Outcry Against Pat-Downs in The US

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During the many stops of my international flight, I was only stopped in Frankfurt, twice as a matter of fact.

In the United States, my suitcases were not even checked, and there were many things in them that might appear suspicious at first glance and would have required a secondary inspection.

In Europe, no one paid much attention. I left the airport on foot, toting a carryon heavy enough to contain a bomb, circled the airport and returned.

It was only my insistence to check out a certain lounge that twice subjected me to a pat down.

The first time I left on my shoes and belt. Interestingly, shoes do not require removal as a matter of course, as in the USA. So the second time I took my belt off, emptied my pockets and offered to take my shoes off (the offer was refused). I was again subjected to a pat down and the shoes were sent for a secondary inspection. At the very least, the machines are calibrated to produce consistent results.

Israelis, who engage in “behavioral profiling” usually dismiss me for whatever reason. To the Europeans I look somewhat Middle Eastern, with a heavy accent, but relative to the numbers of Muslims -both men and women-I am actually quite “White.” No reason to suspect me when almost all the workers at the lounges, the service counters and elsewhere are Muslim.

I thought of the outcry against pat-downs in the USA. Is it that TSA agents are not professional enough and extend their reach just a bit too long? I would suspect this is not the case. Maybe we are too sensitive when our “liberties” are threatened, when the conveniences of normal life are attacked and a change is required?

There is a third alternative: Pat-downs and other security measures in the USA anger the general population because deep in our hearts we know they are useless. We insist on staying as far away as possible from “Profiling,” even though “behavioral” or other profiling is exactly the remedy needed. It offends our deepest sensitivities so TSA agents target four- and ninety-year-old alike, neither of which has ever been involved in a terrorist attack.

We should recognize our life was irreversibly changed with the September 11 th attack. The transition is still in motion, and the odds are our lives will be further inconvenienced.

I remember hosting the Israeli Fire and Life Safety Commissioner in Los Angeles. At UCLA for a short campus tour, he found it difficult to understand why no one was checking the bags of any students or others entering campus. In Israel, one cannot enter a shopping mall, university or restaurant without such a check. Simply put, there were too many terrorist attacks-and even more attempts thwarted- so that Israelis have no other choice.

Security services both private and governmental must learn from the Israeli experience and be as professional as possible: always on the alert, but also using common sense, both of which seem to be in short supply nowadays.

The public needs to be more tolerant, understanding the inconveniences to which we are subjected are here to stay and designed to (more-or-less) protect us. Instead of complaining, we should smile and keep quiet.

In this respect, Muslims who truly want to be part of society bear a greater burden. More than anyone they need – and are best equipped – to fight against the “extreme” elements from within their own religion. They are well aware terrorism is practiced and Islamists would use any means possible, from deceit to murder (for murder of non-Believers is not prohibited, rather is encouraged to achieve their goals of domination).

Any professional service will subject them to the same disgraceful pat down or other “interrogation” to which I am at times subjected. Do not take offense or go on media ranting and file lawsuits accusing the world of targeting your group. The professionals have a duty to uphold, a standard to achieve. Your position is not any different than mine when I was singled out among a crowd of thousands gathered to hear the Israeli Prime Minister of Defense.

My press credentials were carefully analyzed, as was my ID. Questions were asked and a thorough physical exam carried out (after traces of explosives were found). I knew it must have been a mistake and looked at the whole exercise as a test of the security services. I felt like a plant, to evaluate operatives in the field.

It is all your point of reference, and one who has nothing to hide should excuse any such inconvenience as a very small cost for safety. A new wrinkle in our travel fabric put on us by the radical Islamists trying to conquer the world. Remember, before them there was no need for these new measures.

Thus, the next time you are patted down or undergo an examination that seems to target you and no one else, channel your anger against those who have created a need for such measures, not those carrying out their jobs.

In the series “Postcards from Israel,” Ari Bussel and Norma Zager invite readers throughout the world to join them as they present reports from Israel as seen by two sets of eyes: Bussel’s on the ground, Zager’s counter-point from home. Israel and the United States are inter-related – the two countries we hold dearest to our hearts – and so is this “point – counter-point” presentation that has, since 2008, become part of our lives.