Wednesday, 30 December 2009

I'm cold

...so cold. At least, after the miserable weather in London this week, *winter* in Tel Aviv will be a welcome change.

Leaving Ben Gurion last week:

Stern Faced Child Playing At Security Expert (leafing through my British passport): What is the origin of your name?

Me: Nigerian

SFCPASE (Eyebrows raised): Algerian?

Me: No, Nigerian

SFCPASE: What language do you speak with your siblings at home?

I was tempted to tell her to watch Entourage, to get an idea of the potty language that we use. But instead, I humoured her by assuring her that we don't speak Arabic. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see an olive skinned type being escorted decorously to an inner sanctum...

No point going into the pros and cons of ethnic profiling: I have my views, and others have theirs. So be it. But I do object to surly, incompetent small children with no discernible skills other than the capacity to regurgitate stock phrases and questions - I can recite them by heart, and have actually pre-empted them by finished them off once or twice, just so we could get over the preliminaries and move on to taking my luggage apart - determining whether I am a security risk or not. I gather that the job is poorly paid, and many of the petulant children are actually moonlighting students, looking to earn a few extra bucks between classes.

Good for them: but as someone said told me once: pay peanuts, get monkeys. They really don't make me feel any safer, to be quite honest...

Meanwhile, whilst I've been freezing my butt off here in London, some stupid sorry-arsed incompetent Nigerian tried to blow himself up on a plane. As if the *good* name of our country hasn't been dragged through the mud enough already... Amidst all the hand wringing about how he evaded no-fly lists and security to actually get to Detroit, I rather suspect that flying back to Ben Gurion tonight is going to be no fun at all. British passport or not.

I may be gone some time...

7 comments:

Tim said...

Naively, I thought I'd get less hassle once I got an Israeli passport... In fact, it just makes 'em even more confused. Much whispered conferring with "supervisors", the usual questions, and finally "how come you have an Israeli passport, when you don't have an Israeli name?".

At JFK they gave me the treatment usually reserved for Arabs by separating me from by bags and then escorting me personally to the gate when the plane finally boarded.

You get used to it, sort of.

Adam Ehad said...

Oh dear. I imagine your life is about to get harder due to your terrorist compatriot. But be thankful that you are not this dude: http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/archives/airplane_toilet_terrorist/
Apparently, a Nigerian on the very next flight as the "toilet terrorist" locked himself in the toilet for over an hour due to "shilshul", and the crew broke down the door and dragged him out!
There is a piece about ethnic profiling in this weeks Jerusalem Post, saying how wonderful it is...

Goy said...

In fairness, the worst experience I have had was not in Israel, but in the United States. The burly fellow, after almost ripping my passport off its spine, asked why I had visited Israel and Egypt (Answer - Israeli wife, honeymoon in Sinai), why I was flying without my wife (Answer - seven months pregnant), and then demanded that I say something in Hebrew. I was a bit tired and irritable, and without thinking said something rather uncomplimentary about his mother (Mrs Goy started off by teaching me street Hebrew, sadly). Fortunately, he didn't pick up on it.

He then kindly explained that I had been selected for an *enhanced* check because my passport appeared to be defaced. When I pointed out that he had done the defacing, he turned nasty again and threatened to have me deported on the spot. Charming.

Natalie said...

Speaking as an American, though one who lives abroad (in a country that will deny you entry if you have an Israeli stamp in your passport) please do not think we Yanks think anything about being from Nigeria had anything to do with that yahoo's actions. Anyone with half a brain knows that nutcases can come from anywhere. The USA has plenty!

Tsofah said...

For what it's worth, I'm fair skinned and fair haired (sort of) and was questioned thoroughly at Ben Gurion as to why had I come to Israel, why did I like Israel, why was I returning to the states, what did I do while in Israel, had anyone approached me, etc., etc., etc.

And, I have often times since wondered by the U.S. doesn't screen in the same manner.

Perhaps that is because the security interviewer thanked me for caring as I was handed my luggage and went to the ticket counter.

I still think their methods of delay and questioning and watching for certain body language, etc., is something the states could find helpful.

Goy said...

@Natalie - agreed.
@Tsofah - I wouldn't mind so much if the checks were always carried out politely and efficiently. And one cannot deny the need to 'screen'. However...my wife was gobsmacked the first time she flew out of the country with me. She'd never received that level of scrutiny. And to presume that one is suspect simply because one is not Israeli - or, to be precise, Israeli and Jewish - is a bit troubling...

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