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Sunday, March 21, 2010

El Al to stop flying to South Africa over racial profiling?

In what unfortunately appears to be his last blog post, South African blogger It's Almost Supernatural reported in January that El Al was threatening to end its Tel Aviv - Johannesburg route unless its security personnel were granted diplomatic passports. As I have mentioned many times, El Al runs its own security in every country in which it operates and its security personnel receive diplomatic passports. But in South Africa, the government is refusing to grant those passports because a whistle blowing employee complained that El Al security uses racial profiling.
South Africa has refused to reissue the diplomatic passports following a Carte Blanche story featuring a bellyaching former employee who accused El-Al security of racial profiling at OR Tambo international. Following the airing of the episode South Africa in November last year expelled an Israeli security officer.
Carte Blanche, I am told, is an investigative reporting television program.

Two months later, the South African Jewish Report says that the impasse continues (pdf link) (Hat Tip: Russel H).
Last Sunday, Carte Blanche, the TV investigative programme, flighted the story again. They rolled out the original former El Al employee, the whistle blower, Jonathan Garb who had maintained that the Israeli Secret Service was operating above the law in South
Africa (at the airport).

Garb now told Carte Blanche: “People have phoned my family and made threats to them
to sleep with one eye open at night.” On Facebook, Garb was accused of being “a
traitor” to the State of Israel and the Jewish religion. He denied this. The Facebook site was closed down at Garb’s request after many messages unfavourable to him, were posted. “I expected some sort of backlash from the Jewish community,” he admitted.

Carte Blanche commented that they simply wanted to know why a foreign intelligence
agency could operate “with impunity” on sovereign soil.
Well, it's more than just that. Carte Blanche has tried to tie El Al in Johannesburg to the al-Mabhouh affair, claiming that two of the assassins flew from Dubai to Johannesburg and immediately boarded a flight to Tel Aviv. The records of that flight have allegedly disappeared.

For South African Jewry, if El Al stops flying to Johannesburg, there are serious consequences. El Al is the only airline that flies non-stop between Tel Aviv and Johannesburg, which is about an eight hour flight. Any other means of travel requires connecting through Europe, which means a much longer flight. Additionally, El Al does not fly over countries that are hostile to Israel and Jews. Other airlines have no such concerns. In the event that a flight is forced to make an emergency landing, an Israeli might find it most uncomfortable to be in Tripoli (Libya) or Entebbe (Uganda) or Zimbabwe. Three years ago, an Israeli on a Turkish Airlines flight from Istanbul to Mumbai found himself in Tehran airport when his flight made an emergency landing. Fortunately, no one at the airport gave him a hard time. But there are no guarantees when something like that happens.


At 8:25 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

South African Jews and Israeli expatriates may have to do without El Al service. I don't expect the airline to compromise security so people can have a convenient flight home. And its not racial profiling - its security profiling and that's why no El Al passenger jet has been hijacked or bombed since 1968 although terrorists have tried to sever Israel's lifeline to the world on numerous occasions in the past and they won't give up in the future.


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