The Israeli press describes it as, American VIP humiliated at airport:
Donna Shalala, who served as the US Secretary of Health and Human Services for eight years under Clinton and is currently the president of the University of Miami, was held for two-and-a-half hours at Ben Gurion Airport during which she underwent a humiliating security debriefing because of her Arab last name — all this despite the fact that her hosts notified the airport ahead of time that she is a VIP.
The fact that Shalala arrived in Israel as part of an official delegation of the heads of universities fighting against the academic boycott against the Jewish State also seemed not to help her.
Shalala, 69, was born in the US to Lebanese immigrant parents.
Steve Clemons has some thoughts about this at The Washington Note.
As he points out, what Shalala says she went through is what many panic-ridden conservatives in the US want to inflict on our travelers — ethnic and racial profiling.
I’m sure the Israeli officials knew who the Donna was after just a few minutes into the questioning, but in any event, they continued w/ the interrogation making the incident quite curious. It is bizarre that she won’t comment further on the matter according to various news reports because she would have had to have commented for this to become a story. What bothers me is imagining what “normal” people w/ unusual last names, not ex-U.S. cabinet officials go through to enter/exit Israel.
Just reading the washington note link saying that the Donna attributes her troubles in part to the fact that she didn’t have “handlers” makes one think of the airport in Kinshasa, Congo where it is necessary to pay someone to help you through the bribes and questionings just to leave the country – wow.