An Israeli court has done what no American court has so far done, forbid an airline from forcing female passengers to switch seats in order to accommodate the misogyny of male passengers who think they’ll get the cooties if they sit next to a — gasp! — woman.
Israeli airline employees cannot ask women to change seats to spare a man from having to sit next to them, a Jerusalem court ruled on Wednesday, handing down a groundbreaking decision in a case brought by a woman in her 80s.
Strictly religious Jewish men who refuse to sit next to women, for fear of even inadvertent contact that could be considered immodest, are a growing phenomenon that has caused disruptions and flight delays around the world and prompted protests and social media campaigns. The pressure to switch seats can be particularly acute on El Al, Israel’s national airline. And the issue has become emblematic of a broader battle in Israel over religion and gender in public spaces.
The plaintiff in the lawsuit, Renee Rabinowitz, now 83, boarded El Al Flight 028, bound for Tel Aviv from Newark in December 2015. She had settled into her aisle seat in the business-class section when the passenger with the window seat showed up: an Orthodox man who complained about sitting next to a woman. A flight attendant asked her to change seats to accommodate him, and she gave in reluctantly…
In discussions outside the courtroom, the two sides in the case agreed on a judgment proposed by the judge, declaring that it is forbidden for a crew member to ask a passenger to change seats at the request of another passenger based on gender. El Al agreed to tell its cabin staff in writing about the prohibition within 45 days, and to provide training in how to deal with such situations within six months.
Good. This has happened many times at airports in New York, usually on flights bound for Israel. Flights have been delayed for hours as Orthodox Jewish men threw hissy fits and refused to sit next to women. They should have been given a very simple choice: Either sit in the seat that was assigned to you or get out and walk. And you have 3 minutes to make up your mind. And no, you are not getting a refund. We are not going to reorder the world so you can continue to inflect your sexist nonsense on others. Sit and seethe if you want to, I couldn’t care less. Or have fun swimming to Israel.