The Israel Airports Authority (IAA) has refused to to display adverts informing female airline passengers they are not obliged to change seats at the request of ultra-Orthodox Jewish men who do not want to sit next to them.
According to this report, the Israeli Religious Action Centre (IRAC) had hoped to run a billboard campaign at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv during the Jewish holiday Passover. The IRAC also created a video, a still from which is shown above.
IRAC wanted to display adverts that read:
Ladies, please take your seat … and keep it!
The adverts reminded cabin crews that “requiring a passenger to switch seats because of their gender is illegal” and advised passengers that:
A flight attendant may not force you to switch seats to avoid mixed seating.
The campaign follows a court ruling last year in favour of Renee Rabinowitz, above, an 82-year-old Holocaust survivor who was asked by El Al cabin crew to move after a strictly Orthodox Jewish male passenger refused to be seated next to her on one of the company’s flights.
Some ultra-Orthodox, or Haredi, Jewish men say their religion’s modesty laws forbid them from sitting beside any woman who is not their wife.
Rabinowitz complied with the request but later successfully launched legal action against the airline with the support of the IRAC, which campaigns against gender discrimination and segregation.
A judge ruled last June that:
Under absolutely no circumstances can a crew member ask a passenger to move from their designated seat because the adjacent passenger doesn’t want to sit next to them due to their gender.
The judge ordered El Al, which is Israel’s flag carrier, to clarify its policies, train staff, and pay Rabinowitz compensation.
However, IRAC said it believed female passengers were still being discriminated against since the ruling.
It said it had reached an agreement with the Israel Airports Authority (IAA) on the price of running the billboard adverts during the busy travel season of Passover, which ends on Saturday.
IRAC director Noa Sattath said:
But suddenly, they notify us that they’re not approving it.
The IAA said it would not run:
Any advertising that is political or divisive.
Said spokesman Ofer Leffler:
For the same reason, we would reject billboards by the Islamic Movement and Yad l’Achim.
He was ferring to a Haredi anti-assimilation group.
It makes much more sense to do this in Israel, which is where the main problem is.