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Can YOU Be Humiliated?

I read the following story in Haaretz this morning and it reminded me of a similar experience I had at the hands of El Al security in London a few years ago:

Haifa District Court Wednesday ruled that El Al airlines must compensate two Arab Israelis some NIS 30,000, for humiliating them during security checks in a New York airport. The brothers were closely guarded throughout the checks, their movements were constrained by the airline’s security detail, without anything that would determine them as a security risk. One of the brothers was also told he would not be allowed to board the flight home unless he apologizes to one of the guards.

If you read the rest you’ll find that the two were followed all around the airport and after exchanging angry words with the security team, one of them burst into tears and wasn’t allowed on the flight till he appologised to the El Al security person.

Now here’s what happened to me. Quite a few years ago I flew at fairly short notice to Israel to join my wife who’d flown ahead before me. I bought a ticket on El Al 2 or 3 days before the flight: at that time I more regularly flew BA so it had been at least 3 years since I’d flown on El Al.

At the security check before check-in I realised something was up. I answered the routine questions, including those about my Israeli wife, why she wasn’t flying with me this time and the other family I have in Israel beside my wife’s. I was taken aside and everything I own was manually hand searched and individually bomb residue tested. I mean EVERYTHING. right down to separating my underwear and taking the memory card out of my camera so that could be individually tested.

Once they were done with my luggage I was stripped down to my underwear and my clothes were checked. The insides of my shoes were checked. They tested the soles of my feet. I’m not kidding about any of this.

All through this they were polite to me and I was polite, and understanding back. One member of the team asked me what seat I would prefer and then went to do the check in for me which was a mild bonus.

All in these checks took just over one hour. When I was done they told me that I could have my hand luggage returned to me at the gate and left me with my wallet, passport and cell phone. It was actually quite a refreshing experience to walk through the airport carrying next to nothing! I’m not sure if I was followed but it may well have been the case.

I knew I wasn’t a terrorist. They didn’t. I wont try to double guess what caused this extreme paranoia on that day but I don’t really care. The only downside is that while they were giving me the 19th degree, it would have been possible for a real bad person not to get the attention they should have.

But, and this is a big but, nobody can make me feel humiliated. Humiliation is a feeling. I control my feelings. I can choose my mood and, if it swings from good to bad because of some external stimulus I know how to swing it right back in short order.

Sure there is racism, sure there are things that hurt your feelings, sure they have to look more closely at Arab Israelis: get over it all already and stop with this nonsense money digging. I’m not surprised to find that the law firm of Messrs Sue, Grabbit and Runne is alive and well in Israel.

About the author

Picture of Brian of London

Brian of London

Brian of London is not the messiah, he's a very naughty boy. Since making aliyah in 2009, Brian has blogged at Israellycool. Brian is an indigenous rights activist fighting for indigenous people who’ve returned to their ancestral homelands and built great things.
Picture of Brian of London

Brian of London

Brian of London is not the messiah, he's a very naughty boy. Since making aliyah in 2009, Brian has blogged at Israellycool. Brian is an indigenous rights activist fighting for indigenous people who’ve returned to their ancestral homelands and built great things.
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