British man complains about treatment at Israeli airport after visiting Arab partner
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British man complains about treatment at Israeli airport after visiting Arab partner

Greg Baird said he was subjected to around three and a half hours of questioning about his partner, and his previous employment with Emirates, the UAE national airline

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

An El Al Israel Airlines logo is seen on an electronic board at a check-in counter at Ben Gurion International airport near Tel Aviv August 22, 2011.
An El Al Israel Airlines logo is seen on an electronic board at a check-in counter at Ben Gurion International airport near Tel Aviv August 22, 2011.

A British man has complained bitterly about his treatment by Israeli airport officials as he was on his way back to the UK last week after visiting his partner, an Arab Israeli man.

According to a report in Haaretz, the man, Greg Baird, said he was subjected to around three and a half hours of close questioning, primarily about his partner, and his previous employment with Emirates, the UAE national airline.

Baird — who has not worked for the airline for many years, and is now a travel consultant —said that despite his requests for water and a bathroom break, neither was granted. Although he was eventually permitted to board his flight, his electronic items — except for his phone, over which he argued fiercely — were confiscated and only returned to him after three days.

He and his partner have been in a relationship for two years but previously have only met outside both Britain and Israel because of pandemic restrictions. This was Baird’s first visit to Israel — and, he has vowed, his last, complaining about repeated questioning by a number of different officials, having his case unpacked, and being forced to pull down his trousers.

In response, the Israel Airports Authority said that security inspections at the airport were mainly performed through the use of technology and are done without regard to sex or gender. “When a warning is received, it is checked out. We regret the time that the inspection took and the feelings that the passenger had,” the IAA told Haaretz.

Baird’s unidentified partner, an Arab Israeli who lives in a small Jewish community in the north of Israel, was very unhappy about his treatment. He said he had tried to show Baird “the best of Israel” only for the airport incident to spoil that.

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