Monday, April 2, 2012

Public Profiled

It is not everyday one gets profiled. A couple of weeks ago I had an incredible opportunity to spend some time in Israel. On the journey there, I had to go through Israeli security in Newark, New Jersey. This proved to be a trying task. Obviously my dark skin and black hair draws some attention and created a long list of questions by the agent.

The questioning started with the normal questions one would hear when boarding an airplane. Did you pack your own bags? Have your bags been with you the whole time? Did anyone offer you any gifts as part of your journey to the airport? Did anyone give you anything to take with your in your luggage? Of course since 911 most anyone would be crazy to take anything not theirs aboard an aircraft. The questions, however, began to change at that point. The next question was "what is your lineage?" My reply was "excuse me"? I was not expecting this question. She asked me the same question again and I answered my nationality is American. Again she asked me to define my lineage. I told her I did not understand what information she was trying to obtain and then she asked "are you Muslim?" My answer was "no" to which she replied "are you sure?" I told her that I was very sure and then she asked me if I knew any Muslims. I told her I did not know any.

The questioning continued to deteriorate and shortly thereafter I found myself in a small 10 x 10 room somewhere in the airport. In this room I was asked for all of my valuables to be placed in a box. After that, a new series of questions and security checks incurred. The whole process took about an hour and fifteen minutes and ended with an escort onto the plane.

Did I care that I was profiled? No. Actually, it makes me feel that El Al security is one of the tightest in the business. Maybe America can learn a few things from Israel about how to take care of the people you call yours.

Blessings and Shalom,
Doug Johnson

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