “old school” craft of interpersonal contact, as apposed to modern “technical disciplines”. I think protocols for procedure and training should lean towards a model of what has worked versus what the bureaucratic think tank might care to add as a possessional recommendation, most times (alarmingly) this is the failure in our system: plans implemented that sooner fail those in the field, our heroes then handed the bill, and high rollers sweeping themselves under the carpet. – my two cents

  • Dave Rivers

    The folks that screen you in Israel are military. Of course every Israelite (except Hasidim/hard core religious) is/was military. These people are trained/trainable. The TSA folks are, apparently, not trainable. TSA could never hope to approach the level of the Israelis. I was screened in Tel Aviv last February. The people were beautiful, smart, quick-witted and professional. Nothing like TSA.

  • Robert

    I like the Israeli system and believe it should be implemented here.
    Regarding profiling, there is a difference between profiling and the racial profiling we have such difficulty with as an issue.
    I have several problems with our current system.
    Since 911, the game has changed with regard to taking over a plane – it isn’t going to happen for a variety of reasons. Ex: http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=95735&page=1
    We are treating everyone, including the pilots, as if they are threats that will remain latent only for the lack of the basic tools of civilization. This constitutes a radical distrust of our neighbors and fellow citizens; as if they could not be expected to help in an emergency. This state of mind where we fear our neighbors and mediate our relationships with them via the government security apparatus is hazardous in itself.
    Because we are afraid of dealing with issues such profiling, our security is left to a mechanical process like sausage making, where every thing is treated equally and improperly.
    I would much rather devote resources to human intelligence and an system modeled on Israeli practices.

  • fuspar

    While W did a great job getting the TSA going and staffed, I feel that at some point the training protocol stopped evolving. I know these positions aren’t a dream job by any means, but hey, a full time federal job with benefits?
    I also feel the media -as usual- is doing a fantastic job of creating a story where there isn’t one. I, for one, have yet to talk to anyone who minds the screenings. I have been asking friends and family recently, and no one I know gives a poop about if that’s what it takes to be safe.
    Maybe I have no shame, but I could care less if somebody behind a booth got a peak at my anatomy. It’s a pretty small sacrifice to make compared to how much our troops put on the line so that we can sit down this Thursday and have a feast with our loved ones and catch a nap later.
    So, if you run into some ass clown whining about a TSA pat down, ask him how he’d like to spend Turkey Day freezing his ass off in some remote FOB, feasting on MRE’s while Taliban shooters are sending their regards via 7.62×39 love?

  • Mike

    Here’s my two cents. I’ve been through Israeli airport security and it works…period. When was the last time an Israeli aircraft was hijacked or used for nefarious means?
    Profiling is in my opinion another name for good police work.
    In the Bad Area neighborhood of Anytown, USA a 6’5″ 400 lb white male with a beard and shaved head is raping every woman he can find. Wouldn’t it be good police work for the authorities to stop and question every 6′ + heavy white male with a shaved head in the Bad Area neighborhood?

  • Dave

    I’ve been a lurker on this site for a few months, and I’ve enjoyed your articles a great deal. For a little bit of background, I’ve visited Israel many times and have worked for security agencies for the Jewish community in Britain.

    Anyway, I think people may be getting things a little bit mixed up. The Israeli system is actually not profiling, they watch everyone like a hawk, not specific groups. This allows them to pick up on suspicious behaviour in the individual, which THEN means they focus on the right people.

    The security staff are not allowed to discriminate, notably this includes discrimination against arabs. BUT they may further explore an arab acting suspiciously. The suspicious behaviour having been picked up by observing everyone!

    The laws against discrimination are very tough, in fact there was recently a case where an Israeli Arab was compensated for harassment and a security worker was fired. The security officer was racist and abused her authority to maltreat an innocent businessman.

    Profiling has its place, when you know what your suspect looks like, as Mike said. BUT when your suspect could be anyone, as pointed out before by various people, you have to treat everyone as a potential suspect. The Israelis do this, but their methods are far more refined.

    I’m sorry if this makes no sense, as it’s been a long day, if I need to clarify anything please point it out.

    All the best,


    P.S. I’m from Glasgow, if anyone calls me a Brit I’ll set John Smeaton on them!

  • Jeff

    The system can be improved. There is no system that can’t be. Behavioral profiling is already conducted. The pat downs are another layer. The xray for carry on baggage is another. The whole body imager is yet another. It’s called defense in depth. Everyone says they want profiling until it is them being profiled then they get indignant. I work with some idiots and I work with some worthwhile people. It’s the same no matter where you go. Even in Isreal. You say we should profile and maybe not screen the nice old lady the same way we screen somebody else. Then guess who the bad guys send with the bomb next time. 2007 Two Russian airliners blown up in mid air within five minutes of each other by two women pretending to be pregnant. It’s a fact that we are reactionary. But the screener at the airport isn’t the guy making policy. And maybe just maybe he’s not being the most customer service oriented individual because he’s had to conduct a half dozen bag searches in the last half hour through your dirty laundry for stuff that you should already know you can’t take with you as carry on luggage. How long have we had a liquids ban? How many times has it been in the news? It is still the number one type of bag search. The actual technical and physical part of my job isn’t difficult. It’s dealing with the self absorbed arrogance that often goes along with self imposed ignorance.

  • Kevin B

    Profiling is ignorant and RACIST… Surprised you even suggested that should be an option…

    Stick to tactics and leave politics alone…

    Take care and God Bless…

    • This article has nothing to do with politics Kevin and everything to do with security. What’s suggested is not “RACIST” at all, it’s behavioral profiling. Completely different from racial profiling.

      Thanks for the comment and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Johan

    Very interresting article, and I noted that Stratfor made some very similar suggestions when they wrote about aviation security:

  • gerald

    First let’s make this clear, the only reason americans are NOW angry about this situation, is because in the past they were done to does that felt in the racial profile category, and the RIGHT people were never bother and humilliated, now that they feel how’s life on the other side, they don’t like it.

    About israel the only thing that i can say is that if you thing that what they do to does that they profile as suspect is only a little pat down, you are way off, way off, do a little more research about the subject, and i promise you is an eye opener.

  • Garrett

    Instead of a police state…since this is land of the FREE home of the BRAVE we should have more citizens and LEOs carrying guns on planes.

  • Garrett

    Or just privatize it and then you can decide what airline you will fly and their security measures will affect whom you choose to spend your money with.

  • Jon

    I am a BPR (behavior pattern recognition) Officer working for a private security firm. I protect a high profile target that My supervisor once worked at Ben Gurion doing the same thing that I now do, bpr, and he was the one who taught me. Trust me guys, this stuff works (feel free to ask me questions). However, it is BEHAVIOR that must be profiled, not race, religion or ethnic background. This article will clearly explain why (and how the Israelis left themselves vulnerable with disastrous results):
    If you do read the entire article, pay close attention to the last two sections, “Facing the Human Factor” and “Racial Profiling vs. Behavior Pattern Recognition.”
    Look up the story of Kozo Okamoto and what he did at Ben Gurion Airport in 1972. It really was the “turning point” of security for the Israelis, and what brought about a complete paradigm shift.

  • Jon

    Also worth mentioning–the underwear bomber was not supposed to fly out of Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam. A BPR officer screened and security questioned him and determined that something was not right. Do some research and see if you can find out: why he DID fly, and also what company (and its history/background) provides security for Schiphol. I find it very, very interesting how the media fails to report on the above, and focuses now on “what technology should we adopt?”

    I think that we are placing too much focus on technology. The focus should be placed on people and behavior. As my L.E.O. friends all say, “watch the hands!” Cheers.

  • Bouncerman

    I think that the biggest problem in general is that the government is the one in charge of it. I still have yet to see them take charge of anything and do a good job at it…. unless of course it includes taking your money, and even then, they are prone to screwing that up too. I think the best bet is for the government to stay out of it and do what they should be doing according to the constitution.

  • BK Price

    Having flown in and out of Israel several times in the last year, I can tell you that a) the article cited is incorrect in a number of places, b) the Israelis do conduct “racial” profiling (along with behavioral profiling), and c) I still think their process is far safer than what the US is currently using (with caveats). Lastly, I have a relative who conducts security checks at US airports and there is a tremendous difference between how we (the US) handle TSA’s failures and how the Israelils handle failures.

    a) The security lines to get to your first screening within the airport bunchup considerably and you could have hundreds of people in a small area prior to the x-ray machines. A bomber could still hit them successfully. The x-ray machine is not surrounded by blast glass, though there is another area where suspicious packages could be moved. The questions you get asked by the “hottie” in the line leading up to the x-ray machine are considerably more detailed than advertised but do focus on your responses. You will likely be asked, “where did you stay? who did you meet with? did you go anywhere? with whom?” Very invasive questions. Then, yes, all of your bags are x-rayed before you even get to the counter to check-in. If you are lucky, you get the sticker at the x-ray and you move to the counter. If not, you get sent to the hand inspection where they continue to ask you questions as they search your bag by hand and swab it for explosives. After you get through that, you go to the ticket counter where you turn over your bags. You get a few more questions but more in line with what you see in the states. After that, you go to the security line like you do in the States, where they check your ticket and passport again and may or may not ask you a number of questions. THEN you go through metal detector while your bag goes through the x-ray. You don’t remove your shoes unless they set off the detector. After that is passport control and then you are in the airport. I have done the whole thing in about 20-30 minutes and I have had to spend 3 hours going through the checks before running for my plane. The time of day does not matter, I’ve been there at 0300 and I’ve been there at 1600, the lines are the same and the process is the same. Security personnel make an obvious search of the airport looking in and behind trash containers and sizing up every passanger. Very professional the entire time. But I never get to the airport with less than 3 hours till my flight (though they won’t even let you in the security line until it is 3 hours before your flight). So for the most part, everyone gets the same treatment, you just won’t know how severe its going to be until you get there.

    b) Every Arab knows that they will almos always have a 3 hour security process to get on the plane, often with a side trip to one of the small interrogation rooms where they may be asked to strip to their underwear while they are searched using a wooden baton (just for the pat down, nothing more invasive than that). There are complaints nearly every day in the Israeli papers about this kind of treatment and its generally accepted as the cost of doing busines. In one of my more recent trips, I was travelling with a sizeable party, all on orders, all pre-coordinated with the Israeli government. When you enter Israel, you breeze through customs with only a few questions. However, one of my team members was stopped for an hour and a half because he had a dark complexion and his first name was common Arabic one (though he is actually hispanic). There was nothing otherwise different about him from the rest of the group to include his orders. He got to visit the little interrogation rooms but he did not have to strip. So yes, the Israelis do a much better job than us at “behavioral” profiling and they don’t let folks slip through because they are Jewish, white, old lady, etc. But to claim that they are not doing racial profiling I think is incorrect. I’m not sure its not necessarily warranted in their situation but there’s no sense in denying it.

    c) You have to keep in mind that Ben Guiron is their only international airport. It only handles a small number of flights per day, and they have a much smaller travelling population to deal with than the US does. Furthermore, all of their TSA employees are prior military (remember, they have a universal draft), so their pool of employees is already a) trained to a higher degree than the average American citizen and b) can already be evaluated based on previous performance. Furthermore, when a TSA agent fails to identify a practice “bomb”, they are asked when they lost received training, when they last saw the practice “bomb” in training, and then they are scheduled for re-training so they can return to work. The Israelis simply fire their failing individual on the spot. But again, that has to do with the pool of applicants they can draw from compared to the people willing to do the job in the US combined with the number of personnel needed. There is simply no comparison to the number of personnel needed for all of the airports in the US.

    Finally, as someone mentioned previously in comments, there is trend in which passengers are the ones who defeat the terrorist. This should be promoted, not in place of current security measures, but in addition to them. Take certain individuals who travel extensively and offer them good deals like the use of private lounges, discounts on tickets, increase miles, whatever (but not seat upgrades as this would defeat the purpose), and then provide them with training not only in how to deal with terrorists but in how to deal with other airline disasters. We can’t put air marshals on every plane, but we can better train the people who are going to be there anyway.

  • Mr D
  • noize

    this is preferable to the situation we have now, as long as they hire professionals.

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