Several European rabbis are up in arms over the prospect of full body scanners being used on passengers at airports. The rabbis, from Milan, London, Paris and Antwerp, have issued a press release in which they suggest a solution that would satisfy the sensitivities of Orthodox Jews while meeting the need for increased security in airline travel.
“We would recommend that men are scanned by men, and women by women, like body frisks,” they wrote.
One of the European rabbis agreed to weigh in on the halachic aspects of using the scanner.
“I do not intend to give a halachic opinion and I do not know what actually is shown on the screen, but if it shows the female body then it could be against the laws of modesty,” said Rabbi Ya’akov Schmahl, a member of Antwerp’s rabbinical court.
The rabbi explained that according to Jewish law it is permitted for a male doctor to treat female patients even if he touches them and sees parts of their body that are normally covered because presumably a doctor is focused on his work and is not inclined to prurience.
“But if women are not happy – and there are religious women who prefer not to go to male doctors – they should be allowed to be monitored by women. And men might also might not want to show themselves before women.”
I don’t know about the rest of you, and I don’t know what these scanners show, but I’m not real comfortable with the idea either. If I meet up with one (which is possible because they’re using them in London and I tend to fly through there a lot when I go to Boston), I’m going to ask for a manual search instead.
UPDATE 5:35 PM
Reader Danny F sent me images taken from the full body scanner in the Salt Lake City, Utah airport. This is exactly what the technician sees. Note that the faces are blurred.
Hmmm. I doubt this would qualify for Rule 5.