Perhaps Israelis Need Humiliation to Respect Others

Israel should view the harassment of Israeli Turkish Airlines passengers humbly as it serves as an embarrassing reflection on us.

The Israeli response that has followed the harassment of Israeli Turkish Airlines passengers who experienced detention and intrusive body searches upon their arrival at Istanbul airport on Monday, borders on hysteria and hypocrisy. The incident was blown out of all proportion and immediately became an additional and unnecessary chapter in the friction between Turkey and Israel.

There is no doubt about the fact that the conduct of Istanbul airport authorities was improper, and it is unforgivable - even if it was the result of retaliation for similar treatment Israeli authorities accorded Turkish air travelers. Nonetheless, Israeli citizens, and even more so the Israeli government and the Israel Airports Authority, should view it more humbly inasmuch as it serves as an embarrassing reflection on us.

The security check that Turkish citizens - and passengers from other countries with a Muslim majority - experience as they travel through Israel is stringent, overbearing and humiliating. Israeli citizens have gotten used to taking off for Turkey without the need for a visa, enjoying the hospitality of Turkish tourism services and vacationing in their multitudes in Turkish cities, villages and beach resorts without any restriction. Turks seeking to come to Israel for a visit, however, have had to go through a real ordeal, beginning at the Israeli consulate, where on occasion they get turned down without explanation, and later - assuming they get a visa - ending with an exhausting and humiliating airport security check.

The State of Israel has never apologized to these visitors and has never thought they deserved compensation for the lost time and the insult. Israel doesn't bother at all to explain its offensive security inspection procedures. To this day, it has not provided a proper response to the High Court of Justice, which demanded an explanation over the blatant discrimination experienced by Israeli Arabs before they board flights here.

In recent years, Israeli Arabs have complained about the treatment they receive, which has far exceeded the limits that can be explained by security needs. This includes intrusive body searches, unbearable delays and questioning on matters that have nothing to do with the flight. Most of the airport's passengers ignore the outrageous discrimination, or are not even aware of it. Perhaps now, having tasted the bitterness of this humiliation, they will no longer take it for granted.