AT ISRAEL'S AIRPORTS AND BORDER CROSSINGS
Israel’s Arab citizens are often victims of racial profiling when they travel in and out of the country, particularly through Ben-Gurion International Airport. They are often late for, or miss their flights because airport security holds them for long, unnecessary, and humiliating security checks.
In 2004, CAF started negotiating with the Israeli Airport Authority (IAA) to improve the situation for Arab citizens at Israel’s airports and border crossings. In 2006, CAF established a joint team of IAA and Ben Gurion Airport officials, businessmen, academics, education specialists, tourism industry representatives, and public figures from Israel’s Arab communities.
The team focuses on airport security and education. They raise awareness among airport employees, and sensitize them to the experiences of Arab Israelis at Israel's airports. The team also works to change the airport’s unnecessary security practices, like labeling passengers’ travel documents with stickers that say ‘Jew’ and ‘Arab.’
In 2006, the IAA launched the Arabic version of its website, and translated important forms into Arabic. They hired more Arabic-speaking security personnel to help Arab passengers through security procedures and in the terminals. The IAA also established a 24-hour passenger service team to respond to passengers’ complaints and requests; the team communicates directly with border crossing authorities. Finally, Arab passengers were given the option of pre-flight security registration to avoid having to deal with extra security checks.
In 2006, the IAA also announced its plans to build a Muslim prayer space in Ben-Gurion International Airport. The mini-mosque can be found in Terminal 3 – it faces Mecca, and has a library of Qur’an books.
The joint CAF-IAA team also arranged for Arab communities to visit Ben-Gurion Airport to learn first-hand about airport security procedures and practices for all passengers. Lastly, the team developed materials to guide and inform Arab travel agents about airport security.
CAF's most significant achievement is the 80%-85% drop in complaints about the mistreatment of Arab citizens in Israel’s airports between 2006 and 2010.