Mofaz: Airport security checks no longer discriminatory
Transportation minister announces end to different color stickers being used during airport security check to identify Arab, Jewish citizens traveling abroad. But security personnel say that no real change has been made as new identical white stickers bear different numbers to signify what belongs to whom
Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz announced Tuesday that Jewish and Arab citizens traveling abroad will receive the same color stickers for their luggage during security checks at the airport.
Prior to the decision, security personnel at Ben Gurion Airport used different color stickers for each population sector, each color indicating a different security level. From now on, all citizens traveling abroad will receive a white sticker, indicating that they have already gone through the security check.
According to Transportation Ministry spokesman Avner Ovadia, the use of different color stickers left non-Jewish passengers feeling humiliated and discriminated against. The decision to use a single color for all citizens was made in an effort to bridge the gap between different sectors in Israel.
Ovadia emphasized that the quality of the security checks would not change, and that airport authorities had other ways of maintaining the necessary level of security.
Indeed, Ynet spoke to airport security personnel about the changes and learned that now instead of the colored stickers, luggage will be differentiated according to numbers displayed on the identical white stickers.
The old system had the luggage of Israeli Jews marked with a pink sticker, luggage belonging to Arab families or Israeli Arabs was marked with a white sticker for tighter screening and luggage belonging to Arabs traveling alone was marked with a yellow sticker for an even stricter security process.
Now everyone will have a white sticker - but Israeli Jews will receive a sticker labeled 1, Arab families and Israeli Arabs will receive a sticker labeled 2 and Arabs traveling alone a sticker labeled 5.
An airport screener said that the change was made for the benefit of the Arab public. "But it's stupid; anyone who understands the process can see the different numbers for Jews and Arabs."
Ben Gurion security director, Shmuel Zachai, said in response: "All the stickers in the airport at white and meant to improve the sense of equality. Ever since we implemented the change we've barely received any discrimination complaints." Zachai refused to comment on the numerical system.
Tibi: Policy is 'Israbluff'
Arab MK's were outraged at the news that the system has not truly changed.
MK Taleb el-Sana (United Arab List – Ta'al) said the policy was illegal and said he would take the matter up with the attorney general. "Using numbers is like a yellow star in the Holocaust. It is a mark of Cain for Israel. The security concerns cannot be used to render this racism kosher," said el-Sana.
MK Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List – Ta'al) called the policy an "Israbluff."
"We don't need to change the color of the stickers or the numbers on them, but rather the operating disk in the heads of the Shin Bet chiefs who treat Arab citizens as a threat. There are two options here: either Mofaz knew it was only a cosmetic change and he presented it as a real change, or he himself was
misled – both cases are severe," said Tibi.
MK Dov Khenin (Hadash) also slammed the decision: "Tagging suitcases based on national identity is not the solution to security problems but rather the source of a tangible human and civil rights problem."