The flight attendant pressed her further

Yet another man on yet another flight to Israel makes a woman change her seat because he doesn’t want a filthy whorey woman sitting next to him.

A retired lawyer who fled the Nazis as a child is suing the Israeli national airline El Al for alleged discrimination after being asked to move on a plane when an ultra-Orthodox Jew objected to sitting next to a woman.

Renee Rabinowitz, 81, is being supported by the Israel Religious Action Center, which has campaigned against ultra-Orthodox efforts to enforce the segregation of men and women and to have images of women removed from public hoardings.

You don’t get to “object to” sitting next to people in public accommodations unless they’re something along the lines of roaring drunk or covered in vomit. You don’t get to “object to” sitting next to them simply because they’re a category of human you consider beneath you. That shit needs to stop.

On 2 December last year, Rabinowitz settled into her business class seat on an El Al flight from New York to Tel Aviv following a visit to the US to see family. Her seat was one of a pair separated by a screen.

Shortly before the plane doors closed, a passenger who had been allocated the window seat next to Rabinowitz boarded. The middle-aged man, who was wearing ultra-Orthodox garb, called a flight attendant and spoke to him in Hebrew.

Rabinowitz said the flight attendant then offered Rabinowitz what he described as a better seat, one of the central row of three nearer the first class cabin. “I didn’t understand. It wasn’t a better seat,” she said.

Seeing as how she lives in Israel, I bet she did understand, all too well.

She said she initially declined to move, but the flight attendant pressed her further and as the plane was close to taking off, she felt she had no alternative. Using her walking stick, Rabinowitz followed him to the front of the business class section.

“I asked the flight attendant point blank if the man sitting next to me had asked me to be moved, and unabashedly he said yes.”

So it’s that taken for granted that women are filthy and unacceptable.

Back home in Jerusalem, Rabinowitz attended a public meeting at which Anat Hoffman, IRAC’s executive director, spoke about the organisation’s successful campaign to end gender segregation on Israel’s public buses at the demand of the ultra-Orthodox. Since IRAC won a court case on the issue, buses carry prominent notices informing passengers they may sit where they wish.

“Anat said they wanted to launch a similar action in the air. Afterwards I told her what had happened to me,” said Rabinowitz.

Hoffman said: “We kept hearing from women, both Israelis and tourists, that they had been asked to move seats on planes. We were looking for a good case to take up, and then Renee walked in. She’s 81, and a Holocaust survivor – and she was humiliated by Israel’s national airline.”

It’s not a good look, is it. “Excuse me, ma’am, and sorry about the Holocaust and everything, but this gentleman here can’t bear to have you sitting next to him, so I have to ask you to move.” The irony is breath-taking.

IRAC is awaiting El Al’s formal statement of defence, which must be submitted within 30 days of the lawsuit being filed. But in a letter to Rabinowitz’s lawyer, the company insisted there was no gender discrimination on El Al flights.

It said it had investigated the incident, and found that the flight attendant had dealt with Rabinowitz politely and sensitively, making it clear that Rabinowitz was not obliged to move. As a gesture of goodwill, El Al offered Rabinowitz a $200 (£140) voucher towards her next flight. “The money is not the important issue here, it’s the principle,” said Rabinowitz.

That’s even more insulting. Calling it “polite” and “sensitive” to make someone move just because the passenger next to her dislikes the category of human she is is incredibly insulting…especially, sorry to labor the point, from one Jew to another Jew. Offering her a voucher for an offensively small amount is insult 3.

Hoffman described El Al’s acquiescence to demands to move women passengers as “one more way that ultra-Orthodox extremists get away with demands that have nothing to do with Judaism. Humiliating women can in no way qualify as a religious act. It is simply not acceptable.”

In a statement, El Al said it maintained “the highest levels of equal treatment and respect for all passengers. Our employees in the air, on the ground, in Israel and around the globe do all possible to listen to and provide solutions to the concerns or requests from our customers whatever they might be, including seating requests on the airplane.”

So if someone asked to sit next to a gentile? Would El Al employees do all possible to listen to and provide solutions to the request?

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