Israeli Druze diplomat says racially profiled, humiliated at airport
An Israeli diplomat from the country's Druze minority has accused security agents at Tel Aviv airport of racially profiling and humiliating him and his family as they travelled on official business.
Israel's ambassador to Panama Reda Mansour, who hails 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 learned that we came from Isfiya, they asked to see our passports," Mansour wrote on Facebook after the incident.
Israeli Arabs and Druze often denounce 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, Mansour spoke of "humiliation" and concluded: "Go to hell... I feel like vomiting."
The veteran diplomat noted his village is 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 added.
Unlike other Arab citizens of Israel who may volunteer to serve, the Druze are subject to compulsory service in the military or police, alongside Jewish Israelis.
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, Netanyahu praised Israel's Druze community as "dear to our hearts".
Thousands from the country's 130,000-strong Druze community took to the streets last August to denounced a law declaring Israel the nation state of the Jewish people, arguing it renders them second-class citizens.
Netanyahu strongly backed the law.
As responses on social media poured in, many of them hostile to 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 in a statement.