How the Israeli airline does security

The Israeli airline El Al, though an obvious target, has never had a terrorist bring one of their planes down. What is their secret? Not heavy-handed intrusive searches. Not ethnic profiling. Not at all what you might expect. According to this interview on CNN, it’s much simpler than that:

Isaac Yeffet, the former head of security for El Al and now an aviation security consultant in New York, said El Al has prevented terrorism in the air by making sure every passenger is interviewed by a well-trained agent before check-in.

“Stop relying only on technology,” Yeffet told CNN. “Technology can help the qualified, well-trained human being but cannot replace him.”

Read the rest of the interview. Mr. Yeffet tells how they train their security people, how they have to have specific qualifications and expertise, and how just by talking to each passenger they are able to spot those who might be problems. This is in contrast to our American insistence on finding a technological fix for everything.

HT: Webmonk

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    when I went to Israel over spring break my senior year of college. I was sporting a glorious red bead long enough for the girls on the trip to braid. Getting off the plane with my sunglasses, and a Viking liner hat, but walking with a military gate picked up in basic, I was immediately pulled aside for an interview, this happened two more times before I even made it to customs! I have had respect for their agents ever since. Though we did not fly Al El. You quickly learn that the Israeli’s know what they are doing.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    when I went to Israel over spring break my senior year of college. I was sporting a glorious red bead long enough for the girls on the trip to braid. Getting off the plane with my sunglasses, and a Viking liner hat, but walking with a military gate picked up in basic, I was immediately pulled aside for an interview, this happened two more times before I even made it to customs! I have had respect for their agents ever since. Though we did not fly Al El. You quickly learn that the Israeli’s know what they are doing.

  • WebMonk

    I work with military and ex-military people and it is pretty easy to spot those who were military, even for me, untrained. Even for people who were last in the military 20 years ago and have no continuing interest.

  • WebMonk

    I work with military and ex-military people and it is pretty easy to spot those who were military, even for me, untrained. Even for people who were last in the military 20 years ago and have no continuing interest.

  • Rob Cartusciello

    I flew El Al to Israel on a Pilgrimage in 1991. The interviews bordered on the obnoxious, and included the questions: “How did you hear about Israel?” (Answer: Church and the news) and “Have you ever heard these questions before?” (Answer: Yes, I was an intern at the U.S. State Department). I had the feeling that Christians (or at least non-Jews) were given greater scrutiny.

    I also had someone ask for my travel documents and passport and leave with them during a transfer in London. For at least fifteen minutes I was without documentation in a foreign country.

    Considering the fact that it was less than six months after the Gulf War, I was concerned about security and didn’t mind the scrutiny. It was, however, invasive.

  • Rob Cartusciello

    I flew El Al to Israel on a Pilgrimage in 1991. The interviews bordered on the obnoxious, and included the questions: “How did you hear about Israel?” (Answer: Church and the news) and “Have you ever heard these questions before?” (Answer: Yes, I was an intern at the U.S. State Department). I had the feeling that Christians (or at least non-Jews) were given greater scrutiny.

    I also had someone ask for my travel documents and passport and leave with them during a transfer in London. For at least fifteen minutes I was without documentation in a foreign country.

    Considering the fact that it was less than six months after the Gulf War, I was concerned about security and didn’t mind the scrutiny. It was, however, invasive.

  • MikeD

    I say privatize security and the varying levels of “invasiveness” will then be the choice of the consumer, not coercive. I’m not sure a TSA employee asking me what my opinions on the after-life are is any better than a butt-naked body scan. Furthermore, when the touted security of the airline fails, they are civilly responsible as opposed to our current government version that shakes everybody down and still takes no responsibility when things go bad.

  • MikeD

    I say privatize security and the varying levels of “invasiveness” will then be the choice of the consumer, not coercive. I’m not sure a TSA employee asking me what my opinions on the after-life are is any better than a butt-naked body scan. Furthermore, when the touted security of the airline fails, they are civilly responsible as opposed to our current government version that shakes everybody down and still takes no responsibility when things go bad.

  • Kirk

    Profiling doesn’t work? These Isreali’s sound like a bunch of PC pinkos, to me!

  • Kirk

    Profiling doesn’t work? These Isreali’s sound like a bunch of PC pinkos, to me!

  • WebMonk

    LOL @ Kirk! Right on!

    How dare they reject profiling! It is the one and only method guaranteed to catch all terrorists – we need to just strip search all the 18-45 age range males of “Palestinian” look, and we’ll catch all the terrorists!

    Those Israelis are just caving in to the PC standards of today, rejecting racial profiling, and are opening up their flying population to horrible risks!

    I can’t even begin to count the many thousands of poor Israelis who have died because of all the terrorist attacks that have taken over Al El planes! All just because they have caved to the PC crowd and refuse to do racial profiling. Like you said – a bunch of PC pinkos!!!!

    Kirk, I’m holding you responsible for the weird looks I got from my massive snort when I read that. “PC pinkos” ROTFLOL!

  • WebMonk

    LOL @ Kirk! Right on!

    How dare they reject profiling! It is the one and only method guaranteed to catch all terrorists – we need to just strip search all the 18-45 age range males of “Palestinian” look, and we’ll catch all the terrorists!

    Those Israelis are just caving in to the PC standards of today, rejecting racial profiling, and are opening up their flying population to horrible risks!

    I can’t even begin to count the many thousands of poor Israelis who have died because of all the terrorist attacks that have taken over Al El planes! All just because they have caved to the PC crowd and refuse to do racial profiling. Like you said – a bunch of PC pinkos!!!!

    Kirk, I’m holding you responsible for the weird looks I got from my massive snort when I read that. “PC pinkos” ROTFLOL!

  • Peter Leavitt

    Israel has, also, recently launched a BIOMETRIC AIRLINE SECURITY SYSTEM that will streamline and make their already excellent process better.

    We could follow Israel with smart, more effective, and efficient security were it not for the ACLU and other privacy fanatics who don’t get it that we are in a serious global war with the Islamic jihadists.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Israel has, also, recently launched a BIOMETRIC AIRLINE SECURITY SYSTEM that will streamline and make their already excellent process better.

    We could follow Israel with smart, more effective, and efficient security were it not for the ACLU and other privacy fanatics who don’t get it that we are in a serious global war with the Islamic jihadists.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Sorry, the above link is Here.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Sorry, the above link is Here.

  • http://blog.AggressionManagement.com John Byrnes

    We don’t need to profile!

    We don’t need to profile. At the Center for Aggression Management, we use easily-applied, measurable and culturally-neutral body language and behavior exhibited by people who intend to perpetrate a terrorist act. This unique methodology utilizes proven research from the fields of psychology, medicine and law enforcement which, when joined together, identify clear, easily-used physiologically-based characteristics of individuals who are about to engage in terrorist activities in time to prevent their Moment of Commitment.

    Since the foiled terrorist attack by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian national on Northwest Flight 253 to Detroit, the President has repeatedly stated that there has been a systemic failure as he reiterates his commitment to fill this gap in our security. This incident, like the Fort Hood shooting, exemplifies why our government must apply every valid preventative approach to identify a potential terrorist.

    The myriad methods to identify a terrorist, whether “no-fly list,” “explosive and weapons detection,” mental illness based approaches, “profiling” or “deception detection” – all continue to fail us. Furthermore, the development of deception detection training at Boston Logan Airport demonstrated that the Israeli methods of interrogation will not work in the United States.

    All media outlets are discussing the need for profiling of Muslim Arabs, but profiling does not work for the following three reasons:

    1. In practice, ethnic profiling tells us that within a certain group of people there is a higher probability for a terrorist; it does not tell us who the next terrorist is!

    2. Ethnic profiling is contrary to the value our society places on diversity and freedom from discrimination based on racial, ethnic, religious, age and/or gender based criteria. If we use profiling it will diminish our position among the majority of affected citizens who support us as a beacon of freedom and liberty.

    3. By narrowing our field of vision, profiling can lead to the consequence of letting terrorists go undetected, because the terrorist may not be part of any known “profile worthy” group – e.g., the Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh

    Our unique methodology for screening passengers can easily discern (independently of race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, age, and gender) the defining characteristics of human beings who are about to engage in terrorist acts.

    The question is when will our government use true “hostile intent” through the “continuum of aggressive behavior” to identify potential terrorists? Only when observers focus specifically on “aggressive behavior” do the objective and culturally neutral signs of “aggression” clearly stand out, providing the opportunity to prevent these violent encounters. This method will not only make all citizens safer, but will also pass the inevitable test of legal defensibility given probable action by the ACLU.

    As our Government analyzes what went wrong regarding Abdulmatallab’s entrance into the United States, you can be assured that Al Qaeda is also analyzing how their plans went wrong. Who do you think will figure it out first . . . ?

    Visit our blog at http://blog.AggressionManagement.com where we discuss the shooting at Fort Hood and the attempted terrorist act on Flight 253.

  • http://blog.AggressionManagement.com John Byrnes

    We don’t need to profile!

    We don’t need to profile. At the Center for Aggression Management, we use easily-applied, measurable and culturally-neutral body language and behavior exhibited by people who intend to perpetrate a terrorist act. This unique methodology utilizes proven research from the fields of psychology, medicine and law enforcement which, when joined together, identify clear, easily-used physiologically-based characteristics of individuals who are about to engage in terrorist activities in time to prevent their Moment of Commitment.

    Since the foiled terrorist attack by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian national on Northwest Flight 253 to Detroit, the President has repeatedly stated that there has been a systemic failure as he reiterates his commitment to fill this gap in our security. This incident, like the Fort Hood shooting, exemplifies why our government must apply every valid preventative approach to identify a potential terrorist.

    The myriad methods to identify a terrorist, whether “no-fly list,” “explosive and weapons detection,” mental illness based approaches, “profiling” or “deception detection” – all continue to fail us. Furthermore, the development of deception detection training at Boston Logan Airport demonstrated that the Israeli methods of interrogation will not work in the United States.

    All media outlets are discussing the need for profiling of Muslim Arabs, but profiling does not work for the following three reasons:

    1. In practice, ethnic profiling tells us that within a certain group of people there is a higher probability for a terrorist; it does not tell us who the next terrorist is!

    2. Ethnic profiling is contrary to the value our society places on diversity and freedom from discrimination based on racial, ethnic, religious, age and/or gender based criteria. If we use profiling it will diminish our position among the majority of affected citizens who support us as a beacon of freedom and liberty.

    3. By narrowing our field of vision, profiling can lead to the consequence of letting terrorists go undetected, because the terrorist may not be part of any known “profile worthy” group – e.g., the Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh

    Our unique methodology for screening passengers can easily discern (independently of race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, age, and gender) the defining characteristics of human beings who are about to engage in terrorist acts.

    The question is when will our government use true “hostile intent” through the “continuum of aggressive behavior” to identify potential terrorists? Only when observers focus specifically on “aggressive behavior” do the objective and culturally neutral signs of “aggression” clearly stand out, providing the opportunity to prevent these violent encounters. This method will not only make all citizens safer, but will also pass the inevitable test of legal defensibility given probable action by the ACLU.

    As our Government analyzes what went wrong regarding Abdulmatallab’s entrance into the United States, you can be assured that Al Qaeda is also analyzing how their plans went wrong. Who do you think will figure it out first . . . ?

    Visit our blog at http://blog.AggressionManagement.com where we discuss the shooting at Fort Hood and the attempted terrorist act on Flight 253.

  • Susan

    And to think when I suggested on another related thread that screening passengers the Israeli way didn’t sound like a bad idea I got hammered! :)

  • Susan

    And to think when I suggested on another related thread that screening passengers the Israeli way didn’t sound like a bad idea I got hammered! :)

  • WebMonk

    No you got “hammered” because you equated the “Israeli way” with racial profiling.

    Let me see, I think your exact quote was:

    No way does national security depend on strip-searching grannies or three yr olds in pigtails. It depends upon facing the reality of what more Middle Eastern and African men are likely to be up to than any other ethnic group, and screening them accordingly.

    Hmmmm, should we go with your idea of racial profiling or should we go with the Israeli system?

  • WebMonk

    No you got “hammered” because you equated the “Israeli way” with racial profiling.

    Let me see, I think your exact quote was:

    No way does national security depend on strip-searching grannies or three yr olds in pigtails. It depends upon facing the reality of what more Middle Eastern and African men are likely to be up to than any other ethnic group, and screening them accordingly.

    Hmmmm, should we go with your idea of racial profiling or should we go with the Israeli system?

  • http://www.geneveith.com geneveith

    Interesting, John @ #9. This, as I understand it, is what Israel does. It is NOT, as WebMonk emphasizes, profiling! Rather, it looks at individual (not group) behavior and identifies suspicious-acting individuals.

  • http://www.geneveith.com geneveith

    Interesting, John @ #9. This, as I understand it, is what Israel does. It is NOT, as WebMonk emphasizes, profiling! Rather, it looks at individual (not group) behavior and identifies suspicious-acting individuals.

  • WebMonk

    John at #9 is a spam comment.

    Someone from that site has been spamming that comment to scores of various blogs and news sites.

    It’s a “business” selling an online course and a book to receive a”unique and proprietary” certificate to be a “Certified Aggression Control Manager”.

    Sorry, I should have mentioned it earlier. I’ve run across that exact comment on several other sites.

  • WebMonk

    John at #9 is a spam comment.

    Someone from that site has been spamming that comment to scores of various blogs and news sites.

    It’s a “business” selling an online course and a book to receive a”unique and proprietary” certificate to be a “Certified Aggression Control Manager”.

    Sorry, I should have mentioned it earlier. I’ve run across that exact comment on several other sites.


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