Haredim Disrupt El Al Flight Over Women, Airline Does Nothing To Stop Them
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
It was, passengers said, an “11-hour-nightmare” – a nightmare caused by misbehaving haredim and the refusal of Israel’s national airline El Al to properly deal with it.
At 5:00 am Wednesday morning, only hours before the Rosh Hashana holiday began, an El Al flight from New York's JFK landed at Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv after an unnecessary delay reportedly caused by dozens of haredi passengers who, despite having assigned seats, refused to sit next to women.
Instead of taking their seats in New York, dozens of haredim refused. They stood in the plane’s aisles and demanded that El Al move the secular passengers out of their assigned seats and break up husbands and wives and traveling companions in order to accommodate their strict understanding of already strict haredi modesty rules.
"People stood in the aisles and refused to go forward. Although everyone had tickets with seat numbers that they purchased in advance, they asked us to trade seats with them, and even offered to pay money, since they cannot sit next to a woman. It was obvious that the plane won't take off as long as they keep standing in the aisles. This is completely inconsiderate of the non-haredi travelers. I don't know many airlines that would allow their passengers to act like that,” one of the secular passengers, Amit Ben-Natan, told Ynet.
El Al’s cabin attendants reportedly told the secular passengers that they did not have to agree to move.
But the pilot announced on the PA system that the plane would not take off until everyone was safely seated.
The haredim refused to sit down and the flight did not take off.
"Why should I agree to switch places?" Galit, another secular passenger, said, upset hat haredim had asked her to move away from her husband so a haredi male to could take her seat.
Galit said she refused to move and the haredi man gave in – temporarily.
"I ended up sitting next to a haredi man who jumped out of his seat the moment we had finished taking off and proceeded to stand in the aisle,” Galit told Ynet.
He was joined by other haredim who clogged the aisles, standing and praying and making the flight a nightmare.
”I went to the bathroom and it was a mission impossible, the noise was endless," Galit said.
El Al has had problems like this with haredim before, but as it has done previously, it took no action against the haredim who disrupted the flight.
Critics note that large numbers of haredim fly into and out of Israel to visit relatives or for pilgrimages to and from graves of famous rabbis, and El Al – Israel’s national airline, after all – repeatedly turns a blind eye to their repeated misbehavior in order to keep the business of haredim who are not only misogynist, but are also overwhelmingly anti-Zionist.
As it has done before, El Al promised to look into the incident.
"El Al does everything it can to give its passengers the best possible service year-round. These days bring with them a peak in air traffic to Israel, and our crews on the ground and in the air are doing the best they can to address the needs and requests of all our travelers while trying not to fall behind schedule. The company will examine the complaints and if some passengers are found to have acted out of line the company will examine its future steps,” the airline said in statement.
Israel’s Egged bus public bus company repeatedly turned a blind eye to similar haredi behavior on public buses – even after Israel’s High Court of Justice ruled that any forced or coerced public gender segregation is illegal.
Even though the court has strongly ruled on this issue, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s previous government did little to nothing to enforce that ruling, and while enforcement has been somewhat better during this most recent government, that has not been because of steps Netanayahu and his Likud Party have taken.
Rather, it is the power of Netanyahu’s non-Likud coalition partners and the absence of haredim from the governing coalition that has made enforcement of the High Court’s ruling somewhat better.