June 23, 2016


The racial profiling Trump so admires doesn't even work in Israel (Akiva Eldar, June 23, 2016, Al Monitor)

"What are you getting so upset about?" one of the young men asked me. "This is nothing. You should come here in the midday hours and see the line straggling through here."

A guard who overheard the conversation shrugged and said, "What can we do?" with just a hint of apology. "Those are our instructions."

Yisrael Katz, the minister of transportation and intelligence, doesn't think there's any reason to apologize for Jews screening other human beings on grounds of their racial background. He is even proud of it. "The Shin Bet security agency acts according to assessments of certain communities," the minister told members of the foreign press in response to Trump's remarks. "Anyone who thinks that you can ignore the need to locate and prevent threats for the benefit of the entire population, including the Arab one, is simply wrong."

Does screening really serve the fight against terror, or do the humiliation and discrimination sow hatred and alienation that generate fury and violence? Can Israel, as Trump said, serve as a success story of the racial screening model, or is the conservative millionaire perhaps like a doctor who prescribes medication that worsens the condition of his patient?

One answer can be found in the report of the Or Commission that investigated the October 2000 clashes between Israeli security forces and Arab Israeli citizens, in which 13 demonstrators were killed by police fire. "Humiliation during a security check, which has nothing to do with real needs, as well as an offensive attitude in the contacts of Arab citizens with run-of-the-mill Israelis," warned the commission headed by former Supreme Court Justice Theodore Or, "risk residues of burning affront that will not be easily erased."

Another answer came from Bernard Harcourt, a law professor at the University of Chicago, in a 2006 paper on the issue of racial profiling. He wrote that he had not found any empirical proof that its usefulness outweighs its contribution to terror attacks.

David Harris, a University of Toledo law professor considered one of the world's leading authorities on racial screening, holds that the use of racial profiling cannot contribute to maintaining public order, reducing crime and drug dealing or preventing terror attacks. According to Harris, racial and ethnic affiliation are very weak indicators for predicting a person's behavior and threat level. Among other data, Harris cites statistics according to which the use of racial profiling in the war on drugs and crime in the United States, where the targets are mostly black and Hispanic citizens, did not contribute to a drop in drug offenses, but rather to the social alienation of members of these minority groups. According to Harris, the same is true of the profiling at airports, where the targets are Arabs and Muslims.

Posted by at June 23, 2016 7:28 PM