Have you ever heard of Halifax, Nova Scotia? I only ask that because most of the people I know have never been there and many of them only know of it because of the little digital map that they show on airplanes so passengers can see where they are at that moment. The little airplane icon flies over Halifax on planes en route to Toronto and New York. And I am confident that until many of my friends here met me, they had never given that insignificant spot on the map a second thought.
The key word here is "insignificant."
Well, after I travelled back to Israel from Halifax, via New York, last week, I realized that regardless of how world travellers may perceive it, Halifax definitely sees itself as the front line of combating terror in the region.
Because I was flying directly to a US destination I had to go through US customs in Halifax. Remember ... Halifax: Fighting Terror on The Front Line.
I got in line to get my boarding pass and then entered the baggage xray line. They sent my two suitcases through the xray machine twice. When I asked if there was a problem they said "no". If that had been the end of it, I probably would have believed them. But it wasn't.
Next, I had my hands tested for explosives residue. Yes, some over zealous customs agent ran a little machine with a square of white cloth on the end over my hands. I asked her if it also detected pot or cocaine -- not that I was doing either but at least that seemed like something I might do, at least in comparison to bomb building or schlepping. I don't have shifty eyes and I surely wasn't behaving nervously, so I couldn't understand why I was checked.
Next, I was sent to the customs check line that ended with yes ..... the body scanner. I have been through many major world airports and not once -- not once -- have I been scanned. I like to think that that is because nothing about me says DANGER.
After what seemed like a half hour wait, it was my turn to be body scanned. Of course they offer you the choice of getting that scan the old fashioned way -- some stranger in rubber gloves runs his or her hands all over you in search of something dangerous -- and something that the previous three tests have demonstrated I have nothing to do with.
I opted for the bloody body scan. At that point, I would have happily undressed and just stood there naked if they would just let me go.
I passed the body scan -- big surprise (not).
So, you would think that that would be enough. Well, not in Halifax, the Front Line in the fight against terror. No siree.
Next, they went through all my hand luggage. Why? Because, according to them, I forgot to put a half used tube of face cream in a little plastic bag.
When I finally said to them: "You know, I live in Israel and I travel regularly. I have never been through anything remotely like this."
Here's what the nasty customs chick said to me: "My husband is from Israel and it is definitely a lot worse (getting checked) there."
So, I profiled her and decided that given her inherent worldliness she had never been outside of Nova Scotia. Then I asked her: "Oh, have you been to Israel?" I thought that was a fair question under the circumstances.
She -- oblivious to my set-up inquiry and coming sarcasm -- said: "No". And since I never like to miss an opportunity to hit one out of the park I responded: "Well then, I can see how you would know that." One point for me.
She tried for a come back but I cut her off and said, I just came through JFK and they didn't look twice at me. I also haven't been through anything like this in Heathrow. Why, pray tell, does Halifax have to check me like I was already guilty?
This is an excellent example of why I should never leave Israel.