Just a week after Israel’s national airline El Al vowed to boot ultra-Orthodox Jews from planes if they refuse to take their assigned seats next to women, it’s happened on a different airline.
26 ultra-Orthodox Jews said they couldn’t sit by women due to a religious rule, delaying the Austrian Airlines flight from Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport by 40 minutes. The delay caused several passengers to miss their connecting flights.
The flight only took off after a couple of women changed seats at the captain’s request, presumably just because it was more important to get to their destination than put up a fight.
At least the criticism is intensifying:
Responding to the story on Twitter, Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid called for a severe response to such incidents.
“Once again a primitive group of Haredis moved and humiliated women on a flight,” he wrote. “If for once they’re removed from the flight without hesitation or recompense, this disgrace will end.”
That’s the right move. If passengers won’t sit in their assigned seats because of faith-based sexism, the airline should have every right to take them off the plane without a refund. There’s absolutely nothing gained by negotiating with religious zealots in a secular world.
Not that some of those zealots aren’t trying. After El Al made its promise last week, one ultra-Orthodox member of the Israeli government urged a boycott of the airline:
United Torah Judaism MK Yisrael Eichler pushed back against the notion that the men’s behavior on the flight was illegitimate, saying Wednesday in the Knesset plenum that claims the women were in any way humiliated or excluded were “malicious… anti-Semitic libel.”
Eichler asserted, “Never has anyone been forced to move against their wishes.
“I’m telling El Al that if you give in to the terrorism of Haredi-hating groups and remove a passenger who behaved properly and asked nicely to sit next to a man, we will remove hundreds of thousands of your passengers every year. Terror against terror.”
Talk about an overreaction…
The women were humiliated — as if there was something wrong with them that made these men unable to be in close proximity for a flight. And they were forced to move because of the religious temper-tantrums. And it’s not anti-Semitic to resist. Nor is it a form of terrorism to refuse to accommodate religious bigots.
Every time an airline bows down to these irrational wishes, they’re enabling this dogma. The ultra-Orthodox men should have a choice: They can fly and obey the rules we all live by in society, or they can figure out their own damn way to get somewhere. And if flying is a necessity, they should buy extra seats just to make sure they avoid all those woman-cooties.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Brian for the link)