Daily Israel Report

Supreme Court Against Profiling Arabs in Israeli Airports

Supreme Court issues order against tagging Arab citizens for security checks in Israeli airports. Security official: Do they know where we live?
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 3/8/2011, 3:29 AM / Last Update: 3/8/2011, 4:14 AM

Yoni Kempinski

Israel’s Supreme Court issued a court order on Monday asking airport authorities to explain within 45 days why they cannot inspect all airport passengers using equal, objective and uniform criteria and why Arab passengers are automatically tagged a security risk.

The order comes after a previous hearing last week, during which the judges harshly criticized the tagging of Arab citizens as a security risk.

During the hearing, Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch noted that it is impossible to label an entire population and that there is no doubt that humiliating Arab citizens during the security inspection is unacceptable.

Attorney Auni Bana, who represented the Association for Civil Rights in the discussion along with Attorney Dan Yakir, expressed his satisfaction at the court’s decision. “This is the essential issue at hand: Is it permissible for the state authorities to sweepingly declare minority groups who are citizens of Israel as a security risk in way which humiliates them and is discriminatory them.”

Bana added that “No one disagrees about the importance of security checks, but the sweeping way in which Arab citizens are questioned about their destination, about the people whom they plan to meet, the fact they are required to disclose personal information stored on their computers - all these create an intolerable situation in a democratic country and is a constant reminder to these citizens that the state itself does not see them as deserving of equal rights.”

Attorney Dan Yakir, legal adviser for the Association for Civil Rights, noted during the hearing that former Israeli Security Agency (Shin Bet) officials said that even after the Supreme Court forbade them to torture prisoners, the security situation was not negatively affected.

“Security authorities have many different measures they could use for security inspections. A democratic state cannot accept the humiliation and discrimination against twenty percent of its citizens.”

In response to the court order, an airport security official told Arutz Sheva’s Hebrew site on Monday: “it is unfortunate that the Supreme Court judges are sitting in their air conditioned rooms and do not understand the dangers posed just by debating the issue. The Twin Towers tragedy took place, the danger has not disappeared and peace has not come. The Supreme Court is endangering the security of Israeli citizens.”