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July 11, 2018

Media Story About Ultra-Orthodox Responsibility for Lengthy El Al Delay Disputed

Israeli journalist Sivan Rahav Meir reports in The Times of Israel today ("That Ultra-Orthodox flight delay? It didn't happen") that media claims, based on a Facebook post by Israeli rapper Chen Rotem, that a group of ultra-Orthodox men refusing to sit next to women delayed a flight for over an hour are not true. According to Meir, both a passenger on the flight and El Al dispute the claim, saying the bulk of the delay occurred even before passengers boarded, and that the seating delay lasted for approximately five minutes.

Passenger Katriel Shem-Tov wrote to Meir:

“Dear Sivan, I was on that flight from New York, the one that the media reported ‘took off an hour and a quarter late because of the Haredim.’ My wife and I celebrated our silver wedding anniversary and at 6 p.m., we were supposed to take off on our way home. However, before we even boarded, there was an announcement of a 45-minute delay and take-off would be at 6:45 p.m. The same information appeared on the screen in the departure lounge. Of course, the delay had nothing to do with any of the passengers.

“Boarding took a long time, ’till at least 7:10, I believe. My guess is that the whole business with the Haredim didn’t take more than five minutes. Of course, I am not justifying their behavior and one should not cause a delay of even one minute. I am Haredi myself, but I have never seen such behavior like theirs.

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El Al told Meir:

The details that were reported about the incident were not accurate, to put it mildly. In actual fact, the delay was totally unconnected to the incident. The plane’s journey to the runway at the airport in New York took about one hour and had nothing to do with the incident. Taking care of the two passengers who refused to sit in their allocated places occurred after the plane had already left the gate and only took a few moments. We will continue to do our best to transport our customers safely, comfortably, and according to schedule.

According to Haaretz ("El Al Flight From N.Y. Delayed 'After ultra-Orthodox Men Refuse to Sit Next to Women,'" June 23):

An El Al Israeli Airlines flight from New York to Tel Aviv was delayed last week by more than half an hour.

Such delays are not out of the ordinary, but the reason for this specific delay, according to an Israeli rapper who was aboard the flight, was the refusal of a group of ultra-Orthodox male passengers to sit next to women on the aircraft. . . .

Efforts by the flight crew to resolve the situation were initially unsuccessful and the men were only willing to speak to male members of the flight crew, Rotem wrote, adding that Orthodox or ultra-Orthodox male passengers expressed abhorrence at the four men’s conduct. Members of the crew threatened that if the four would not take their seats, they could disembark immediately, Rotem wrote.

"While on the El Al plane they were dealing with matters of practical theology and personal faith versus the rights of the individual and civil order, 12 planes from other carriers jumped the line ahead of Flight 002. The flight to Israel took off an hour and 15 minutes late.”

Posted by TS at July 11, 2018 04:42 AM

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