Skip to comments.While US flying Becomes More Painful, El Al Continues Effective Security
Posted on 08/14/2006 1:52:34 PM PDT by marshmallow
Doing more thinking about the new, more onerous restrictions on what you can carry on board flights today, Im reminded that El Al, as far as Ive been able to tell, has never had an in-air attack on one of its aircraft via a weapon smuggled on board. How do they do it? After all, they are target Number One of every Islamic terrorist in the world. And they dont do it by making every passenger submit to multiple indignities and force them to fly bereft of their possessions.
The difference is that while the Transportation Security Administration screens out weapons, El Al screens out terrorists. While the TSA would not mind a weaponless terrorist on board a US flight, El Al on the other hand has no problem with a regular civilian with a potential weapon.
And they do it with a tool that the TSA, the Bush administration, and the entire left-wing establishment refuses to use: Profiling.
What El Al does to secure its flights
For decades El Al has taken its security much more seriously than the US ever has. When you check in for an El Al flight, their representative will ask you so many questions, youll wonder if youre taking a flight or applying for a job. Not just the silly Did you pack your bags questions either, but detailed inquiries into your reason for flying, where you are coming from, your background, your job, and so on. (Heres an October 2001 USA Today article on El Als security screening.) And once on board, theres even more security, including armed guards.
El Al knows that they have much more to fear from a 35-year-old college-educated Muslim from Saudi Arabia who has spent time in Pakistan and who has a chemical engineering degree and a history of attendance at radical mosques than they do from a 90-year-old grandmother from Winchester, Illinois, carrying a bottle of Gatorade on board to stay hydrated on her flight. Heck, Grandma Millie (thats really Melanies grandmother) would probably be allowed to board carrying a machete.
Reading the 10/01 article, Im dismayed at what weve failed to do and lessons not learned in the past five years.
For Americans considering an end to free and easy flying in the USA, El Al provides a glimpse of what might lie ahead after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. [Unfortunately, not an accurate prediction.] ... Despite their current anxieties, Americans also might balk at El Al-style ethnic profiling. Staff scrutinize the passengers names, dividing them into low-risk (Israeli or foreign Jews), medium-risk (non-Jewish foreigners) and extremely high-risk travelers (anyone with an Arabic name). These people automatically are taken into a room for body and baggage checks and lengthy interrogation. Single women also are considered high-risk, for fear they might be used by Palestinian lovers to carry bombs.
To sift out who is who, screeners usually begin by asking passengers whether they understand any Hebrew, which most Jews do. Officials argue that such blatant discrimination is necessary.
... In fact, El Als security kicks in long before the passenger will notice. Call an El Al office in any city to book a ticket, and your name will be checked against a computer list of terrorist suspects compiled by Interpol, the FBI, Shin Bet (Israels intelligence service) and others.
... Once you board, up to five armed undercover agents will travel with you in strategic aisle seats, ready for attack. Furthermore, like many Israelis, cabin crews are former soldiers in the Israeli military who have received combat training. The cockpit door, of reinforced steel, is locked from the inside before passengers board and is opened only after everyone has disembarked at their destination. No matter whats going on in the rest of the plane, it is never opened during flight.
... By El Als standards, my screening was light only 10 minutes of questioning by two well-paid officials with full military training. It ended with one of them locking all the zippers on my suitcase with plastic ties.
... A lot happens behind the scenes, too. Once luggage moves from the check-in desk to the conveyer belt, it is put in a pressurized box that detonates any explosive before the bag is loaded on the plane, Dror says. No unaccompanied bags are allowed. Those bags remain behind.
By contrast, our new government bureaucracy has given us pat-downs of 10-year-old girls, grandmothers forced to remove their shoes, mothers forced to taste test their own bottled breast milk, and hundreds of thirsty passengers forced to sit through transcontinental flights without books, music, or movies to pass the time. All because we dont want to take the politically incorrect step of profiling. Im glad political correctness trumps safety and convenience.
Maybe we should outsource the TSA to Israel.
You know how many muslims live in britain? The inconvenience wouldnt be to 'some' muslims, and the rioting in the streets that would follow would be unpleasant to say the least. You know what happened in bradford just a few years ago?
Riots can easily be contained through the widespread use of live ammo, fragmentation grenades, and flamethrowers.
Doing a little fishing are we?
Most civil servants I know are pretty normal and decent people. The bureaucracies are truly mystifying.
From what I can see, the TSA will never hold a candle to the post office monster. I was watching a friend deliver mail once from accross the street, and he had a bureaucrat three paces behind him counting each step.
Although, they might, I say - MIGHT - give you a little slack if they know you're flyinh El Al.
It's El Al that insists on such procedures, not the "Israelis." When we visited Israel in March, those who checked us in asked some questions, but did not open and check any of our bags after they went through the scanner, though they checked the bags of others in our group. Indeed, they checked the bags of the Jewish passengers more intently than they did ours. We flew Continental out of Tel Aviv.
Bettenelli leaves the impression that no one but Arabs have their bags or shoes checked. That is simply not true, based on our experience.
"Americans might balk at El Al-style ethnic profiling"? I'm laughing so hard I'm crying. Oh wait, I'm just crying.
Exactly. The Tel-Aviv airport is deserted except at certain times when tourists are coming and going, and most of the tourists and other business people do not come into Israel on El-Al.
We noticed Israeli security folks digging through the bags of American non-Hasidic Jews and were surprised by it, especially when they didn't look through the bags of over half the pasty-faced white couples who went on our tour.
This person that "squeals for having to remove their shoes" (or more precisely, refuses to fly and now drives instead) does so not because airport security is an affront to dignity but because it is an affront to dignity that is put on for show and doesn't have anything to do with terrorism.
The indignities of an El Al type check are inflicted for the sake of real security which makes them infinitely more tolerable.
You're right. We should cavity search each and every passenger to make sure they don't have hidden bombs up their butts.
Get a clue.
You really think thats going to happen in england?
Six of the world's ten busiest airports by passenger  are in the US with Atlanta [86 million] and O'Hare [77 million] leading the pack. Heathrow is third with 68 million followed by Tokyo [63 million], LA [61 million], and Dallas [59 million].
I have flown El Al into Tel Aviv and was impressed with the security screening, but there is no way we can replicate it given our passenger volume.
Oh, I agree... but everyone doesnt have as riotous proclivities as some.
El Al profiles. What a concept huh?
Thank you for noting this!
On a similar note, when I once visited Belarus I was warned that they would dump out my bags and all sorts of horror stories. They did not. I was honest with them and they saw no threat, so they bid me happy vacation.
If only our own security could do as well.
The "profilers" were a couple of kids. They let my wife and I pass through, and checked the bags of several 65 and 70 year old ladies who were much less of a threat than we were.
The whole thing looked random to me.
It was, however, very orderly and efficient.
When we got back to Newark, going through customs was chaos. Too few agents, too many people.
I could have been bringing in 100 pounds of coke and they would have never known it.
Coming back in to the USA, I could have brought a rocket launcher and a camel. In my shorts. If the camel would fit.