Until maybe the mid-eighties, “terror target” and “Israel” were more or less synonymous – going back hundreds of years, reaching a peak over the past seventy years or so.
In response, the State of Israel has become very punctilious about learning the who, what, where and why of terror. It is a matter of individual and national survival, for a people that spent the middle of the Twentieth Century being shot, starved, gassed and burned nearly out of existence in what Helen Thomas called their homeland.
To Israelis, it’s serious business.
To Americans, it’s part ritual, and part make-work program. We’ve been subjected to three serious terror attacks on our own soil. One, the first World Trade Center bombing, failed due to its conspirators’ incompetence and, I’d like to think, the providence of a merciful God. One – Oklahoma City – was the work of a pair of solitary madmen, or so says our government. And of course, September 11.
Other attacks – the shoe-bomber, the underwear bomber – failed due to incompetence, possibly caused by the part of countererrorism we do well; going overseas and finding the professionals and killing them, forcing terrorists to go with the red-shirt squad for going after the US. Still others – Fort Hood, the murder in Little Rock – were relatively (!) small-scale, apparently-spontaneous outbursts.
We’ve been able to afford to skate on “airport security” that exists more to serve as a bureaucratic feel-good – like “Zero Tolerance” policies – while conforming to current fashions in political correctness – because a generation of terrorist A-squads were killed in Iraq, are laying low and watching the sky in Pakistan or Afghanistan, are holed up in the jungles of Indonesia and the Philippines listening for out-of-place twig snaps, or are sitting in Guantanamo fielding residual offers from Oliver Stone.
There’ll be more. There always are. And this past month’s uproar over the Transportation Security Administration’s intrusive-yet-useless groping of random Americans has prompted the conscientious to ask “how do countries with real commitments to keeping travel safe do it?
Jeff Dunetz, er, profiles security, Israeli-style.
I’ll start with the conclusion:
As the United States defends against the ever expanding threat of Muslim terror, right here on our home turf, success depends on throwing off the shackles of political correctness and adopting the methods of our ally Israel.
However the US is stuck in what seems to be an irreversible and deadly policy of treating everyone the same., even though we are all individuals and very different. The ultimate result is an airport security process that gives you a choice of being abused by a machine or the groping hands of an untrained TSA agent. The present TSA policies put passengers and the X-Ray appliances that reveal their bare bodies in the same category as they are both treated like machines.
During her 62 year fight against terror, Israel has achieved a balance between protection of civil liberties and the prevention of violence. Her decision was that the sanctity of saving human lives and preserving personal dignity, outweighs the targeting and possible inconvenience of the extra questioning of a few.
One key difference? The goal of Israeli security is very different than that of the TSA’s inspection:
The real difference between the Israeli and American approach is the target. Israel tries to identify and stop the terrorist while the U.S. targets the bomb or other weapon. This approach does not change whether there is a left or right wing Prime Minister in power because the government realizes for Israel, the fight against terrorism is a fight for its very survival. Thus her government and citizenry have a view of preventing terrorism that is unencumbered by the political correctness which restrains efforts in the United States.
The ISA (Israeli Security Agency) calls it “human factor.” Some part of that human factor would cause Al Sharpton to show up to picket the Airport if it was practiced in the US. Ethnic profiling of passengers plays a central role in Israel’s multi-level approach. Not just ethnicity is profile, race religion, general appearance and behavior are also part of the information used to profile. And wherever that profile is being made, no matter what country it is being made in, it is an Israeli doing the profile.
While this past month of public, crowd-sources scrutiny has uncovered numerous stories of TSA incompetence and depravity, I’ll resist the urge to jump on the bandwagon of calling TSA staffers universal incompetents because they are low-wage government employees with little, and indifferent training. I know a few TSA people, and know them to be genuinely concerned with security.
I also know a few people who are genuinely interested in first aid; I wouldn’t let them take out my kids’ appendixes:
There are other differences, most importantly is that you don’t just come off the street and get a job with the ISA (Israel Security Agency). These security agents are all ex-military (as most of the country is) and they are selected based on their intelligence and their ability to behavior profile.
Read the whole thing; it includes excellent insights on Israeli “profiling” and the techniques they use.
And remember it the next time you “fly”.