Israeli officials are investigating an angry complaint from the country’s ambassador to Panama about mistreatment allegedly meted out to him and his family at Ben Gurion airport because they are Druze.
The diplomat, Reda Mansour, said he was ordered to pull over at the entrance to the airport by security personnel when they learned he was from an Arab village in the north.
Mansour said that the guard who questioned them did so in a dictatorial manner, but let them proceed when his ambassadorial status was made known.
Mansour vented his resentment online, saying “Thirty years of humiliation and it’s still not over. You used to take us apart at the terminal, and now we’re suspects even at the entrance.”
Airport authorities rebuffed the complaint, insisting that security checks are carried out “regardless of religion, race or gender.”
“When you meet more than 25 million travelers each year, there will be some who will choose to be insulted by their meeting with the security guard who is only doing her job,” a statement read.
“We too have friends and family, like you do, buried in IDF cemeteries. I suggest the honorable ambassador tell his daughter next time that the security scan is doing everything possible to protect her and the country.”
Mansour had added that his daughter commented on the guard’s comportment: “It’s so irritating the way she spoke to you when you were smiling the whole time and answering her politely.”
The ministry said it was in contact with both the envoy and the Airports Authority, saying that security checks “must be done professionally and with mutual respect.”
President Reuven Rivlin also spoke with Mansour: “Without getting into details of the incident, which is being investigated, I emphasized that what matters is what he felt, and if he was hurt, we must give it our attention,” he tweeted.
“We must ensure that we are worthy of this [the Druze-Jewish relationship] at all times, and not merely in times of crisis and war.”
Shortly after Rivlin, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called the envoy to express “deep appreciation for the way he represents Israel in Panama,” the PMO said.
The Druze “are dear to our hearts and we will continue to work in every possible way to strengthen this covenant of brotherhood,” he added.