The United States Department of Transportation has launched an investigation against El Al following a complaint of illegal discrimination against a Palestinian-American” passenger, Israeli media reported Wednesday. The complaint was filed by Noor Wazwaz, a producer for NPR’s Morning Edition, who tweeted on July 18: “I was denied boarding on El Al because they claimed that I was a ‘security risk.’ Here is a glimpse of what it’s like to travel to Israel as a Palestinian, even if you’re an American.”
Before we continue, you should know that this was not Noor Wazwaz’s first visit to Israel. In 2017 she reported on her experiences in the Jewish State, naturally from a very biased point of view. When we read about her “ordeal,” we must keep in mind that Israeli security had been alerted about her, and the Israeli government was not too happy to receive yet another kick in the guts from this reporter. Here’s a short segment from Wazwaz’s appearance at the Jerusalem Fund & Palestine Center, on August 3, 2017”
Now, back to some of Wazwaz’s tweets from July 18, 2023:
“It all started when I went to go drop off my bags at the counter at EWR (Newark Liberty International Airport). Before the counter, I stopped at the Israeli security post. I was questioned about where I was traveling, why, etc. Pretty standard stuff. Then the ‘person in charge’ told me that I wasn’t allowed to take any luggage with me on the plane, not even my backpack.
“My ticket allows for a carry on and a personal item. I wasn’t allowed to take my laptop, portable charger, any charging wire or electronics. I straight up asked, ‘Why? Is it bc Im Palestinian? (sic)’ Without hesitation he said, ‘Yes, and you’re going to places like Ramallah.’
“After complying with his unreasonable demands, I checked in my carry on and backpack. I put my laptop and electronics in my check-in. A yellow tag was put on my bags and passport. I was told that I would have to go through extra security screening when I got to the gate.
“Meanwhile, all these other people were sitting at the gate with their bags + laptops. I got pulled to the side by the same man + he had news to share: Apparently when they looked into my laptop, there was an ‘alert’ which according to him means ‘it contains explosives.’
“No, I wasn’t arrested for allegedly carrying a laptop that contained explosive devices. Instead, what they said was that they’d have to ship the laptop home or someone would have to come pick it up. He kept insisting that these weren’t his rules. It was the ‘Israeli government.’”
“They put me on a United flight. I checked in my bag. I got to keep my carry on, my backpack, my laptop + chargers. I went thru TSA again. I went thru Israel’s additional screening. And took a seat at the gate.
“I thought I could finally just sit in peace. But I was wrong. As I’m waiting at the gate, they announced my name. And I was told ‘Israel is requesting additional screening.’”
“So, I did another extensive screening. Another pat down. Head to toe. Swabbed all my belongings. Socks and shoes. Of course, everything was clear. But wait … I was told I had to go thru Israel’s security AGAIN!
“At this point, I’ve gone through a total of FIVE security screenings in the span of 7 hours. The Israeli security swabbed all my bags and belongings.”
There’s much more, which you can start following with the tweet below. El Al may or may not end up being punished by the DOT, but perhaps Noor Wazwaz will take a long and much-deserved break before she shows up for another round against Israel.
I was denied boarding on @EL_AL_ISRAEL because they claimed that I was a “security risk.” Here is a glimpse of what it’s like to travel to Israel as a Palestinian, even if you’re an American. It all started when I went to go drop off my bags at the counter at EWR. pic.twitter.com/1W9X9fm3pX
— Noor | نور (@nfwazwaz) July 18, 2023
But before you go, consider this response, from businessman Avi Kaner:
“El Al has the most intense security of any airline, for good reason. Everyone else including Jews are asked the same questions at security. If the swabs did show explosive residue they have a responsibility to the other passengers. I do hope you enjoy your stay in Israel and have a better experience next time.”