Posted by: John | January 23, 2008

Guilty until proven Innocent! Don’t travel to Israel!

That’s my experience of my short break to Israel the last few days.

Having two friends (one Jewish one non) who were travelling together to Israel I decided to tag along as it’s a country that i have never been to. I also have some sort of personal interest as it’s obvious from my surname and simply how I look that somewhere down the line i have some Eastern European/Jewish blood.

Having travelled to 45 countries I have to say I have never been so ill-treated by Airport Security staff.

I had crossed out a name on the `in case of emergencies` section of my passport from Peter to Mr & Mrs denoting my parents (i thought the former a bit twee at the time). This led to an unbelievable grilling to do with why I had spent five days in Tel Aviv, which museums I’d gone to (did I have receipts?), day to day account of what I’d been up to in Tel Aviv, what I had done years before in Dubai and Bahrain (they didn’t mention Mexico, Finland, Estonia etc etc). This went on for 45 minutes. It was delivered in a typical Israeli scattergun approach – i was hardly able to finish an answer before another one had started.

Once the questions were over the head of security lost interest then went over to somewhere else so I was left standing not knowing what to do until someone beckoned me over so that my luggage could be gone through with a fine tooth comb. Then the Head of Security woman took an interest again. Why had i brought five throw-away cameras (Boots etc) why had I not used any? I had to open the packaging so they could scan them. This lasted another fifteen minutes.

Then i was led to another room with my luggage elsewhere made to empty all pockets so they could scan legs, belt, empty wallet etc etc. The man doing it seemed bemused at yet another person caught up in the Israeli siege mentality.

This all took 75 minutes.

My advice to anyone is DON’T GO TO ISRAEL. I wanted to return to see Jerusalem and Galilee – however, I WON’T GO TO ANYWHERE THAT TREATS ME SO BADLY. The only other place that is crap is USA but they treat everyone as if they’re cattle. This person seemed to single me out for some reason – almost as if they took delight in it. There seemed no protocol as to what to expect.

Why not just go through the luggage straight away – it’s obvious the questions were done as a kind of quasi-religious-cultural way of gaining pleasure at someone elses expense.

To be honest I found the Israelis rude, arrogant, sneaky and mean-minded  – the Head of Security just being a caricature of the some of the ordinary people on the ground.

I spoke to a Jewish couple who’d been asked `What synagogue do they go to in England?`, `What Shoal do they go to?` etc etc – the woman was so upset they allowed them to pass.

I wouldn’t have minded but the purpose of Security staff is to stop weapons, bombs and drugs being taken on board aircraft – not to question the motivation of those leaving their soil. What right was it of this woman to question on a day-by-day basis what i’d been up to in Tel Aviv – should i have wanted to stay in the hotel all the time or just stayed in one mall it would have been my prerogative.

It is also sneaky to have all this questioning when one leaves Israel – it’s almost as if they want you to do the experience for the one time then have the sadistic questioning.

Does anyone know whom I can complain to and publicise this appalling behaviour so as to alert people to my experience.

Before I get shot down by any zionists on here I have to say that I went, as I do anywhere, as if the country’s an open book hoping to take home good things only to find myself turned violently against this one. So much so that I just wanted to get rid of all my maps and money as soon as possible and not buy anything that would bolster their economy.

One has to ask oneself – if they can treat their own kind or British citizens like this – how do they treat the Palestinians?

They should stop this siege mentality that only feeds on itself. The Government should change the personnel at the airports .

At the end of the day I have a choice of travel destinations and where to travel – until there are changes I’m never going back to Israel.

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Responses

  1. John firstly, nobody and nothing is even guilty until proven innocent if you are a liberal. Secondly, yes Israelis are often rude, sharp, and arrogant. However, you can understand rigorous border checks. Unfortunately, Israel and its neighbours don’t quite get on. Indeed, there are a great number of people who think the state shouldn’t exist. If this were the case in say Switzerland, which is a xenophobic enough place as it is, I think the Swiss border police would perform pretty stringent checks. Now I’m not a Zionist, not have I ever been to Israel (but I do have several rude Israeli friends, and I’m not trying to shoot you down but I think we should engage in a little bit of understanding. If we did, maybe we could show Israelis that very often their attitude can be extremely counter production (c.f. your feelings towards the state now, advising people not to go).

  2. The El Al security procedure is designed to piss you off. The theory behind it being that any would be hijackers would betray their intent under such constant questioning. This started after the wave of hijackings in the 60/70’s and El Al is widely considered to have the best airline security system. I may be wrong but I think they also racially profile passengers so if you have a certain name and skin tone as you say that might explain(!) why they singled you out. Having said that I completely agree, it is just a spiral were they believe they need this level of security and the fear just feeds itself. It doesn’t do much for Israeli tourism either.

  3. It wasn’t EL AL but Thomsonfly. My skin colour is caucasian and I have bastardised Eastern European Jewish looks like 2% of Britons. Also it doesn’t explain why the Jewish Leeds couple also had heavy treatment.

    If I get respect I give respect – they should be giving ME understanding as I have taken the time and energy and choice to visit Israel – not piss me off.

    You know I’m so fed up with them that when i saw the wall being pulled down from Gaza to Egypt i cheered.

  4. The title of the posting `Guilty until proven innocent` means that I felt that the Israelis were making me feel guilty until proven innocent!

  5. Right, so being caucasian automatically means that you can’t be a security threat. Remember Ramirez Sanchez? Come on. Just admit you’ve thrown the toys out of the pram. Had a wobbly but now will calm down and return to reality.

  6. It actually makes me more angry – the questions are simply ridiculous and goes to show what happens when you try to make security of gold standard plus.

    It might have been better if i thought there was a point to it all and that i was treated in a courteous manner.


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