Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 6 April 2020

Israeli Druze diplomat suffered discrimination at Ben Gurion Airport

Israel's ambassador to Panama, Reda Mansour, was stopped and interrogated by security officers at the airport on Saturday

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday tweeted his "deep appreciation for the work of Ambassador Mansour who represents Israel in Panama". Ariel Schalit / Reuters
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday tweeted his "deep appreciation for the work of Ambassador Mansour who represents Israel in Panama". Ariel Schalit / Reuters

An Israeli diplomat from the country's Druze minority has accused security agents at Tel Aviv airport of discriminating against him and his family as they travelled on official business.

Israel's ambassador to Panama, Reda Mansour, from the mainly Druze town of Isfiya near Haifa, was flying to the Central American country on Saturday when he was stopped and interrogated by security officers at Ben Gurion Airport.

"When they learnt that we came from Isfiya, they asked to see our passports," Mr Mansour wrote on Facebook after the incident.

Israeli Arabs and Druze often talk of harsh treatment by the airport's security staff, but it is rare for a senior official to speak out on the subject.

After detailing the encounter, Mr Mansour spoke of humiliation and concluded: "Go to hell. I feel like vomiting."

The veteran diplomat said his village was home to a memorial for Druze soldiers killed fighting under the Israeli flag.

"I advise that you take your security guards and those in charge of their training to visit this cemetery and teach them about self-sacrifice and respect," he said.

Unlike Arab citizens of Israel who may volunteer to serve, the Druze are subject to compulsory service in the military or police, alongside Jewish Israelis.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday tweeted his "deep appreciation for the work of Ambassador Mansour, who represents Israel in Panama".

Without mentioning the incident, Mr Netanyahu praised Israel's Druze community as "dear to our hearts".

Thousands from the country's 130,000 Druze citizens took to the streets last August to denounced a law declaring Israel the nation state of the Jewish people, saying it made them second-class citizens.

Mr Netanyahu strongly backed the law.

As responses on social media poured in, many of them hostile to Mr Mansour, Israel's Airports Authority on Sunday said the security guard "did his job".

"Security checks at Ben Gurion Airport are carried out regardless of religion, race or gender," it said.

Updated: August 5, 2019 09:57 AM

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