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I was profiled in Israel

I was profiled in Israel

And in Amsterdam.

Do I look dangerous? (Wait, don’t answer that.)

I must have at about 3 a.m. Israel time as I entered Ben-Gurion Airport for my 4:50 a.m. flight to Boston through Amsterdam.

As I entered the terminal, long before the security checks, I was pulled aside by some guy I didn’t even notice before, and asked to empty my pockets and open my bags on a table. I then was asked a series of question. I don’t even remember what they were.

I was allowed to go, and then went through the usual security checks other passengers go through.

I’m still trying to figure out which profile I fit:

(1) Dazed and Confused middle-aged guy wandering aimlessly while seemingly on a mission.

(2) Strangely-shaped traveler with possible false “pregnant” belly concealing contraband or explosives.

(3) Sunglasses at night? Step aside, let’s talk, Mr. Bond.

So what do you think?

It must have been something about me, because a similar thing happened to me in Amsterdam.

Security seemed very high there. There was a standard bag and body scan to switch from the arrivals terminal to the departure terminals, then a passport and interview screening to enter the specific gate terminal. Most people ahead of me were asked a couple of questions then allowed to pass. I was grilled about when I bought my ticket, how I paid, what proof I had that I paid and not someone else.

The whole thing, including their checking with Delta on the source of the ticket, took 10-15 minutes. Then I was wished a happy flight.

I guess I could file a complaint with some Soros-funded NGO and complain about the profiling. Of course, they’d ignore it, because it doesn’t fit the narrative.

Actually, I just thanked them for their service. After all, they were protecting ME.


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DINORightMarie | June 10, 2016 at 7:33 am

When I went to Mexico, I too was singled out. Not the people that looked like they were carrying tons of contraband – no, a married (traveling with husband), middle-aged, roundish white female of short stature with a smile on my face and a cheerful, chatty touristy attitude. Taken to a separate line; asked several questions (“do you have any nail files? nail clippers? any other sharp objects in here?”) ; all my carry-ons (not my husband’s, just mine) searched thoroughly, despite being x-rayed and willingly opening my bags; walked to the gate; shoes examined; hands swabbed; body-wanded; asked again (and again!) what my full name was, when was I born, how old I was, etc. etc. etc.

The only reasons I could come up with was:

1) It is random – and a foolish waste of time;
2) I’m on an Obama-admin.-generated watch list that is made up of Conservatives; 😉
3) Cheerful tourists are a red flag;
4) It is somewhat random – but my husband and I must appear TOO “average America” to be for real;
5) Dazed and confused, rushed and/or passive sheeple get a pass.

I have read that Israel has expert profilers in their airports – and I’m sure, without telling people, there are places their tactics are being adopted in Europe and elsewhere (like Amsterdam and Mexico).

I wish we had them here……..

Glad you are safe, Professor!! Hope your even went well, and that you have a restful summer after that whirlwind trip. And I’m thankful you were not hurt; praying for the victims of the terror event that almost no one here knows happened, it seems….. Praying for the peace of Jerusalem.

buckeyeminuteman | June 10, 2016 at 7:40 am

Beirut Marine barracks bomber, USS Cole bombers, 9/11 hijackers, shoe bomber, underwear bomber, London tube bombers, Madrid bus bombers, Charlie Hebdo shooters, Paris theater shooters, Amsterdam airport bombers…you obviously fit the profile of all of them. Pay no attention to the millions coming in the back door!

Darth Chocolate | June 10, 2016 at 8:04 am

Probably because you changed your ticket at the last minute.

Do you consider yourself to have situational awareness? That is, unlike 99.9% of the traveling public, if you passed by a suspicious character, would you take notice?

People who are reflexively noticing security and who are unknowns… they give Security People the willies.

    Gremlin1974 in reply to MrMichael. | June 10, 2016 at 6:34 pm

    Yea, I get eyeballed a lot as well, but usually a smile and a wave are enough to keep them from taking to close a look at me, but then again I only leave the lower 48 once or twice every few years.

Several years ago flying home from Tel Aviv my family and I counted over two dozen points of “interaction” through which we were being profiled.

Even before you get close to the airport, our car, in fact every car was stopped by armed guards and assessed.

You walked into the airport and somebody came up and “greeted” you. A few simple questions were asked. A post it sticker was placed on the back of our passports – different colors with i am sure different non verbal meanings.

Cameras too, all over the place. No doubt facial recognition software.

In any event, to date they are batting 1.000. Thank God.

Do I look dangerous? (Wait, don’t answer that.)

Well, with that old, misshapen ball cap and sunglasses, you kind of look like a skinny Michael Moore. Maybe they mistook you for him, and considering his views on Israel, they wanted to make him feel uncomfortable.


You bought your ticket/changed plans hastily.

We were profiled on the way TO Israel. Coming back is usually easy and the second trip is easy as well.

I am flying back from Zurich today. (WiFi on international flights, ain’t capitalism grand?)

I have flown through Zurich dozens of times in the last 3 years. Today, I was questioned extensively for 4-5minutes. Very smart questions (I won’t post them here, feels wrong to do so) but they were wide ranging on every range of topic – work, geography, activities.

The manner was casual but was fascinating the way he took answers to normal screening questions and asked questions back that would have caught me off guard (eg not seen angle coming and had a hard time masking anything other than my true reaction)

Guy was a pro. By the end of the interview I was smiling and a I complimented him on his thoroughness … Which I think caught him off guard as he smiled and said thank you. I am pretty sure his only genuine reaction during the interview.

I am a normal looking somewhat chubby business guy in a suit and a tie. Not as cool as Professor J at all in his shades.

I have never been profiled like that before. It was the 2nd time in Zurich airport it happened today. The first time was before security where I was singled out for the way I was moving (again no details provided) but I thought, wow, very sharp. However, they were more focused on passengers to a different destination (?) and cut the interview short.

I have never heard of people being profiled pre-security / pre-check-in before outside of Brussels or middle eastern countries / 3rd world hell holes.

For what it’s worth. Tensions seem high in Europe after Zaventum Brussels bombing. Which I was also in this week.

My colleagues there commented cryptically on my lack of enthusiasm on flying out of the airport: “trust us, it’s the only airport in Europe safe from a terminal bombing right now”. (You get screened and potentially profiled/searched before you get to the terminal) … Apparently the expectations are very high on terrorist action during EuroCup this month like Zaventum

My car was searched once when I was headed onto an Air Force base. I asked what they were looking for, and they mumbled something about stolen government property.

Right, I can see how people smuggling stolen government property onto the base would be a problem …

Everybody was very polite, and thoroughly useless.

An ex-Air Force type later told me that personnel the Air Force would much rather weren’t in the Air Force at all, but who weren’t so bad that they deserved dishonorable discharges, were put where they wouldn’t cause much trouble. If talented, they put them in the kitchen; if not talented, they made them guards. Sounds reasonable; being confined to that little house by the gate is about as far off-base as is feasible. (The person who told me this had been exiled to the kitchen.)

    buckeyeminuteman in reply to tom swift. | June 10, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    Any time an alarm goes off on base, all incoming and outgoing traffic is stopped and the gates are closed. It could be from a weapons vault alarm, a classified area breach, the BX or commissary had been robbed, etc. Nobody goes on or off until the problem is figured out. As for random vehicle searches coming on base, they’re looking for weapons, drugs, or people without business coming on. Since 9/11 the last place you’ll find unqualified people is at the gate.

    Gremlin1974 in reply to tom swift. | June 10, 2016 at 6:40 pm

    That ex-air force type, must have been very ‘ex’ because these days the SP’s at the security check points, yes even the ladies, are Attentive, observant, and deadly, they are not the screw up brigade.

David Breznick | June 10, 2016 at 10:41 am

That you don’t remember the Israeli airport security’s questions, is by design. The airport and passenger jets landing there have been well-protected by some of the world’s smartest people. You didn’t happen to feel a little pinprick somewhere, before you were questioned, did you? 34 gauge needles are practically imperceptible.

I was profiled at airports before 9/11 and more after. I won’t fly unless tossed tied up in the cargo hold.

I am just glad you are back safely, despite the security gauntlet you had to run.

I’m originally from the Dominican Republic and I used to live in the US territory of Puerto Rico, which is 90 east of my country of origin and as such is the entry point of much of my compatriots trying to enter illegally to the US. If you manage to land in Puerto Rico from there you can easily move to the mainland US.

So back in the mid 1990s I got a job that required me to travel to the mainland three or four times a year and I was profiled every time by immigration agents who were on the lookout for illegal Dominicans trying to make their way to the mainland. Remember that this was before the terrorists attack of 9/11 and there was no TSA or even the Department of Homeland Security.

What would happen is something similar to what professor Jacobson described here: some guy I was not even aware of would approach me or stop me for further questioning, asking me where I was going, where I was from and asking to see my green card (which by the way, I was supposed to carry with me all the time and present it upon request).

I wasn’t bothered by this, in fact I was kind of amused and curious as to why they would select me. It became kind of like a game for me trying to fool them, but I was never able to. I was honestly impressed with their skills at profiling.

I think that’s the way to go and not this idiotic system with endless lines in which we now pretend that an 80 years old grandma is a “potential threat” and needs to be pat down by the TSA perverts.

quiksilverz24 | June 10, 2016 at 11:03 am

First, I’m surprised that you only arrived at the airport an hour and fifty minutes before your flight. Everyone I work with tells me it’s a minimum of three hours before departure.

When I arrived in Israel, I walked out of the plane wearing shorts and a t-shirt, leg tattoos showing, baseball cap on backwards, and Beats headphones on my ears listening to blaring music. Yup, I got stopped. I had nothing to hide, so I wasn’t worried. Was there for a work trip to meet my colleagues and get a little training. Getting into Israel was much easier than getting out, though, which was a surprise.

The first thing I saw in the arrivals hall was a group of Muslims in the corner with their prayer mats out for evening prayers. Such an intolerant people, those Israeli’s… /s.

I heeded advice and arrived at the airport three hours early. However, when you are taking the late United flight out on a Thursday night, there aren’t that many people there. The best advice I can give to anyone is to get a security letter before arriving at the airport. I showed them mine, was asked a couple of questions, and was on my way. I’d be curious to know what number the Good Professor received on his yellow sticker. I, to much surprise, received a lowly 1. In other words, no body search, no need to empty my bags. Pulled out my laptop, walked through a metal detector, and was on my way to peruse the duty free and get a bite to eat before the 12 hour journey.

By the way, the watches in the large shop out in the middle. Way overpriced. Duty free does not translate into lower price.

My take is that Israel is just trying to improve relations with Obama. And Prof. J. looks exactly like the Obama Administration’s textbook definition of a terrorist. Writes and thinks like one too. If he’d been wearing an NRA sticker, they’d have probably gang-tackled him in the lobby.

    Old0311 in reply to Zumkopf. | June 10, 2016 at 8:25 pm

    Like driving into Canada with Texas license plates?

      The Friendly Grizzly in reply to Old0311. | June 12, 2016 at 6:56 pm

      Try Tennessee plates at the Windsor crossing. After about 45 minutes of hassles, and everything taken out of my car including the spare tire and contents of the glove compartment, I offered to simply drive back across the border and go home, and cancel my two weeks in Toronto.

      They took me up on the offer, and I did. I had less trouble going to places like Bahrain.

I am thinking it was the very early morning bored security guy who has a certain number of public contacts that he is supposed to make and he was a couple short.

Maybe it said somewhere that you’re an American Academic, and given what’s going on campuses ….. 🙂

Isn’t it Ramadan right now? I would expect the threat level – and the security in place – to rise accordingly.

Maybe a forex futures trader is on the run this week. There are other profiles besides terrorists of course, drug smugglers, fugitives, migrants, Glenn Greenwald’s boyfriends, you name it. Every tenth person is probably the character in a potential Hitchcock or Mamet thriller.

I don’t know, Porfessor, maybe they thought you were hiding shifty eyes? Glad you are safe!

Maybe he had just endured a messy divorce and was just out to annoy lawyers.

LukeHandCool | June 10, 2016 at 11:56 pm

You actually got through security looking like that?

Sunglasses at 3 a.m.?