The High Court on Wednesday discussed a petition by rights groups demanding that the government ease security restrictions for Israeli Arabs at Ben Gurion Airport. The groups said that the search procedure for Arabs was onerous and unfair, and that there was no reason for an extended security check on Israeli citizens.
The petition was first filed in 2007, when the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) filed the petition to eliminate the special security classification that most Israeli Arabs belong to. The security classification requires an extensive security check of the persons and luggage of Israeli Arabs, because they are considered security risks.
According to ACRI, the criteria for Israeli Arabs are unfair and discriminatory, and if such criteria are necessary, they should be applied to all travelers. The Court has already considered the petition and order the State to show cause why the criteria were necessary, but as the case makes its way through the Court, ACRI said, Israeli Arabs were facing daily discrimination in the security checks.
The State, ACRI said, “admits that its security concerns are based on the ethnic profiling of those subject to the criteria,” and is clearly racist, making it illegal. Previous promises by the State to ease the restrictions and “ensure that those undergoing the checks do not feel discriminated against” have not led anywhere, so the entire system should be junked, as the State clearly does not have the intention or ability to implement its promises, ACRI said.
An ACRI official said that the group was open to ideas about how to ensure proper security, based on fair and equal principles that apply to all.
“The essential question here is how a State that claims to be representative of all its citizens can employ such a discriminatory security procedure for a specific ethnic group.” Even in the case of new, “painless” security apparatus, the official said, the fact that Arabs were subjected to them while other Israelis were not was a question the Court had to decide was discriminatory.