Security Abuses at B-G Airport

The following is taken from The Third Narrative’s Facebook page:

Ameinu, the sponsor of The Third Narrative, is deeply disturbed by the recent news of the interrogation at Ben Gurion Airport of Laura Mandel, a US citizen and board member of the Abraham Initiatives, an NGO devoted to improving relations between Arabs and Jews in Israel. Ms. Mandel was leaving Israel when during the routine security check she was asked specifically about her work with the non-profit, underwent a lengthy interrogation and separated from her belongings. Ultimately, Ms. Mandel was allowed to fly back to the US, but without any personal items, including her glasses.

Laura Mandel (by David Zanes via AP)

“Clearly, Ms. Mandel’s interrogation went beyond the normal security procedures and was directly related to her co-existence work,” said Kenneth Bob, President of Ameinu. “While understanding the importance of careful security measures, it is unacceptable that a democracy would engage in this kind of harassment whose sole purpose seems only to intimidate perceived opponents of Israel’s current government and deter people from coming to Israel based on their political beliefs.”

Ameinu stands with Ms. Mandel and calls on the government of Israel to review its interrogation procedures and stop the unnecessary harassment at Ben Gurion airport.

This is a comment made at this post by Joelle Bahloul:

I’d like to share a story about my touristic trip to Israel last year (June). I was there with my husband and we spent a week visiting friends and colleagues. No activism whatsoever! Pure pleasure! On our return to the US, we went through security at BG Airport, and we were both asked personal questions. But my husband has an ashkenazic last name and I have an Arabic last name and I was born in Algeria. My husband went through easily and fast. But I was asked questions for about 25 minutes, about my parents’ first names, my mother’s maiden name, my grandparents’ first and last names, their birth places etc… Much discussion between the young security agents and their boss…

I was flabbergasted by those questions and was going to tell them that half of the Israeli population was born in Arab countries and most likely bear Arabic last names. And that these agents need to go back to school to learn Israeli history. But I did not, to avoid further problems. We will go again next month to participate in 2 academic conferences, and I need to prepare for some problems at the security check. Where is the Israel I love and in which I spent several happy years of my youth?

This is from the Times of Israel article on the abusive treatment of Ms. Mandel:

. . . Among other things, the activist recounted being asked why “an American Jew should care about Jewish-Arab relations.”

The woman then underwent an exhaustive examination of her belongings and person and was eventually informed that all of her personal belongings would be sent to the aircraft’s cargo hold. She was not allowed to take her laptop, sweater, glasses, pillow or personal hygiene products. When she protested about not being allowed to bring on board medication she had planned to take, she was given a glass of water and invited to take it in front of security personnel.

The Abraham Initiatives, which has headquarters in Lod, near Tel Aviv, New York City and London, linked Mandel’s interrogation to an increasingly hostile political climate, in which “anyone in contact with Arabs, whether citizen or non-citizen, is labelled a potential threat.” . . .