One of the worst things about living in Jerusalem is having to fly in and out of Israel's Ben Gurion Airport. Using Israel's international airport is, more often than not, a nightmare.
And, earlier this week, I went through one of the worst Israeli security checks in years.
Israel has serious security concerns, and the airport itself was the target of a high profile attack 35 years ago when the Japanese Red Army militant group killed 24 people.
These days, Israel's airport security screening system can leave you with the impression that it is either inept or deliberately set up to harass travelers.
Just this week, Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi's plane was delayed as he left Israel because he was carrying gifts he received while visiting a Palestinian refugee camp.
While Israeli security won't admit it, it is a widely accepted secret that Palestinians and Arabs get the worst of it. Arab travelers are routinely subjected to intense, hours long questioning that can include strip searches.
Earlier this year, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert apologized to Rania Joubran, a young Arab-Israeli diplomat-in-training who said she was humiliated and treated as if she was the enemy when she left and returned to Israel for a holiday.
Such stories don't end with Arabs, though. Aid workers who work with Palestinians, travelers who visit the West Bank, human rights workers and many others routinely get pulled aside for intense questioning.
One taxi driver who regularly takes me to the airport has urged me several times to shave off my goatee to make things easier.
One airport security screener admitted to me recently that journalists are also subjected to extra questioning merely because we are journalists working in the region. Often, journalists are asked why we have gone to neighboring Jordan or Egypt. We are asked if we know Palestinians. We are asked for their names. We are asked to open our computers and show screeners stories we have written.
The process can drag on, and having to brace for such interrogations every time you fly makes leaving an unnecessary ordeal.
The Israeli press office tried to make things easier for a while by issuing letters for journalists to take to the airport to speed up the process. Sometimes it helped. Sometimes not.
Recently, the press office said it would be enough for us to show our government-issued press cards.
This week, though, having the press card didn't help.
The airport screeners didn't care that I had the press card or that I had an Israeli work visa in my passport.
Instead, they took me aside for extra screening, pulled most of the clothes out of my bag to seach for explosive residue and brought me into a side room to be searched. They spent nearly half an hour examining a Krups espresso maker I was bringing with me and then had one of the young security guards escort me through passport control.
Israel's argument is that it has to be vigilant about security. But the airport screening process leaves much to be desired.
After decades of dealing with terrorism, you would think Israel would have developed a sophisticated way to deal with threats. At the very least, you would think that Israel would have a database that would allow them to clear the way for its own diplomats, like Rania Joubran, Arab-Israeli citizens who regularly use the airport, aid workers who pose no threat, and journalists.
In the case of reporters, we are vetted by the Israeli government when we get our work visa and when we get our press card. If we were a security threat, it's unlikely Israel would give us either the visa or a press card.
The fact that they can't, or won't, make things easier makes many question whether the screening is done merely to harass travelers or, even worse, as a tool to gain intelligence.
After so many trips through Ben Gurion, though, it is difficult to believe that the only reason for their procedures is security.