Israel’s ambassador to Panama has said he was felt “humiliated” and “treated like a suspect” at Ben-Gurion Airport because he is from the Druze minority, after racial profiling caused guards to stop him.
Ambassador Reda Mansour said the airport could “go to hell” in a Facebook post after his experience, which prompted a flurry of apologetic phone-calls, including from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Security guards, who defended their actions, pulled Mansour over to a checkpoint after he said he and his family came from the Druze-majority village of Isfiya on Mount Carmel in northern Israel.
Mansour has fought in the IDF and held senior positions at Israel’s foreign ministry, where Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz apologised profusely, saying: “I will act to make sure cases like this will not happen again.”
An Israel Airport Authority (IAA) spokesperson said Mansour had “chosen to be offended,” adding that security checks were performed “regardless of race, religion, and sex”.
Pre-empting the guards’ innocence, they added: “Even before an inquiry had been launched and only from reading the Facebook post, [I can say] there is nothing wrong with the security guard’s conduct.”
A group of former ministry officials were left livid by the incident and wrote an open letter in support of Mansour.
“We were appalled by the treatment you, your daughter and the rest of your family received during the security inspection at Ben Gurion Airport,” they said, adding that the IAA statement was “condescending”.
Almost every Druze Israeli man fights for the IDF and Mansour said there was a major military cemetery in his hometown, suggesting the IAA may want to send their guards on training there.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin also apologised to Mansour, saying there was an investigation underway, adding: “The alliance between us and the Druze is an alliance built in life, not just in death.”
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