Joseph Dana writes: Israel’s famed airport security has just become tighter. American tourists have recently reported that their personal emails have been targeted by Israeli officials upon arrival in the country.
Strict and unapologetic airport security is closely associated with Israel’s international image, despite the fact that such caution borders on the absurd when it comes to foreigners of Palestinian origin or those suspected of Palestine-related activism. In the post-September 11 environment of security paranoia, the Israeli model is among the most stringent. It is a model some in the United States wish to emulate.
The dark side to this security, which includes racial profiling and in most cases a complete disregard of civil rights, is becoming increasingly difficult to conceal. This past April, with much international fanfare, Israel deported a number of European activists who attempted to travel to the occupied West Bank through Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport. Their experience of detainment, interrogation and deportation symbolised Israel’s approach to maintaining control of the West Bank. The treatment that some tourists receive at Tel Aviv’s airport is deeply connected to Israel’s infrastructure of occupation.
Israel’s image as a small country surrounded by enemies has been carefully designed to rationalise its extensive programme of racial profiling. From West Bank checkpoints to queues outside of bus stations in Tel Aviv, anyone with even indicators of anything associated with Palestinians is subjected to interrogation by the security apparatus.
Last week, security officials deported Sandra Tamari, an American of Palestinian origin, after eight hours of questioning. Ms Tamari was targeted because of her involvement with Palestinian solidarity organisations that support the global campaign to boycott Israel. In the course of hours of questioning, officials demanded that Ms Tamari open her personal email account for review. [Continue reading…]