So El Al is in the news because of Haredi men pitching fits about being assigned seats next to women on flights, and causing flight delays.
Disclosure: I’m the daughter of a commercial pilot, and I know exactly how this would have come out on one of my dad’s flights, because he told me about an incident where a man was causing trouble and wouldn’t get in his assigned seat for some reason or other — my dad had a male flight attendant escort the fellow off the airplane and had law enforcement waiting to arrest him when he got to the gate. I’m probably by nature biased against people who cut up cranky on commercial flights and give flight crew headaches.
Something like the incidents described in this story happened to me when I was coming back from Israel in April of last year. (I was flying on Air Canada, though, not El Al.) The Haredi guy in question did not want to sit next to me, even though I was prepared to respect his peronal space as much as is possible when flying in steerage, not talk to him, and generally keep to myself. (This doesn’t bother me; I figure anybody with that many issues isn’t worth talking to.)
A Brief Halachic Aside, Thanks to My Friend RH, aka the “Facebooker Rebbe”: Rav Feinstein dealt with this question in regards to trains and buses, with logic that applies to planes:a) it’s not a situation that can lead to intimacy and//thus b) if you have a problem with it fella, think Torah thoughts. c) if you still can’t keep your mind off her, don’t ride the bus/train. I paraphrase but I did read the passage on another thread. Hint: Rav Feinstein is someone you can rely on in most circles.
See the actual source quotation here, even though the paraphrase is funnier.
I think this is very sensible, since I figure that if you’re the one complaining, you’re the problem and you need to be dealt with, which involves moving you and not the person with the ostensible girl/secular cooties.
So this Haredi guy did what I can only describe as threw a tantrum — he was remarkably indiscreet about announcing to pretty much everybody on the plane in English, French, and Hebrew that he simply would not sit next to me. He saved the more insulting stuff for French and Hebrew, probably figuring that I wouldn’t understand him, at least until I announced to pretty much everybody on the plane, in Hebrew — to make the point — “You know, I can understand you…” Heh. (Underestimate me at your peril.)
If he’d really wanted to insult me behind my back to my face, as it were, he should have used Yiddish.
And that was how I wound up sitting beside a real live Auschwitz survivor and veteran of the 1948 Israeli war — 90 years old, still sharp as a tack, and a great conversationalist, even if we kind of did have to use a mish-mash of languages due to his poor English and my poor Hebrew.