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Once In A Lifetime In Israel – The Journey Begins

By on Sep 15, 2011 | 5 comments

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The Once In A Lifetime 2.0 trip to Israel has began. Upon receiving invitation from the organizers of the trip, I started exploring Israel online – checking out videos on YouTube, reading articles on Wikipedia and the posts written by the bloggers who were on ‘Once In A Lifetime’ trip last year. I decided to come to the country with a blank mind. I did, because I am trying not to be a part of an agenda – as one of my readers from Israel pointed out in my introductory post.

Once In A Lifetime Israel 2.0

Visiting Israel? Be Ready For “The Security”!

The first impressions of the trip would be the most memorable – and I’d have written this part differently had I posted an update right after my arrival. It’s my 4th day here now and there’s certainly a change in my mindset.

I arrived in Mumbai at about 6:30 pm and I had to board the EL AL flight from the International airport at 11 pm. It was not less than a 50 meter line for the shuttle to the International airport that awaited me at Mumbai domestic airport. The EL AL officials came searching for their passengers and guided me (It helped! Thanks Guys!). After arriving at the International Airport I noticed something ‘weird’. Only the ELAL check-in counters had two rows of security personnel (all of t hem look like James Bond. Hah!). I had to wait in a short queue until one of the security guys asked me to be with him.

Then started the questioning & answering session. And by the ‘session’, I mean a 45-minute long grilling session! The security personnel (let’s call him James Bond) started questioning me. The questions ranged from “Why are you visiting Israel?” to “Who packed your bags?”, “Who was with you when you packed your bags?”, “Why did you visit Malaysia, UAE, Thailand?”, “Do you know anyone in Thailand”, “Why is your invitation letter not signed?”, “Did anyone give you the gifts” and so on. Every answer would reward me with two new questions and the whole process looked like never ending. None of my answered changed the expressions on his face and I thought it was just ‘too much’ when he asked me to open my email accounts and couple of important business related reports just the ensure I wasn’t lying. At one point, I even thought like saying to him, “Hey man! Look, it’s your people who’ve invited me to explore your country! It seems like you don’t want me to go to Israel. Okay, I’ll just go back home!”

James Bond thanked me for my cooperation just a moment before I thought it was ‘enough’. He let me in and I changed my mind. The rest of the process was smooth.

It’s “The Security”, Get It!

It made me wonder why the security guy wasn’t letting me in. I think after spending some time in Israel, I’ve understood some part of the problem. Trust me, you just cannot feel how it’s like to be here without actually being here. For the country that’s always in a state of war with the neighboring nations, security is ‘very very’ important. After meeting several Israeli people and listening to their part of the story – James Bond’s questioning me suddenly looked ‘natural’. He just couldn’t take a chance! It’s his job!

If you’re planning to travel to Israel (I recommend you should!), be ready for security. But don’t lose your patience. Answer all of their questions and you should be absolutely fine.

Arriving In Israel

The EL AL flight took me to the Ben Gurion airport in Tel-Aviv. I was welcomed by Keren & Omry. It was a great to meet Keren and Omry as they did lot of hard work in making sure that I arrive in Israel. Keren & Omry – You are AWESOME! I mean it! We waited for Chris (The Aussie Nomad, my fellow blogger from Australia) and we took a train to Haifa.

Omry & Keren -  Happy To Have Us In Israel

Omry & Keren - Happy To Have Us In Israel

The other bloggers had to arrive so Keren and Omry took us through the streets of Haifa and on the way, we could eye-popping-awesome photos of the Bahai Gardens. Check –

The Bahai Gardens In Haifa, Israel

The Bahai Gardens In Haifa, Israel : B-E-A-utiful!

The trip’s just began and I can’t wait to tell you how many exciting and amazing places we’ve visited so far. I’m going to upload more photos in my next blog post and it’s going to be about the amazing things we did on the first and second days. Do let me know what you think!

Signing off for the moment. Swimming in the Jordan river has tired me like anything! More about it, in coming posts!



5 Comments

  1. Adam

    September 15, 2011

    Post a Reply

    I flew from Mumbai to Tel Aviv as well (my second visit to Israel) and found the security questions invasive and offensive. I understand the security issues, but El Al’s reactions to any potential threat is quite extreme. To be quite frank, El Al is the worst airline I’ve ever flown with and definitely would not recommend them to anyone.

    • Katia

      September 21, 2011

      Post a Reply

      Dear Adam…

      I wish that we could turn back time and have the amazing El-Al security methods prevent the Nine Eleven catastrophe. Or even better, I wish there was no Al-Qaeda in the world,    I wish we would fly freely where ever, when ever with no need for security.
      But unless you lived in a cave for the past few decades, you know that there are many bad people that are trying to hurt as many innocent people as possible!

      I know that all those rational and smart people choosing El-Al every time they fly, feel that they are safe and protected for at least this period of time from those that come to harm them (despite the sometimes long, but necessary procedure)

      I hope for your next flight that the airline of your choosing was trained by El-Al on how to protect their customers, As many airlines in the world do!

      And if the questions bother you, please feel free never to choose El-Al!
      It is certainly your loss, maybe you should wish- that it won’t ever be the  
      loss of your life!

       

      • Adam

        September 21, 2011

        Post a Reply

        Thanks for your reply to my comment but I think it’s a bit extreme to think that El Al security could have prevented the 9-11 terrorist attacks. I feel safe in plenty of places without the need for invasive and extreme questioning.

      • Adam

        September 21, 2011

        Post a Reply

        Thanks for your reply to my comment but I think it’s a bit extreme to think that El Al security could have prevented the 9-11 terrorist attacks. I feel safe in plenty of places without the need for invasive and extreme questioning.

  2. Georgette Bensimon

    October 29, 2013

    Post a Reply

    I totally agree with Katia. I would rather be questionned by an El-Al security agent anytime and know that my flight is secure and safe. El-Al is the safest airline in the world. I have been questionned by veiled British woman security in London and I can assure you that their aim is not security but profiling. Yes american airlines have a few lessons to learn from Israel’s way to proceed. Would it have avoided a 9/11? I believe Israeli security would not have allowed the situation to degenerate to the point it did. They would have interfered before or make them explode in the air making much less casualities.

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