We Must All Excel in The New Age of Insanity

“The most powerful force in the universe is gossip.” Dave Barry

As a child I watched Bewitched. One of the characters in the show was Gladys Kravitz, the nosy neighbor who excelled at diligently spying on the Stevens’ residence.

As such she saw much more than she ever anticipated, to the chagrin of her long-suffering husband and her own mental health.

Her character was intended to portray that one neighbor or family member constantly watching, snooping and collecting information; the local *gossip in residence* or GIR.

Today the New York based Gladys Kravitzes actually have a mantra. “If you see something; say something.”

Recently in Texas another terrorist crazy with a Jihad handbook on homemade bomb building planned the death of unknown innocents as they went about their daily lives. He is being described as that most dreaded of all crazies: a homegrown terrorist.

What does that mean?

That means that with the constant lack of new manufacturing in America, we seem to be producing, with no problem whatsoever, our own insane crop of people anxious to carry out Jihad against the U.S.

In any missing child story on the news, there is a quote from law enforcement asking for the “public’s help” in finding the victim. There are even Amber Alerts to help citizens catch bad guys.

Why is that?

Simply put, because that strategy works.

Gladys Kravitz is always out there watching.

A savvy gun storeowner who noted the guy’s “odd” behavior and purchase foiled the new Fort Hood nut case’s plan. He was buying gunpowder and asking how to use it. It struck the owner odd he would be buying so much of a product he knew nothing about. Guess this guy knows his customers. Thank goodness for us he does. One report said he was going to target people at a restaurant. I wonder where it is written in the Quran to kill the infidels as they are ordering a Happy Meal.

Seems risky for our country’s security to be suddenly dependent on snoopy, suspicious Americans. Or is it really the best of all circumstances we could hope for?

Last year the-would-be Times Square bomber was brought down by a vendor who noticed his unusual behavior and the car he left parked on the street.

There is however a conundrum for Americans. There is bad gossip and good gossip. How do Americans discern between the two.

The advent of blogs spreading false and hate filled information has leaked into the mainstream media and lies are being spread at an alarming rate.

How is it possible for people to accept gossip and snooping as legitimate? What is the barometer by which to judge worthwhile information?

I suggest using your own eyes and ears, and your Dragnet expertise. As Jack Webb repeated each week, “Just the facts, Ma’am.”

Yes, it is impossible to know what is truthful on the Internet. It is not impossible to spot a crazy with your own eyes.

Guilty people act suspiciously and present significant “tells.” After all, these people are actually gamblers, betting they can kill and maim others.

When someone leaves their car and looks suspiciously around them before they walk away, hmmm.

So what are these so called tells? How can you know someone is lying?

That’s easy, just watch politicians, they are the gold standard for liars. Okay, defense attorneys are a good second best to politicians.

Perhaps we should have “who broke the vase courses” for Americans taught by mothers. Or teach how to spot a liar in schools? Any mother can enter a room with a broken vase on the floor and instantly identify the guilty party. It is usually the child trying hardest to look innocent that she hones in on. And of course, years of gut instinct at work.

There are Israeli methods that have proven so successful in a country rife with homicide bombers. Israel’s counterterrorism strategy comprises of a variety of elements and is a multi level approach, including citizens. They use intelligence collection and analysis and the average Israeli is highly aware of suspicious packages, individuals, and their actions and immediately notifies police.

“If you see something; say something.”

This works because using only common sense and powers of observation, ordinary Israeli citizens prevent more than 80% of attempted terrorist attacks.

Of course the Israelis also use military and paramilitary operations to disrupt terrorist infrastructure. I would like to believe the U.S. is engaged in this methodology, but so far I only know about everyday Americans who have spotted these crazies and stopped them cold.

I wouldn’t expect the CIA to send out a daily list of the terrorists they catch and kill. I am not certain how well that information would go down with our morning dose of Starbucks and a blueberry scone.

Israeli security is adept at spotting dangerous airline passengers. About one percent of travelers are flagged because they are on watch lists. If they seem nervous at the checkpoint, answering questions, or their behavior arouses an officer’s suspicion, they act on it.

If someone is suspicious, do they simply pat them down or wave a joy stick around them? No.

Suspicious people are taken into an intensive screening that lasts about an hour. This includes a personal interview, search of all carry on bags and use of state-of-the-art explosive detection equipment. Even if someone passes the test and there is still any suspicion, the Israelis may allow the person to board a plane, but they seat an armed sky marshal near them who watches them throughout the flight.

Israelis also do behavioral profiling.

Of course the American airports cannot handle such techniques due to sheer volume and a lack of military training of the screeners. And let us not forget the politically correct mantra of the American populace that is against any type of ethnic profiling.

But ordinary citizens can.

If you are standing in line behind someone sweating heavily, that keeps checking to see if an underwear bomb is in tact, could be a sign something is far from kosher.

And I am not suggesting paranoia overtake us; just our common sense.

I have read some suggestions to improve our security. One is based on the principle of reverse profiling. When a ticket is purchased, the Transportation Security Administration would run the passenger’s name through a computerized, government-wide terrorism watch list containing data collected by the FBI, CIA, and other agencies. No database like that exists at this time, but it would enable screeners to focus more closely on those who arouse some suspicion.

If someone is flagged, their carry-on bags and checked luggage would be carefully searched.

Another suggestion already being implemented is using a traveler’s card for frequent flyers that have passed background checks. This would contain a biometric identifier (like facial or eye scans or fingerprints, etc.) with the names stored in a special databank.

These are a few of the methods I have personally seen bandied about, but personally, when I stand in line at airport security, I am diligent and watching other passengers for any weirdo or suspicious behavior. Well, even more than usual anyway.

And I am hoping someone is watching me as well. So much for fearing Big Brother!

With the horrible economy we are experiencing in the United States today, Americans do have a new job. Flushing out terrorists and the payment is saving lives.

I guess this new American profession won’t pay the bills or stimulate the economy, but it is one at which we must all excel in this new age of insanity.

Please use this website tips.fbi.gov/ report suspected terrorism or criminal activity. Your information will be reviewed promptly by an FBI special agent or a professional staff member. Due to the high volume of information that we receive, we are unable to reply to every submission; however, we appreciate the information that you have provided.

Norma Zager is a Jewish woman who lives in the USA.

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 counterpoint from home.

Israel and the United States are interrelated – the two countries we hold dearest to our hearts – and so is this “point – counterpoint” presentation that has, since 2008, become part of our lives.