06 September 2011

On the Turkish security screening beef

The latest flare-up in the quickly deteriorating Israeli-Turkish relationships is no more than a petty squabble that shouldn't distract in any way from the real issues. To start with, I would offer a CNN article that tries (and largely succeeds) to present a balanced picture of events: in Istanbul's Ataturk airport vs Israeli Ben-Gurion airport.

I said "largely succeeds" because the article is so well balanced that it doesn't tell the whole truth about the security checks that many foreign passengers go through on arrival to and, especially, on departure from Ben-Gurion airport. I am not knocking our security lads and gals, but let's face the truth: the one time humiliating experience of Israeli passengers in Istanbul pales compared to what some people (deserving or not) experience in the able hands of our security. It pains me to resort to quoting Haaretz, but it can't be avoided:

The issue of security checks at Ben-Gurion has turned into a regular source of tension which causes embarrassing diplomatic incidents every several weeks.

Foreign citizens routinely complain regarding their examinations, and some, who are official guests of the Foreign Ministry or other government offices also say they are humiliated often. Most of the incidents take place upon departure from Israel as opposed to landing.
And this is the whole unadulterated truth, ladies and gentlemen. So, instead of complaining about the indignity of going through Istanbul security, do your best to avoid flying to (or through) Ataturk airport and get used to the thought that Turkey is lost as a tourist destination and the source of cheap flights for years to come.

As for Caroline Glick, most vocally complaining (and I am using understatement here to the best of my abilities) about the Istanbul nightmares in her piece Our World: Ankara’s chosen scapegoat, I really had me that ROFLMAO experience while reading this:
The victimized Israelis said the Turkish airport authorities wouldn’t even answer their questions. Any time we asked them a question, the tourists said, the Turks ignored us. It was as if they weren’t even there. And that’s the thing of it. The Turks didn’t harass the Israeli tourists in order to send a message to Israel. They have nothing more to say to us. We are non-entities to them. We’re only good for attacking.
Now, now, relax, Caroline. We are not all that powerless and, let's face it, blameless. We have a trick or two under our sleeves and, where our latex gloves are concerned, we can even teach the Turkish security folks a thing or two...

And if it's the lack of Turkish clerks' response that irks you most: try to involve a TSA employee in a lively discussion next time you are in US. See where it takes you...


Noga said...

<span>More than two years ago my brother was dispatched by his company to  Istanbul. THe immigration officer who stamped his passport offered him a friendly advice: Don't let anybody know you are from Israel. My brother was supposed to meet a Thai representative. The Thai guy told him he was given a similar advice: don't go out at night because the Turks don't really like Asian looking  people. So the both of them stayed cooped up at the hotel for the two days meetings that took place, except for one outing to a restaurant to and from which they took a cab.   
My father grew up in Turkey and most of his close family is still there. In the past he used to visit his brother often enough and I remember him telling us how his brother warned him to NOT speak "Jewish" (Ladino) when out in the street.  
I'm willing to bet that the next step will be a threat to Turkish Jews. Remember this?  
<span>"ANKARA, Turkey -- Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday threatened that some 100,000 illegal immigrants from Armenia might be extradited from his country. "There are around 170,000 Armenians living in our country. Of them, 70,000 are Turkish citizens and the rest are illegal immigrants who have been on Turkish territory for over 10 years. If the situation continues to develop like this, we will have to review our attitude towards them," Erdogan said in an interview with the Turkish service of BBC. The statement came after a US committee and Sweden recently approved resolutions to brand the 1915 killing of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide."</span>  
I wouldn't play down this incident at all, snoopy. It is a harbinger of worse things to come. Erdogan is competing with Ahmadinejad for mastery over the Arab Street; there is no speculating to which lows this megalomaniac stoop to show Arabs that anything Ahmad can do or say,  he can do him one better.

peterthehungarian said...

No doubt our security people are not the greatest souls and their bosses are not the greatest intellects on the planet, (gross understatement)but have you ever heard of hijackers speaking Yiddish? 

SnoopyTheGoon said...

The reason I play this down, Noga, is that, as I have mentioned, worse things are to come and harrassment in the airport is nothing in comparison. Besides, as you can see, we do it all the way all the time.

Erdogan is a mad dog, as his name somewhat suggest, a charismatic bully and he is acting according to a long range plan, everything that is happening is not accidental. Well, aside of the airport incident that was called by the deputy mayor of Istanbul, as it was reported today on the radio.

As for being a tourist in Istanbul - I spent there three days about two years ago, told everyone who asked that I am from Israel and didn't encounter any attitude from the locals. Today it could be a bit different, but not by much as far as I hear. Of course, anectodal evidence is not much, but for what it is...

SnoopyTheGoon said...

No, but someone has lifted my sandwich once. I am not sure he spole Yiddish, though...