My name is Rachel, and Israel thinks I’m a security threat

Rachel Marandett
Rachel Marandett
The line between policing and racial profiling called into question.

By Rachel Marandett | Mondoweiss  | Jul 25, 2019

I want to tell my story because if this is what the Israeli government is doing to a 21-year-old American Jew doing research, what do you think they are doing to someone whose skin isn’t as white as mine?

My name is Rachel. I am a Jew. I don’t practice, but my grandmothers are Jewish and I identify as a Jew, so that means I am a Jew.

My name is Rachel. I study Religious and Middle Eastern Studies. My research focuses on the Holocaust and the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. I have studied in Morocco and the Czech Republic. I know a little bit of Arabic and I hope I can learn more soon.

My name is Rachel. I support human rights. I work at a non-profit that strives to prevent genocide and crimes against humanity.

My name is Rachel and in the summer of 2019 I was interrogated for an hour and a half when trying to get on a flight from New Jersey to Tel Aviv. Over ten members of Israeli security working for the Israeli airline, El Al, took turns questioning me. My life, my friendships, my studies, and my family were picked apart. They mired on my Arab and Arab-American friends, the relationships I made in Morocco, and my research. I was partially strip searched and my entire body was poked and prodded with hands and scanners. Every single one of my belongings was confiscated and examined behind closed doors. I was yelled at by a large group of men to give them my computer password. They refused to explain why they needed it and I had classified work documents on my desktop. Scared and overwhelmed after 90 minutes of questioning, I decided not to comply. I was then off-boarded from the plane.

When I went back to the airport for a rebooking the next day, I was pulled from the security line within minutes. I was searched and questioned extensively again and had my luggage and passport labeled a level 6 out of 6 security threat for further examination and interrogation upon my arrival in Israel. Knowing that there was a good chance I could be turned around in Israel after enduring hours of questioning yet again, I decided not to try for a third time to get on a flight with an airline that had already made it clear they wanted nothing to do with me.

I don’t know why I was treated like this. When I asked, they kept saying “security.”

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