An Israeli intelligence official defended the nation’s effective use of racial profiling as a means to single out terrorists from among a larger population.
Israel’s use of profiling became the focus of international media attention when U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump said it was time for the US to consider racial profiling as a means to combat terrorism – and cited Israel as an example of success.
“Other countries do it; you look at Israel and you look at others and they do it and they do it successfully,” Trump said. “You know, I hate the concept of profiling. But we have to start using common sense.”
Israeli Transportation and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz explained Israel’s methods.
“Ultimately these (security) apparatuses … must build a profile of characteristics as to where the danger comes from and locate it,” he said in a briefing to foreign journalists arranged by the Israel Project advocacy group. “It is not the whole population, but sometimes when there is a specific form of terrorism, you can seek out Islamic terrorism only among Muslims.”
Arabs comprise a fifth of Israel’s population. Non-Jews, especially Israeli Arabs and Palestinians, have long complained of being singled out for scrutiny and searches at security checkpoints throughout Israel and at the airport.
In an interview one week after the massacre by a Muslim at an Orlando nightclub, Trump said it was “common sense” over “political correctness” to consider profiling. Trump has previously called for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States, a suspension of immigration from countries with “a proven history of terrorism.”
Profiling has kept Israel safe. Untold terror attacks have been thwarted around the country and not one successful attack has been carried out on Israeli air traffic since the 1972 Lod Airport massacre in which 26 people were killed.
In fact, aviation security consultant Philip Baum said that airports would benefit from taking some methods from Israel’s playbook.
“’We need to realize that security is about so much more than just the checkpoint, than just confiscating items because they are on a list. We need to focus much more on the intent,” he told the UK Daily Mail.
Baum referred to El Al, Israel’s national airline, which trains its workers in psychological observation techniques, has them monitor passengers’ behavior and question them about their trip.
Potential terrorists would feel uncomfortable with an unpredictable pattern of questioning and character analysis, Baum contended, adding that typical security checks have become too predictable.
“For me profiling is not about racial profiling, and should not be seen as politically incorrect,” he said.
Dai Whittingham, chief executive of the UK Flight Safety Council, agreed that profiling is actually advantageous to airport security.
“Profiling of passengers is an important part of the security process as it helps to identify those whose behavior could be indicating ill intent,” he told MailOnline Travel. “It is not fool proof, but it does work.”