Ok, this post is not political at all and I really hope no one is going to chew me out for this. Politics aside, I quite like Israel. Tel Aviv is great because it’s modern and genuinely strikes me as a San Diego in the Middle East. The food, nightlife, and beaches are great. Jerusalem was very cool too, because of the historical aspect and sheer beauty.
I went to Isreal twice last year. Once for two weeks in October and once for two weeks in December. The first time I went, I was flying in from Brussels. I expected extra security going into Israel, but this whole experience was very new to me.
At the airport in Brussels, I was interviewed for 45 minutes, much longer than everyone else. Then I was escorted to a private bag search. They went through my handbag, backpack, and my luggage. They also checked my water bottle and scanned my phone. The only other people getting this weird treatment was a Russian couple. Great.
Then, when they decided I was “clean” they straight up escorted me to the plane and watched me get on. On the plane, the flight attendants checked up on me quite a bit.
I’ve always heard that some countries get really suspicious of you if you have a lot of stamps in your passport, so I think that’s why I drew some red flags. I got hella stamps in my passport.
The next time I went to Israel was right after Trump’s announcement that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel, which pissed off a lot of dangerous people. I had already booked my ticket and was looking forward to going so I said “fuck it” and packed my bags for Israel, three days after the announcement and amidst all the protests even in Cairo.
One of my good family friends (who I cannot go into detail about) called the airport ahead of time to let them know that I was coming. To be extra safe, I flew from Cairo to Amman, Jordan, and then to Tel Aviv. All was fine throughout my trip. In fact, I felt like the streets were much safer than the last time. The only issue I had was a minor student protest when I was in Jerusalem.
But when I was at the airport, leaving for Cairo, that’s when I had problems. My friend forgot to tell the airport in Tel Aviv that I was leaving and boy were they paranoid about me. As soon as I checked in, they pulled me aside and interviewed me for about twenty minutes. Then they walked me to security, where I spent an hour and a half. The line only took fifteen minutes though.
The other hour and fifteen minutes were spent waiting for them to triple search all my belongings, scan both my iPad and iPhone, and straight up interrogate me about why I am in Cairo. I was trying to be patient with them because I would prefer they be overly cautious than not but soon I was worried about missing my flight. They took this stick with a pad on it (which I assume was to detect drugs or explosives) and ran it over all my belongings, my hands, and my clothes.
Then they called me into a separate room. They put on gloves and ran their hands through my hair before making me shake it out myself. Then they had me pull off my pants, shoes, and shirt and shook through those as well. They also had me shake out my bra. They were very thorough. After they triple checked every single thing about me, they, once again, escorted me to the airplane and watched me get on. Again, the flight attendants paid special attention to me.
I arrived in Cairo a few hours later (once again flying through Jordan) and strangely, no one paid me any attention, at least no more than the usually treat a white girl. The airport staff just sat there smoking cigarettes and I could not get home to Zamalek quick enough.