By refusing to sit next to women or engage in any way with female flight attendants, four devout Jewish men succeeded in delaying an El Al flight from New York to Israel this week for well over an hour.
According to this report, one of the men was was “particularly devout and ascetic”. He got on the plane with his eyes closed, led by a friend who held his hand, and kept them shut for the duration of the flight in an apparent effort to avoid looking at any woman on board.
Khen Rotem, inset above, a musician who witnessed the disruptive behaviour of the infantile idiots, said in a Friday Facebook post:
The crew tries to solve the problem. This doesn’t work. The female flight attendants clear space for the authoritative men on board … the ultra-Orthodox are not ready to speak with, or even look at the female flight attendants.
All the men in the crew, except for the captain, are now only dealing with this instead of preparing for takeoff and serving the passengers. The ultra-Orthodox don’t blink. One of the crew members threatens: ‘If you don’t sit down, you can get off the plane right now’.
Despite the threat, the crew eventually gave in after a prolonged argument:
Beginning the long diplomatic process of moving female passengers from their places.
Eventually, “after a lot of writhing, shouts and maneuvering,” an elderly American women and a young Israeli woman agreed to switch seats, allowing the flight to proceed for takeoff.
Rotem noted that other yarmulke-clad men aboard expressed “surprise and revulsion” at the four ultra-Orthodox men’s conduct.
The bottom line: At the time the El-Al plane was dealing with matters of practical theology and personal belief against individual rights and civil order, 12 planes from other companies cut ahead of the [El-Al] plane.
Can any traveler demand – and receive – moving other passengers from their places for their personal well-being and in accordance with their beliefs. Or is this a privilege reserved only for a segment of travelers.
One comment on Rotem’s Facebook page described the behaviour as “religious terrorism”.
El Al, Israel’s national carrier, later apologised for any inconvenience that was caused by the 75-minute delay.
Any discrimination against passengers is absolutely forbidden. El Al flight attendants do all they can in order to provide service to a wide variety of passengers with different and diverse requests and try to assist to the best of their ability.
All this in order to take off on time and bring the passengers to their destination on schedule.
El Al has been known to regularly ask passengers to move seats at the request – and sometimes the demand – of ultra-Orthodox men who refuse to sit next to women.
Last year, the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court ruled that El Al cannot force women to change seats at the request of ultra-Orthodox men. The court agreed with Israel Religious Action Center, which brought the suit, in ruling the practice was illegal and discriminatory.
One way El Al could prevent these sorts of incidents is to issue their Orthodox passengers with black tape or blindfolds to spare them the sight of females.