Ultra-Orthodox Jews Delay El Al Flight Over Women Passengers

There is apparently such a thing as too Jewish.

There is apparently such a thing as too Jewish.

WaPo (“Ultra-Orthodox Jews delay El Al flight, refusing to sit near women“):

El Al passengers heading to Israel to celebrate the Jewish new year were delayed leaving New York on the eve of Rosh Hashanah when ultra-Orthodox passengers refused to sit near women.

Because their beliefs require men and women to be segregated, the ultra-Orthodox men, recognizable by their black hats and curly tendrils over the ears, attempted to trade their pre-assigned seats with other passengers, offering money in some cases, the Israeli news Web site ynetnews.com reported.

The pilot pleaded for them to sit down and the flight finally took off. But after takeoff, chaos erupted.

“I ended up sitting next to a … man who jumped out of his seat the moment we had finished taking off and proceeded to stand in the aisle,” a woman passenger identified only as Galit told Ynet. The man had asked her to move from the seat beside her husband to accommodate his religious beliefs, but she refused.

“People stood in the aisles and refused to go forward,” said Amit Ben-Natan, a passenger who was on board the plane.

“I went to the bathroom and it was a mission impossible, the noise was endless,” Galit said of the men crowding the aisle and praying loudly.

[…]

Airlines have also had to deal with ultra-Orthodox men of priestly descent called “kohanim” sealing themselves in plastic bags used to transport dead bodies to avoid ritual impurity when flying over a cemetery. According to Haredi Rabbi Yosef Shalom Eliashiv, sealing oneself in a plastic bag is the solution to this problem.

El Al initially allowed the practice before banning it in 2001 due to safety considerations. But in 2002, an El Al flight had to return to Ben Gurion airport after an ultra-Orthodox passenger insisted on wearing a plastic bag. And last year, another ultra-Orthodox traveler drew attention after a photo of the man shrouding himself in plastic on an airplane was posted on Reddit and circulated online.

In-flight movies are also a problem for the Haredim. In 2008, ultra-Orthodox passengers caused a disturbance on an El Al flight to Kiev when, according to Haaretz, witnesses said the men began shouting and trying to stop the movie screens from unfolding because they objected to a film. “It was a pretty frightening sight,” one passenger said.

Andrew Exum alerted me to the story with the quip, “”I demand both my 20th C. transportation technology as well as my 4th C. social norms!” That’s about right.

People are free to believe what they want to believe and these folks at least have the virtue of being non-violent, which distinguishes from other fanatics. But they don’t have the right to figuratively hijack airliners with their superstitions. If they can’t co-exist in modern society, they really don’t belong on public transportation.

 

 

FILED UNDER: Quick Takes, Religion
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. People are free to believe what they want to believe and these folks at least have the virtue of being non-violent, which distinguishes from other fanatics.

    When you physical obstruct people from going somewhere (in this case physically blocking the plane from leaving), you are being violent.

  2. Mu says:

    Just politely as them to step outside if they’re unhappy with the accommodations.

  3. Moosebreath says:

    “There is apparently such a thing as too Jewish.”

    Showing how little contact James has with the Jewish orthodox community.

    “People are free to believe what they want to believe and these folks at least have the virtue of being non-violent, which distinguishes from other fanatics.”

    Not necessarily. For example, in Mea Shearim, “”Modesty” posters in Hebrew and English are hung at every entrance to Mea She’arim. When visiting the neighborhood, women and girls are urged to wear what is deemed to be modest dress (knee-length skirts or longer, no plunging necklines or midriff tops, no sleeveless blouses or bare shoulders) and tourists are requested not to arrive in large, conspicuous groups. During the Shabbat (from sunset Friday until it is completely dark on Saturday night), visitors are asked to refrain from smoking, photography, driving or use of mobile phones. When entering synagogues, men are asked to cover their heads.[6] Residents have been criticised for attacking police, and other government officials entering the area with stones, and blocking the streets, or setting fire to rubbish when they try to do so. [7] A small, violent, group called “The Sikrikim” of less than 100 families enforce censorship on bookshops, causing over 250,000NIS damage to a shop that resisted their demands.[8]”

  4. gVOR08 says:

    OK. Delaying an airline departure – unacceptable.
    Requiring enlistees to say, ‘so help me God’ – unacceptable.
    Dictating what contraceptive methods your employee’s health insurance pays for – acceptable.

    Just trying to keep track of where the OTB goalpost is.

  5. PJ says:

    For some reason Republicans are screaming about Sharia law…

    This American Life had quite and interesting story about Hasidic and ultra-Orthodox Jews taking over the school board in a NY school district and the public schools. Well worth a listen.

  6. James Joyner says:

    @gVOR08:

    Just trying to keep track of where the OTB goalpost is.

    This isn’t hard. One of these is not like the other.

    If I were running a business offering health insurance, I wouldn’t give a hoot about its contraceptive plan. If anything, I’d want to ensure that it was generous enough to cover it. I’m pretty sure Doug and Steven would do the same. But Doug and I (I’m not sure Steven has weighed in) don’t think it’s such a crucial public policy issue that the government should step in and force employers to do so against their strong religious beliefs. (Caveat: we’re talking about either true small businesses or closely-held corporations that are essentially big mom and pops, not mega corporations.)

    But, yeah, it’s pretty obvious that we can’t have yahoos interfering with flights because of their religious beliefs.

    And opposing the state requiring military enlistees to pass a religious test is not only unconstitutional but it’s perfectly consistent with our position on Hobby Lobby.

  7. PJ says:

    @PJ:

    This American Life had quite and interesting story about Hasidic and ultra-Orthodox Jews taking over the school board in a NY school district and defunding the public schools.

    FTFY.

  8. Rafer Janders says:

    People are free to believe what they want to believe and these folks at least have the virtue of being non-violent, which distinguishes from other fanatics.

    Um, these fanatics are not always non-violent:

    Police on Thursday dispersed dozens of haredim (ultra-Orthodox) who were throwing stones at buses in Beit Shemesh. Two people were arrested during the disturbance and one policeman was lightly injured when he was hit by one of the stones.

    http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/Haredim-throw-stones-at-buses-in-Beit-Shemesh

  9. wr says:

    It’s not Jews. It’s fundamentalists. Fundamentalists of all religions are the problem.

    Although this one has an easy solution. Let them pack themselves in their plastic bags, and then use a vacu-seal on them…

  10. al-Ameda says:

    @wr:

    It’s not Jews. It’s fundamentalists. Fundamentalists of all religions are the problem.

    Agree. Ultra-Orthodox followers of any religion can be a problem.

    Air travel is gamey enough when you consider the inconsideration and rudeness of a few “average” travelers. Throw in this kind of thing and travel can become a figurative dumpster fire.

  11. Blue Galangal says:

    @James Joyner:

    But Doug and I (I’m not sure Steven has weighed in) don’t think it’s such a crucial public policy issue that the government should step in and force employers to do so against their strong religious beliefs. (Caveat: we’re talking about either true small businesses or closely-held corporations that are essentially big mom and pops, not mega corporations.)

    But – and this truly confuses me, I’m not trolling – doesn’t that mean you are also morally culpable for the decisions your employees make regarding their actual paychecks? Your employee can buy birth control with her insurance benefit that you provide as part of her compensation. Or your employee can take her paycheck that you provide as part of her compensation to CVS and buy birth control. What’s the moral difference? You’ve paid for the birth control either way, as her employer.

  12. James Joyner says:

    @Blue Galangal: Again, this isn’t my belief system. But I think I can distinguish between things that I’m directly funding and things that they buy with money that I pay them to do a job that then becomes their money. If I’m buying them health insurance that explicitly covers abortion/contraception/whatever, then I’m essentially funding their abortion/contraception/whatever and that’s on me. If they take their paycheck and spend it on whores, booze, cocaine, and rubbers, that’s on them.

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Joyner: James, your logic falls on it’s face once you acknowledge that both are compensation for their work, they earned it.

  14. James Joyner says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: But it’s a blood on the hands issue. In one case, you’re directly funding something you think it evil. In the other case, your hands are clean.

  15. Rafer Janders says:

    @James Joyner:

    No, there’s no distinction, since again they are both compensation for labor earned. The employer doesn’t fund the health insurance as a gift out of its own pocket, rather, it is compensaton earned by the employee in exchange for the employee’s labor.

    Money is fungible. A dollar of value is is a dollar of value, whether it’s given to you in the form of a cash paycheck or in the form of a healthcare benefit. Anyone who had a genuine, as compared to a pretextual, objection should object in both cases.

  16. Rafer Janders says:

    People are free to believe what they want to believe and these folks at least have the virtue of being non-violent, which distinguishes from other fanatics.

    You know, I see this a lot, the claim about the ultra-Orthodox that “at least they aren’t violent.” This is only true because, in most cases, they don’t personally have to be. They have the might of the Israeli Armed Forces behind them. They enjoy the benefits of being a favored sect in a state that has a monopoly of violence and often uses it on their behalf.

    Let the Haredim, however, switch places with the Palestinians, let them live as a despised minority in a majority Muslim Arab state, and there’s a non-zero chance that they’d turn to the same terrorist tactics as Hamas did — or that the Jewish terrorists of the 1940s such as the Irgun and the Stern Gang employed.

  17. James Joyner says:

    @Rafer Janders: @Rafer Janders: I’m not making an argument that ultra-Orthodox Jews are particularly nonviolent. Just that the sub-group in question is merely annoying rather than violent.

  18. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Two simple solutions here. They can start their own airline, or just charter a flight. They don’t get to impose their religious beliefs on others.

  19. Rafer Janders says:

    @James Joyner:

    But it’s a blood on the hands issue. In one case, you’re directly funding something you think it evil.

    So in one case, I as the employer help fund a healthcare plan with an insurance compan for my employees (which, again, they are only eligible to participate in if they labo for me, so it’s compensation for labor). The employee then uses that healthcare plan to buy contraceptives at a drugstore and bill the insurance company for it.

    In the other case, your hands are clean.

    In the other case, I as the employer hand a dollar bill to my employee in exchange for her labor. The employee then takes that dollar bill and uses it to buy contraceptives at a drugstore.

    How are my hands any cleaner in the second case? Arguably, they’re less clean, as there’s less of an intermdiating force in the form of an insurance company and a far more direct and traceable line from the dollar bill I hand over to the dollar bill that’s used to buy the contraceptives.

  20. Rafer Janders says:

    @James Joyner:

    If I’m buying them health insurance that explicitly covers abortion/contraception/whatever, then I’m essentially funding their abortion/contraception/whatever and that’s on me. If they take their paycheck and spend it on whores, booze, cocaine, and rubbers, that’s on them.

    The fault in your thinking is that you think of it as you the employer “buying them health insurance”, as if it’s some sort of gift from you to them rather than their earned compensation for labor. You’re not “buying them health insurance” anymore than you are “buying them a paycheck.” The health insurance IS COMPENSATION.

  21. Rafer Janders says:

    @James Joyner:

    If I’m buying them health insurance that explicitly covers abortion/contraception/whatever, then I’m essentially funding their abortion/contraception/whatever and that’s on me. If they take their paycheck and spend it on whores, booze, cocaine, and rubbers, that’s on them

    If they take their health insurance that explicitly covers abortion/contraception/whatever and use it to purchase abortion/contraception/whatever, that’s on them. If they take my money that I give to them via paycheck and spend it on whores, booze, cocaine, and rubbers, that’s on me.

    Why is the way I rewrote it above any less valid a way to look at it? As I said above, it’s all money. It’s all fungible. There’s no intellectually honest way to view money spent by an insurance company as “funding” something while money spent by the employee from a paycheck is not “funding” the same thing.

  22. Gavrilo says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Your premise is completely wrong. As a matter of law (and common sense) there is a distinction between wages and benefits. Health insurance is not money and it isn’t fungible. You can’t use your insurance card to buy groceries or pay your rent. Employer based health insurance is a benefit. As with other benefits, the employer can influence the manner in which it is utilized.

  23. wr says:

    @Gavrilo: “As with other benefits, the employer can influence the manner in which it is utilized.”

    Really? When I use my vacation pay, my employer can tell me where I’m allowed to go? When I take a personal day, my employer can weigh in on whether it’s personal enough? When I retire my employer can instruct me where and how to live?