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What My Strip-Search Taught Me about Safety in Israel

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I will never forget the day I got strip-searched in Israel. It scared the bejeebers out of me, embarrassed me—and it gave me a new take on safety in Israel.

What My Strip-Search Taught Me about Safety in Israel

(Photo by Photodune)

I traveled with Dr. Reg Grant and Dave Carl to the Holy Land to video the “Experience the Land and the Book DVD.” The trip went without a hitch until we got to the airport to head home. Reg and Dave made it through security just fine—and they proceeded to our gate.

But for some reason, the security officials detained me. They pulled me aside into a back room and told me to take off my clothes.

The Naked Truth

Standing there in nothing but my Fruit of the Looms, I answered questions asked by a man with a severe look on his face. His assistant stood nearby, arms behind his back. Both of them stared a hole through my eyeballs.

“Where have you been in Israel?” he asked. I told them.

“Why did you bring this laptop with you?” I answered that I brought it to do work on the flight home.

“Did anyone else have this computer while you were here?” I told them no. Awkward silence.

Honestly, I can’t remember every question. But I’ll never forget the tone. It was not a time to make a joke. (And for me, those times are rare.) They were genuinely concerned about my laptop. Another official in the background took a wand and continued to wave it over my computer. Finally, I heard the verdict.

“We’re going to keep this laptop and ship it to you.”

Israel security

(Photo: Israel Security, by User: Mattes. Own work, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Ironic Purposes

In spite of my questions why, I never learned what possible threat they saw. But I did learn that I personally posed no problem (nor did my clothes). But something seemed wrong with my laptop—so they had to follow protocol and confiscate it. Following our 45-minute time of fellowship in the back room, I re-entered the terminal with my clothes on and my laptop shrink-wrapped for its transfer back to the states.

After they deemed me no threat, I received an official “escort” to my gate. The young man in uniform was as friendly as could be—almost in apology to the inconvenience and embarrassment I had endured.

“Tell me,” he asked with his thick Jewish accent, “what brings you to Israel?” His question was simply small talk.

“Honestly,” I answered, “I came to make a film to encourage tourists to come to Israel and see how wonderful it is.”

He paused—long pause. Finally, he spoke. “How ironic.”

Ben Gurion airport

(Photo: Ben Gurion airport. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Safety in Israel Gets an Ironic Twist

What initially seemed a huge inconvenience to me became instead an affirmation of how safe it is to travel to Israel. If Israel will take caution with someone as harmless as me, how much more will they weed out the true threats?

Suddenly, I felt very grateful.

Plus, since I could do no work on my 12-hour flight home, I watched about 5 movies instead.


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