Thursday, November 25, 2010

Israel Does It Better

How often in the past few days have I heard some expert or another insist that Israeli-style airport security tactics could never be applied here in North America?  Israel, so the "thinking" goes, has a mere x number of incoming flights while we here in North America have gazillions of them. The number differential alone makes the Israeli way inapplicable here saith the scope 'n' grope promoters.

Nonsense, says Mona Charen, explaining that
Israeli security succeeds by questioning every passenger. What is the purpose of your trip? Who packed your bags? Where will you be staying? The security agents are all army veterans (well, nearly everyone in Israel is), have college degrees, and are fired immediately if they make a mistake. They learn psychological profiles of terrorists as well as how to detect things — like the Irish lady traveling to meet her fiancĂ©’s family without him. That don’t smell right.

While it’s true that Israel has about 1/60th of the air traffic that we do, and it may not be feasible to undertake exactly that kind of examination in our country, we could at least attempt to apply the principle: looking for terrorists rather than weapons. How much longer would it take to ask each passenger a few questions than it does to put them all through the full-body scanner or subject them to a pat-down? Some travelers will be questioned more extensively, but on balance, it probably wouldn’t add any time to the average trip and might even speed it up. And the invasion of privacy would be much less offensive.
Had the Israeli method of probing the person not the stuff been in effect after 9/11, we would not now be forced to participate in all the empty security rituals we have come to know and hate (the ones we go through mostly so we'll feel safe enough to fly)--the sacred removal of the shoes; the display of the precious holy liquids contained in tiny bottles; the dreadful scope 'n' grope scourging.


Backseat Blogger said...

that's not to say that israeli security is flawless - witness the recent strip searching of an eminent scientist invited to visit - but I'd rather their system than the TSAs.

Of course the 'israeli stystem is never going to catch on in the US... that would mean you'd have to profile people. The shock, The horror.

Al the fish said...

I envision, in Canada, that airport security will soon fall under the jurisdiction of Health Canada. Any male traveller over age 40 will be given their annual rectal exam, and women will be screened for breast cancer by the security staff for example. "Now turn your head and cough" will replace the phrase "Did you pack your own bag?"