A friend of mine traveled to Israel last month. One of things he reported was that the security check begins to take place even before the traveler reaches the airport. Outside of Tel Aviv airport at a roadblock, Johnny Jet told me that the interrogation began right there, with lots of questions about why and where he was going and an intense grilling about his family and about his intentions.
In Israel, nobody pretends that profiling is a bad idea, or that there is any reason not to do this. This country knows exactly who wants to destroy them, and they are dead set that they’ll do whatever they can to catch the real bad guys. Their track record is impressive–El Al the national carrier has not had incidents of hijacking anywhere near the problems that other airlines have had.
Contrast this with where your correspondent is right now…good old New Zealand. When we had to change planes to board a domestic flight from Auckland to Wellington, it was casual, fun, and nobody had to take off their shoes. Tomorrow we’ll fly from the small town of Nelson to Christchurch and then again down to Queenstown. Nobody will be that concerned about who we are, nobody will assume that we’re out to get them…no grandmothers will be asked to be searched, and I am pretty sure that if I leave a water bottle in my carry-on, nobody will object.
Now, on the other hand, if I had a package of grapes, or god forbid, a toad in my boot, well that would be a big, big problem. Down in this part of the world, the biggest fear is invasive plants, foreign insects and natural things which will do terrible harm to the environment. There are 70 million possums down here eating 21,000 tons of bush every night. There are poisoning programs and trapping programs, and still, 95% of Kiwi eggs get eaten by rats, stoats and possums.
Terrorists are least of their problems down here, so tomorrow should be a breeze through security.