I recently travelled to Israel, and while there I felt safer than I have felt in many foreign places and I will tell you why.
The entire time I was there, I noticed that Israeli people actually take safety and security very seriously, aside from their driving (which is terrible to an almost ridiculous degree btw) they pay attention to their surroundings and their situational awareness is really quite impressive. I actually felt better because of the fact that there are always well trained, ARMED soldiers nearby. that knowledge made me feel far safer than if there were not.
There are rules in Israel that people follow, again, given the jewish predisposition towards questioning everything and arguing about everything, I was pleasantly surprised to find that when it comes to safety and security, Israelis are almost Canadianlike in their respect for and their following of rules. (at least the ones about security, standing in line not so much).
Now you can chalk it up to whatever you like, you can say that its because of the constant threat of violence from their neighbours, or its because of the way they have been treated around the world for centuries, but the fact remains, the Israelis are good at security because they have had to be. As someone who worked in security, I saw checkpoints that were very professional, I saw static security positions with state of the art electronic surveilance that puts to shame most everything we use here in Canada other than high end military stuff. I saw intelligently placed chokepoints and well planned positions. They were never random.
I will talk about the Barrier for a bit, I pay attention, so what I noticed is that the wall is actually a fence for most of the barrier, and its only a wall in places where the Palestinians had a clear field of fire and tended to use it. in those places, there is now a concrete wall that prevent snipers from shooting civilians. I noticed that the fence was also just a fence, and not nearly as ominous as the slacktivists in Canada like to tell us, the checkpoints are a pain in the ass for most people, but they have also saved lives by preventing the easy access of murderers to the Israeli state.Also, I am a fair shot and with a scoped 7mm rifle I can regularly make shots of about 500-800 yards with little difficulty, I can probably make a shot of up to a thousand yards if I had the time and in ideal conditions. I don’t think that most north americans understand that in places the distance from a “ Palestinian” position to Israeli roadways or even apartments, is under 200 yards and that even an untrained person with a scope could make those shots regularly and if they had an automatic weapon, the spray and pray would probably be effective. the Israelis know this from the experience of having people shoot at them from those areas, hence many Israeli homes having steel shutters on the side facing the arabs.
That being said,no security is perfect, in fact the week that I went to Hevron, a bus filled with schoolgirls on their way to a Bat Mitzvah, was firebombed on the road, thank god it was an armoured bus and the girls were unharmed, also during my trip, Arab youth tried to throw rocks at some cars on a road I was travelling, luckily they had rather weak and girlish throwing arms and the rocks fell far short, but it was not for lack of trying on their part. Both of these things happened in an area where the security is up to the PA, so in other words, where security is non existent.
Finally, my experience at the airport, on my way in, I was asked many questions, “ where are you from?” “ why are you coming to Israel?” “ where are you staying?” I had my bags checked, and then I was subjected to yet another search. all of which was fast and professional if a bit uncomfortable for someone with a well defined personal space bubble. Honestly, the worst part of my experience coming in was waiting in line at the bank machine while a pair of exceptionally stupid people took 30 minutes to withdraw money. thankfully I was so excited to be in Israel that I almost didn’t notice.
My experience flying home was absolutely amazing, I had misread my flight home details and one of my best friends has emailed me asking for my estimated time of arrival, I logged in to find that in fact my flight was leaving at 1 from Ben Gurion, it was 11 in jerusalem. thankfully I was already packed and we got to the airport at about 12 noon. I was quickly searched, asked several questions about why I was in Israel, who I stayed with and what I did while I was there, I pulled out my copy of my stand with us Itinerary and the security Guard raised some eyebrows and said “ there is no way you did all this.” I laughed and said “2 weeks ago I would have agreed my friend.” just then my friend Sarah, showed up, she had found parking and wanted to make sure i managed to get on the Plane, they asked her some questions, she showed them her ID, and they hustled me into the line. they checked my stuff thoroughly with the Xray, and quizzed me about where I had been, one lady asked me about my blog so I gave her the web address. I was checked very thoroughly and helped to my departure gate. I saw a guy mouthing off to the security girl get pulled from the line, where he was asked to remove all of his belongings from his bag. lesson learned, do not be an asshat to people who can order you to be searched.
Now from my perspective, I appreciated the thoroughness and attention to detail at the airport in Israel, the legendary Israeli customer service (lol) was completely missing from the airport security people, they were brisk but efficient, and very polite. For me as someone who has travelled internationally on many occasions, the experience was very very good. I vastly prefer a little discomfort and some delay to being blown up and plummeting from the sky, I do not enjoy plummeting. I don't think that I am in the minority on that.
I always wonder at these people who complain about the security measures and so called abuses, because frankly, I saw no such things, the only time I saw anyone getting pulled out of line it was because they were acting up or like the “camera man” from venezuela with the ” Israehell” sticker on his camera just asking for someone to take them to task probably so they can tell everyone about the big meanie jews who searched them. I would like to see them wear a “screw Islam” sticker anywhere in the region and write about that. Growing up, I was taught that you do not poke a bear, I am not sure why so many people feel that its ok to do it.
Anyway, My right to safety and security and every Israeli or traveller to Israel’s ,rights to safety and security, absolutely trump someones right to comfort, whether they like that or not. Especially given the context and history of the area. There are those who would love to blow up a plane filled with jews and tourists, simply because they know it would cause a huge commotion in the international news. against such people we have only a few dedicated security professionals and the brilliant measures and protocols designed and implemented by these people.
I just wanted to say thank you to the people in Israel who worked hard to grant me that safety and security while I was travelling there and on my way home. My experience with Israeli airport security was excellent.