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June 27, 2016 / 21 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘El Al’

Analysis: Trump Giving Israel a Bad Name with ‘Profiling’ Comment

Monday, June 20th, 2016

“I think profiling is something that we’re going to have to start thinking about as a country,” GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump told CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday, using Israel as an example for a place where this method is flourishing and yielding results. “You look at Israel and you look at others, and they do it and they do it successfully. And you know, I hate the concept of profiling, but we have to start using common sense,” he said.

Sadly, as Israel is being drawn with increasing frequency into the US presidential elections, with the Democrats using the Israeli-Arab conflict as a battle field between the Sanders and Clinton proxies, bits of prejudice and misinformation about the life and politics of the Jewish State are coming to the fore and, more often than not, spreading more ignorance than knowledge about it.

Donald Trump’s cartoon depiction of Israel’s security forces’ strategies is a case in point. A few years ago, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio was elected on a promise to do away with police racial profiling, because it perpetuated decades of abuse when African-Americans and Latinos would be routinely stopped and frisked by police. But predictive profiling, which takes into account multiple elements in an individual’s manner and appearance, is a crucial component of law enforcement work, and it’s much more complex than just skin color and religion.

Not according to the BBC, which informed its listeners on Sunday: “Profiling uses ethnicity, race and religion to determine whether a person has or is likely to commit crimes.”

And, sadly, this is probably what Trump meant when he shared with Face the Nation what he had taken from Israel’s security strategies. In a sense, Trump’s and the BBC’s notions of profiling come down to the store detective who spots a black person coming in and sticks to them expecting that they are more likely than others to shoplift.

If Israel’s security forces had used this yardstick in their approach to predictive profiling it would have choked not just its international airports, but traffic on the streets in many cities, too. If all you need to be in order to trigger security response is dark-skinned or Muslim, three-quarters of Israelis would spend their days and nights in police stations.

Chris Weller, who last year reported in Business Insider about his experience as a foreign, non-Jewish traveler at Ben Gurion airport, noted that “no flight leaving Ben Gurion has ever been hijacked, and the airline servicing Israel, El Al, hasn’t seen an attack in more than 30 years.” And yet, dozens of El Al and other flights leave Ben Gurion every day, and passenger traffic is brisk and efficient.

Israel employs, on the streets of its cities as well as in its airports, an intelligence driven system that relies on good communication, alert operatives, and multi-layered screening. Daniel Wagner, co-author of the book “Global Risk Agility and Decision Making,” cites Raphael Ron, a former director of security at Ben Gurion for 5 years, who said the passenger-oriented security system there is focused on the “human factor,” and is “based on the assumption that terrorist attacks are carried out by people who can be found and have been stopped through the use of this simple but effective security methodology.”

Unlike all US airports, departing passengers in Ben Gurion are not asked to take off their shoes during physical screening processes. Instead, passengers are interviewed by trained agents before they get to the check-in counter. So that the area in front of the check-in is not conceded to potential terrorists, as was the case recently in the Brussels airport attack. The interviews last one or two minutes for the most part, so that the line of passengers is moving quickly, and when the agents (they work in pairs) do suspect someone, based on factors such as vocabulary, general behavior, dress, age, race, religion and destination—they may be detained and questioned for as long as it takes.

But the scrutiny at Ben Gurion begins well ahead of the passenger’s arrival at the terminal itself. Every vehicle first passes through a security checkpoint where armed agents examine it, have a brief exchange with the driver, and assess their risk level. Meanwhile, the vehicle is gauged by a weight sensor, and an undercarriage scan. Then, outside and inside the terminal building agents are always mingling with the crowd pouring in, aided by hidden surveillance cameras that are monitored around the clock. Suspicious people would be challenged without waiting for them to reach a counter or a metal detector. An agent would approach them and strike a conversation to assess their mental state and risk level.

All of that well coordinated system relies on a broader intelligence infrastructure that uses informants, social network scrutiny and surveillance — traditional police methods which Israel’s security forces have been using and improving over the past decade and a half both in green line Israel and in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

Chris Weller offered an excellent example for the way Israel combines computer technology with the human factor, to create a smooth, reliable, fast and effective communication system regarding predictive profiling. “I learned that before any passenger ever gives up his luggage to the fine folks at Ben Gurion International, an employee places a neon yellow sticker on the back of your passport. On it is a 10-digit number. The first number, ranging from one to six, indicates your perceived threat level to whomever else you’re passed along. I got a five.”

And so, with a simple bar-coded sticker, the first agent who meets the passenger communicates his impressions to the next agent down the line without having to exchange one word or even a gesture. Leftwing writer Lia Tarachansky complained a few years ago about the same system:

“So I enter the line … My Israeli-Palestinian roommate tells me he’ll wait while I answer the security lady’s questions. She sees I speak Hebrew, she asks if I packed my own bags and she gives me a ‘1’ as expected. I’m white and I’m an Israeli, therefore I’m probably a Zionist. High from excitement and privilege I ask if my friend can come with me to the check-in. She says of course and asks for his ID. Her face changes.

“Where it says the Jewish birth date the line in his ID is blank. i.e. not Jewish. i.e. Palestinian.

– you know this man?

– yes

– how?

– he’s my roommate

– where?

– Jaffa

– wait here.

“She looks at his last name. It’s Christian, i.e. Arab. She disappears with our passports. The roommate looks at me and we both know what’s going to happen. When she comes back her smile is gone. She tears the ‘1’ off my bags and angrily puts on a ‘3’ as though to say ‘you didn’t tell me you have an Arab friend!’ Her face says ‘don’t you see you’re [expletive] it all up for us?!’”

Tarachansky described in her vivid style just how unhappy she was with the Israeli security system, but the fact is that even in her anti-Israeli narrative one can see that no one was hurt in the encounter she described, no one was manhandled, no one even missed their flight. But the system quickly spotted and responded to the potential threat, and the response was to replace a passport sticker. This hostile depiction of the Israeli method is, in fact, a song of praise to a rational, sophisticated and effective security system.

One wonders whether Donald Trump, or the media, understand the full depth of this system when he describes Israel’s success in police work and security as “profiling.”

JNi.Media

On This Day in 1991, IDF Makes a Miracle With ‘Operation Solomon’

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

On this day in 1991, Israeli Defense Forces accomplished a miracle and broke a world record for number of passengers transported in a plane, launching a covert mission to airlift thousands of people, thousands of miles away to bring them home to Israel.

It seemed impossible at the time, but Operation Solomon rescued 14,500 Ethiopian Jews on May 24 and May 25 and transported them 2,500 miles to a new life in Israel.

To date, the unprecedented airlift remains the largest aerial expedition in the history of the State of Israel and the largest transport of passengers in a single plane in the world.

In 1990, the Israeli government and the IDF became aware that the incumbent government of Ethiopia’s Mengistu Haile Mariam was coming closer to collapse or a coup. World Jewish organizations joined Israel in its concern for the Beta Israel, Ethiopian Jews whose mass emigration had to that point been impossible.

The Ethiopian government finally allowed all the Jews to leave the country at once in great part due to a letter from U.S. President George H.W. Bush. Up to that point, Mengistu was only willing to discuss their emigration in exchange for weapons.

U.S. Senator Rudy Boschwitz was sent as a special emissary by Pres. Bush to meet with the Ethiopian government to aid Israel in arranging the airlift. Assistant Secy of State for African Affairs Hank Cohen was also involved as he was an international mediator in Ethiopia’s civil war.

The operation itself was not publicized by media, thanks to a gag order under military censorship. The aircraft were all stripped of their seats in order to maximize their space.

Upon arrival 140 frail passengers received medical care while still on the tarmac; five pregnant women gave birth on the plane – they and their newborns were rushed to the hospital as soon as they arrived in Israel.

In 36 hours, 35 Israeli aircraft flew non-stop flights to transport 14,325 Ethiopian Jews to Israel. Among the aircraft were Israeli Air Force C-130s and El Al Boeing 7474s.

Hana Levi Julian

El Al Plane Diverts to Athens After Fumes Reported in Galley

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

An El Al passenger plane en route to Tel Aviv from Madrid, Spain diverted from its scheduled route shortly after takeoff Wednesday afternoon.

El Al LY-396 was traveling with 94 people on board when it diverted to Athens after the crew reported fumes originating from a galley.

The Boeing 737-900 aircraft landed safely on the runway at Athens International Airport about 18 minutes later, according to a report on The Aviation Herald website.

The aircraft remained on the ground for about three hours, then continued the journey. It was estimated to reach Tel Aviv with a delay of about four hours.

Hana Levi Julian

El Al Accident in Amsterdam Due to Fog, Tow Truck Driver

Saturday, February 20th, 2016

El Al Plane Breaks Wing at Foggy Amsterdam Airport

An El Al flight from Amsterdam to Tel Aviv on Friday was unexpectedly canceled when the Boeing 737 hit a fence as it was being towed to a runway at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport.

None of the 150 passengers and crew were physically hurt in the accident, but the plane’s wing was broken in the accident, which officials said was due to poor visibility from heavy fog.

Schipol Airport is one of the largest airports in Europe.

The driver of the towing vehicle was a local airport employee, and was not related to El Al.

El Al officials said all passengers were sent to local hotels and were to be boarded on a flight late Saturday night so as to accommodate the numerous Sabbath-observant travelers.

Hana Levi Julian

El Al Delays Flight to Rule Out Terror at Amsterdam Airport

Thursday, November 26th, 2015

An El Al flight departing Amsterdam en route to Tel Aviv did not leave as scheduled Thursday morning when officials suddenly spotted a suspicious vehicle on the tarmac.

The vehicle, with Belgian license plates, was seen in the area of the runway for take-off.

Several other flights that were scheduled for departure at the same time were also delayed as well, as Dutch officials scoured the airport.

Special ops police hunted through the area with ground forces and from the skies in a helicopter for at least an hour before calling off the search.

The airport was declared safe and all operations were returned to normal.

Hana Levi Julian

El Al Airline Makes Emergency Landing in Montana

Monday, November 16th, 2015

An El Al flight en route to Los Angeles from Tel Aviv made an emergency landing in Montana on Sunday when a warning light was seen in the cockpit.

Israel’s national carrier landed safely before 6 am at the airport in Billings with some 280 passengers and crew aboard the Boeing 777.

The aircraft hit turbulence shortly after the cockpit crew reported seeing the warning light, according to passengers who were quoted by the Associated Press.

The light indicated a fire in one engine; however, Montana’s local newspaper The Billings Gazette reported there was no visible fire when the plane landed.

A flight attendant announced to passengers the pilots had seen the warning light and the plane would land in Billings.

Hana Levi Julian

US Airways (Now American) to Stop Flights to Israel

Friday, August 21st, 2015

The world’s largest airline carrier will no longer fly to Israel.

American Airlines Inc. announced on Thursday, Aug. 20, that it will end its flights between the U.S. and Israel.

The reason for the cancellation was “strictly financial,” American spokesman Casey Norton told Bloomberg News.

American Airlines inherited the route between Philadelphia and Tel Aviv when it merged with US Airways in December 2013.

US Airways inaugurated the daily service to Israel in 2009. The American Airlines spokesperson said the airline lost $20 million on the route last year, and that it has never been profitable.

The trip of 5,740 miles was the longest of American’s flights. The route was serviced by a US Airways Airbus A330 aircraft, with seating for 252 passengers.

Service from Philadelphia to Tel Aviv is slated to end on Jan. 4. The last return flight to Philadelphia is scheduled for the next day.

But Philadelphia-area Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-PA-02) released a statement following the cancellation announcement of American Airlines.

Fattah said: “I am strongly opposed to the decision announced today by American Airlines to cancel this flight route. It is a critically important route, both for the constituents in my district who travel between Philadelphia and Tel Aviv, and also for the growing business relationship between our city and Israel. The effects of this decision will not only hurt tourism between our two countries, it will have a negative impact on our economies. The ease and accessibility offered by this flight had significant long-term potential to stimulate growth and communication.”

The Congressman said he hopes to work with American Airlines to see if there might be alternative solutions to canceling the route.

“I hope to work with American Airlines to see if there is an alternative solution to cancelling the route and will seek a meeting with the appropriate officials in the coming weeks to discuss options to keep this flight operating.”

United Airlines and El Al still fly from the U.S. to Israel.

This article was updated to reflect the fact that American Airlines merged with, rather than acquired, US Airways.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/us-airways-now-american-to-stop-flights-to-israel/2015/08/21/

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