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Palestinian celebrity gets the 'Jewish sticker' at Ben-Gurion Airport

On the one hand it’s obvious the young man has just made my life easier by putting on the sticker for Jews. On the other hand, it’s one of the things that it’s hard to say thanks for. I mean, thank you for not considering me a terrorist any more? — Actress Mira Awad’s tale of Israeli airport security.

Actress Mira Awad (Urga41/CC)

Palestinian Christian singer Mira Awad, a celebrity in Israel who has participated in the Eurovision, the Israeli version of “Dancing with the Stars” and is also known for her role in Sayed Kashua’s television sitcom “Arab Labor,” posted the following status on her Facebook page today:

So, I was checked at the airport, they asked the questions, put the stickers on, and I proceeded to the X-Ray machine. Suddenly, the young security man comes to me: “Mira? Mira Awad?”

Me: “Yes?”

Security man: “Can I see your passport? There’s a mistake with the sticker.”

I almost told him: “No, you’re not mistaken, I see you put the right one on — the sticker for Arabs”, but I didn’t say that (security people have their humor extracted during their preparatory course). I gave him my passport, he opens it, takes off the sticker in the passport and on the suitcase and puts on a new one, different, the same color but smaller.

Now the dilemma. On the one hand it’s obvious the young man has just made my life easier by putting on the sticker for Jews. On the other hand, it’s one of the things that it’s hard to say thanks for. I mean, thank you for not considering me a terrorist any more? Thanks that someone whispered to you, “it’s Mira Awad,” so the “Awad” isn’t scary anymore? Thanks for upgrading me to a Class A citizen? I turned into one of “ours,” or actually one of “yours.” A small sticker that carries with it such huge humiliation, and today even enfolds stupidity. Because since they cancelled the stickers with different colors, which we protested, they made new stickers with less recognizable differences to the inexperienced eye, and here they are embarrassing themselves with unaware patronizing like, “Let’s award you with the status of a privileged person!” — so you don’t say that we aren’t humane. By the way, it happend to me also last week, when a senior security man who wanted to “show off” (maybe you’ll say he wanted to joke around, but we’ve already concluded that he doesn’t know how to joke around, see earlier “extraction of humor”) and asked one of his employees to get me one of the “regular” stickers and then winked at me as he continued to speak him: “Can’t you see it’s Mira Awad?”

So, the conclusion is, if you’re Israeli and your name is Awad – you better be famous! If not, forget about the duty free! Yalla, I’m out of here. For now.

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  • COMMENTS

    1. THAK’S TO IS LADY FOR REPRESENT TO WOMAN PALESTINE

      Reply to Comment
    2. rsgengland

      Possibly because Mira Awad is no longer viewed as a risk, she is no longer treated as one.
      Instead of finding the negative in everything, lets try and upgrade everyone to this status.
      Best way to that is by negotiations between legitimate parties, and the changing of stereotypes and hateful propaganda on both sides.

      Reply to Comment
      • But Mira Awad is viewed as a risk. A famous risk. When celebrities get harassed at natbag, there is a risk that the security personnel will get into hot water afterwards when the story of their behaviour leaks into the media – as they found out when they gave the ‘Arab treatment’ to the prizewinning author Sayed Kashua. They can get away with treating everyday Palestinian citizens/Jerusalemite residents in this way (ask Leen who comments on this site for a run-down of her lovely airport experiences) but it gets a little harder when it’s ‘that woman from the TV’ as opposed to just any old Arab.

        And if you lived with this whenever you travelled, you’d be feeling a bit negative about it too.

        Reply to Comment
        • Leen

          Ah yes Vicky, the difference between the standard ‘security’ check and what they do at Ben Gurion is the security personnels have no problem saying it to your face that the reason they are doing this is because you are an Arab.

          The questions they ask aswell at the airport security checks are aimed at humiliating you and making you feel that you do not belong here. ‘Where are you from?’ ‘Jerusalem’, ‘But where originally’, ‘How long have you been in Israel?’… as if I’m some immigrant with no attachment or belonging to this land. And of course they know I was born and raised in Jerusalem, it says so in travel document.

          So my question to Rsg, how do you ‘become’ a non-security risk? Are Arab children security risks as well? Are families, too? What is it do I need to do to ‘prove’ to Ben Gurion that I am not a security threat (I am guessing that the 100+ times I flew from Ben Gurion does not qualify, right?). Do I need to convert to Judaism? Change my name? Embrace Zionism? I would love to know what exactly makes you a ‘non’ security threat.

          Reply to Comment
          • The last time but one that I flew from Ben-Gurion I discovered that they had a new strategy. As usual, I had given the security staff my entire life story. I had been separated from my luggage, my laptop, and my phone while they searched all three. I had fielded the usual graceful questions such as, “Are all your friends in Israel Jewish?” After two and a half hours of this, I got to go through to my gate, where I was sitting happily reading a book and drinking some tea when a strange woman approached. “Hi, I’m a tourism representative, here to find out people’s experiences of Israel. How was your experience of our hotels, our restaurants, our public transport in Tel Aviv, our public transport in Jerusalem, our public transport in the West Bank – have you been to the West Bank, Bethlehem, to see the famous church?”

            It was done marginally more subtly than that, but not greatly so. I had trouble keeping my eyebrows at their normal level. I gave a courteous description of the fun I had had eating ice cream on the Tel Aviv beaches and then wandering along the tayelet humming HaTikva to myself (well, not that last part) and five minutes before we were called for boarding she left me alone. And didn’t stop to question any other ‘tourist’, oddly enough.

            Reply to Comment
    3. rico

      My sticker carried a barcode, a number & a big six.

      Reply to Comment
      • I don’t even bother to examine my sticker any more. Seeing it and calculating the hours of questioning that it represents only disheartens me, and I have decided that the whole thing is more fun if I treat it like Christmas and retain an element of surprise.

        Reply to Comment
    4. dickerson3870

      RE: “. . . Security man: ‘Can I see your passport? There’s a mistake with the sticker.’ I almost told him: ‘No, you’re not mistaken, I see you put the right one on — the sticker for Arabs’. . . ” ~ Mira Awad

      AND, LIKE IT OR NOT, IT’S COMING TO U.S. AIRPORTS:
      “Boston airport security program rife with racial profiling has Israeli links”, by Alex Kane, Mondoweiss.net, 8/14/12
      [EXCERPTS] Security officers at Boston’s Logan International Airport have come under fire for the widespread racial profiling of Arabs, Muslims, Blacks and Hispanics in their zeal to ferret out terrorists.
      The ‘New York Times’ broke the story over the weekend after officers who requested anonymity came forward;
      some officers have complained internally to the Transportation Security Agency as well. A Massachusetts lawmaker has called for congressional hearings on the racial profiling allegations.
      The ‘Times’ reports that officers estimated that “80 percent” of passengers “searched during certain shifts” were people of color. What’s more, the Boston airport “is the testing ground for an expanded use of behavioral detection methods at airports around the country.”
      But what’s not touched on in the ‘Times’ report is the fact that Logan International’s security procedures are modeled on Israel’s policies at their own airport–policies that are blatantly racist. . .
      . . . The Israel connection is integral to understanding Boston’s racial profiling problems. In 2009, according to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Jerusalem Post reported that “Boston’s Logan Airport has tapped the Israeli company New Age Security Solutions to help secure the facility using Behavior Pattern Recognition.” . . .
      . . . It took until August 2011 for the Israeli-inspired model to be operationalized. That was the date when the “behavioral profiling” became an official model at Boston’s airport–and this was “a direct result” of “Israeli influence” on security procedures at the airport, according to the Associated Press.
      Fast-forward to the New York Times story. The ‘Times’ reports that one anonymous TSA officer complained that this “behavior detection program is no longer a behavior-based program, but [rather] a racial profiling program.”
      To observers of how Israeli security works at Ben Gurion Airport, the allegations of racial profiling will come as no surprise. Palestinian and Arab travelers at Ben Gurion are guaranteed to be harassed by Israeli security. . .
      ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://mondoweiss.net/2012/08/boston-airport-security-program-rife-with-racial-profiling-has-israeli-links.html

      Reply to Comment
    5. Robin

      Going thru BG twice a month, not Jewish so I know the hassle. However when my wife joins me, she is Jewish, we hardly get any questions nor does my luggage get checked. When travelling without here, I have the full treatment, body searches included. The whole selection at BG security is rascist of nature and not focused on actual security. Waiting for the day that some Jewish lunatic tries something.

      Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        >The whole selection at BG security is rascist of nature and not focused on actual security.

        Facts are:
        A. No Jew ever carried out terrorist attack in BGA or onboard planes bound to BGA.

        B. Non-Jews carried out multiple terrorist attacks in BGA or onboard planes bound to BGA

        C. No terrorist attacks were carried out after implementing draconian security measures.

        D. There is no shortage of those who’d like to bring down a plane full of Zionists.

        Obviously, security people are doing their job well enough.

        >Waiting for the day that some Jewish lunatic tries something.

        Oh, yeah. Petty Judeophobes such as yourself would love to see Jews killing each other, like our neighbours are doing.

        I suggest that you bring an IED next time you come to Israel with your wife. If you’d succeed in carrying it through and using it – even without causing any casualties – that would certainly change security routines.

        Reply to Comment
        • Ignatz

          Profiling is the problem. It uses a stupid pseudo-scientific probablilistic approach to determine who is a risk and who isn’t: and this pseudo-science is used in practice to mask racist assumptions.

          So security staff profile for age, gender, ethnicity, religion, travel history, profession, as well as the answers to a couple of stock questions, and use these factors to determine “risk” based on who has carried out terrorist attacks in the past.

          But the whole point is that the past is not a prediction of the future. Nobody knows who will be carrying out the next terrorist attack. By profiling at all, security staff are dramatically increasing the risk that a terrorist who doesn’t match the profile will be successful. A truly indiscriminate, random approach to security screening would be much safer.

          So yes, profiling is racist in practice if not in design; and no, it doesn’t make you safer.

          Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            >But the whole point is that the past is not a prediction of the future.

            Yes, cap.

            >Nobody knows who will be carrying out the next terrorist attack.

            Chances that it would be Jewish Israeli are next to none, which means that there is no point in checking Israeli Jews.

            >By profiling at all, security staff are dramatically increasing the risk that a terrorist who doesn’t match the profile will be successful. A truly indiscriminate, random approach to security screening would be much safer.

            Nonsense.
            There is no danger from those who are profiled as Israeli Jews, meaning that there is no reason to check them.
            By the way, you have no idea how the security system in BG works – there is much more than profiling.

            >So yes, profiling is racist in practice if not in design; and no, it doesn’t make you safer.

            A question of morality – is it permitted to use racist practices to prevent racist killings?

            As of not making me safer – I dare you to prove it.

            Reply to Comment
    6. dany

      Guess it’s only copyright infringement that prevents from marking unwanted people with bright stickers on clothes, or?

      Reply to Comment
    7. Suzanne Sapir

      Never knew about the difference in stickers. And don’t understand the reasoning behind it, One u r cleared, what is the need to mark .arabs differently??? So many things don’t make any sense in this country!!!! So many unjust policies

      Reply to Comment
    8. Bryan

      I’ve been through BG airport many times and not noticed any stickers….and certainly not one for jews and one for arabs. Israel has a big security problem being surrounded by countries and organisations like Hamas and Hezbollah that want to destroy it. Israel faces terrorist bombs and attacks every day and has to protect its citizens (Jews and Arabs).

      Reply to Comment
      • raf

        ha ha ha..

        Reply to Comment
    9. Judy

      Oh Pleeease! There’s no such thing as a “Jewish” sticker. Why do people always have to make mountains out of molehills and invent things simply to demonise Israel. Stickers at airport security identify people who have been passed by security and do not pose any kind of risk. Does anyone have a better suggestion?

      Reply to Comment
      • Leen

        There’s number 1, which I have never, ever seen anyone acquire that number except for hasidic/orthodox jews. I’ve flown over 70 times from Ben Gurion, I have never seen that number given to anyone, nor have I ever heard from anyone else, except for Hasidic/Orthodox Jews. SO I think it is safe to say it is a ‘Jewish’ sticker, sadly.

        Reply to Comment
        • Haifawi

          I didn’t see any of the numbered stickers last time I flew from Ben Gurion, only the Yellow Bar Code that they stick on your luggage and passport and then scan at the various checkpoints. (I got the jewish treatment anyway. Sometimes they actually open my passport and see the scary arabic visa stamps and I get a bit more questions, but never a search, because I’m able to answer their questions in the way they want, if not truthfully).

          Reply to Comment
    10. Aishe

      Half of the so called Palestinians where Jews who must converted under the Ottoman Empire if they don´t wanted to loose their land.The rest are Arabs from every arab country,you can see it by their family names.Even the Hamas said there are NO Palestinians.

      Reply to Comment
    11. GG Love

      so the airport of a jewish homeland favours jews who are deemed to be lower security risk. thats not wrong or a surpirse. and after paying in blood for 2000 years, thanks but its our right.

      Reply to Comment
    12. N.S.

      It is very sad that security at Ben Gurion airport feel it is necessary to give different stickers, and consider all Israeli Arabs suspicious. However, it is done because they want to save lives. Terrorism is a very real threat and many people have been murdered or maimed because of it.
      Do you have a better suggestion?
      Hoping for true peace soon.
      N.S.

      Reply to Comment
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