El Al Being Sued For Discrimination Over Seat Changes

We’ve seen several stories of issues on flights to/from Israel involving male passengers refusing to sit next to female passengers. It presents an interesting question as to where you draw the line between respecting peoples’ religious beliefs while also avoiding blatant discrimination.

Well, it looks like there’s finally a test case for religion vs. gender in public Israeli spaces, after an 81 year old retired lawyer with a PhD in educational psychology took a flight from Newark to Tel Aviv last December.

What happened on the flight? Per The New York Times:

Ms. Rabinowitz was comfortably settled into her aisle seat in the business-class section on El Al Flight 028 from Newark to Tel Aviv in December when, as she put it, “this rather distinguished-looking man in Hasidic or Haredi garb, I’d guess around 50 or so, shows up.”

The man was assigned the window seat in her row. But, like many ultra-Orthodox male passengers, he did not want to sit next to a woman, seeing even inadvertent contact with the opposite sex as verboten under the strictest interpretation of Jewish law. Soon, Ms. Rabinowitz said, a flight attendant offered her a “better” seat, up front, closer to first class.

When Ms. Rabinowitz returned to her original seat to collect her hand luggage, with the attendant’s assistance, she asked the other passenger, “Why does it matter? I’m 81 years old. And he says, ‘It’s in the Torah.’” After briefly arguing the point, she moved to the new seat.

Now, it doesn’t sound like she was forced to change seats, but rather that it was the solution the flight attendant suggested, and that she ended up agreeing. Here’s why she takes issue with that:

“Despite all my accomplishments — and my age is also an accomplishment — I felt minimized.”

“For me this is not personal,” Ms. Rabinowitz added. “It is intellectual, ideological and legal. I think to myself, here I am, an older woman, educated, I’ve been around the world, and some guy can decide that I shouldn’t sit next to him. Why?”

An action group is taking this to court, in hopes of preventing similar situations in the future. They’re suing El Al for ~$13,000, accusing them of illegal discrimination:

A lawyer for the religious action group wrote a letter to El Al last month saying that Ms. Rabinowitz had felt pressured by the attendant and accusing El Al of illegal discrimination. It argued that a request not to be seated next to a woman differed from other requests to move, say, to sit near a relative or a friend, because it was by nature degrading. The lawyer demanded 50,000 shekels (about $13,000) in compensation for Ms. Rabinowitz.

El-Al

Bottom line

I’m curious to see what happens with this case. I don’t believe El Al is engaging in any sort of intentional discrimination here. This is to say that I think their only motivation is to get their flights out on-time and keep their guests happy. At the same time, at some point the line has to be drawn between respecting religious freedom and avoiding making people feel minimized.

What do you think — is El Al in the wrong for enabling seat switches, or is it fine as long as they’re not forcing people to move?

(Tip of the hat to Jack)

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

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Comments

  1. It should have been left to the woman whether to move or not. If she didn’t want to move, the man should have been forced to move; it was his complaint about sitting next to a woman; *she* had no problem with sitting next to him.

    She shouldn’t have been forced, coerced, or whatever, to give up her seat.

  2. El Al needs to make it clear that women’s rights trump ignorant fundamentalist religious practice so these type of situations don’t recur. How would you feel if you were asked to move because the person seated next to you didn’t want to sit next to someone who is gay? Kudos to this woman for having the courage to stand up to such so-called religious discrimination.

  3. El Al should have offered THE MAN a new seat–maybe a center seat with a 300 lb. man on each side. After that ride his reading of the Torah may have a new interpretation.

  4. Don’t want to sit in your assigned seat Sir? Fine we got an very nice Y seat in the back next to the toilets.

    Wonder what that would do to mister super religious?

  5. I don’t think ElAl was wrong to offer a seat change. They certainly didn’t require it. I’d think that by the time you were 81 years old you’d be a little more understanding and not looking to sue over something so petty. Don’t get me wrong, as a religious (not Hassidic) Jew I understand the laws well. It happens regularly on ElAl flights and most of the time both people are happier for the switch. If she really didn’t want to switch she should have said so, and in all likelihood they would have asked the man if he would like to move.

    If one is a solo traveler who cares greatly not to be seated next to someone of the opposite gender, one would have a 50/50 chance of that happening. It doesn’t hurt to ask the airline, especially one that understands these values, like ElAl or Saudia, to help accommodate you, knowing full well that they may be unable to.

    In all honesty I think ElAl should have tried to reseat him instead of her. He had the issue, not she. They probably just reseated her for convenience.

  6. This is a complex political and ideological topic. Having lived in Israel for for years, the connection between religion and state is hard to dismiss. I’m sure the flight attendant acted as best as they could to minimize confrontation and delay. However, as an academist with a PhD, a scientist, journalist and businessman, I understand the feeling of being diminished to one’s external appearance instead of one’s accomplishments. I’m curious as to why they didn’t just reseat the Orthodox follower instead. Ultimately, this is something that will continue to occur in Israel and many other countries. It’s a touchy subject of freedom of religious expression. Do I agree with the discrimination? No. There are examples where religious practices have to adapt to the current day; i.e. Sikhs are not allowed to carry kirpans (a special knife to arrange their hair and there to their religion) on board the flight since it is a prohibited items. But, alas, this is probably not the last time such an act will be reported on the media, especially in Israel where Orthodox religious practitioners are protected and revered by the government.

  7. If you don’t want to be seated next to a woman, black, Jew, gay, Muslim, Asian, etc. then you can pay for any adjacent seat so it remains empty.

  8. If somebody didn’t want to sit next to me because of my gender, race, nationality, or sexual orientation (heterosexual in my case), the feeling would be mutual. I couldn’t help but take it personally, but I wouldn’t admit to its making me feel “minimized.”

    I would I would have had the presence of mind and Chutzpah to tell El Al to move me into F and, if they can’t or won’t do that, to request they instead move the passenger so offended by my presence.

    That’s an easy suggestion for us Monday morning quarterbacks. The whole other awkward aspect for the passenger is the concern that failure to obey the flight attendant’s “request” is grounds for removal from the plane. Perhaps El Al owes her some shekels for having put her in that awkward and unpleasant position.

    For that reason, I think the onus should be on El Al to move or offload the passenger who is dissatisfied with the seating arrangements.

    I also think the airline should have a fair and understandable policy in place covering such situations and feel sympathy for the FA put in the situation of trying to keep both passengers happy on the spot.

  9. If it’s so important for him, then he should put money where his religion is and pay for two seats, hence he has 100% guarantee not to be seated next to a woman.

  10. @avery111

    Perhaps the front business class seat also was next to another woman, so it was just more convenient to ask her. If she refused, the flight attendants might ask him if he’d like to be downgraded to economy or something…

    Frankly, if I was in her place I would agree to move up front because a) it’s still business class, actually even closer to the exit arguably better seat b) in the event that the front seat is next to another woman, the man still won’t take it and if there are no economy seats with male neighbors, I’m stuck with a very seemingly unfriendly neighbor.

    Dave.

  11. People who don’t fly private jets don’t have the right to discriminate when it comes to fellow passengers. Period. This ought to be a DOT rule for all carriers using USA airports. Nobody should be negatively impacted due to the prejudices or nonsensical religious mumbo jumbo of a fellow passenger (that include all religious).
    And while we are at it there should be a rule for minimum hygiene standards. Anybody who reeks (perfume included) should be kicked off immediately.

  12. This is discrimination. Even if due to functionality, asking a person to move because of gender is pure discrimination.
    Should have moved her to first class or have moved the man.
    This is essentially segregating the cabin.

  13. The flight attendant made what they thought was the best decision at the time. Had the flight attendant offered the man the ‘better seat’, commenters here would be even angrier. As Fredd mentioned above, it’s easy for us to say what should’ve been done after the fact.

  14. @JoshR crazy Jewish guy who believes if you push a button on a Saturday you go to hell comes in and tells a woman who paid for her seat and was sitting there minding her business that he doesn’t want her sitting near him, then the FA (a woman, out of all things) plays along and asks her if she wants to move, and then she gets humiliated in front of the whole plane while she collects her things and move.

    Petty? I would argue that believing on an invisible man in the sky and skipping pork cause someone tells you it’s forbidden is more pitiful.

  15. There’s an easy way to avoid this sort of nonsense: don’t fly to quasi-theocratic banana republics like Israel and Saudi Arabia.

  16. whenever I read stories about someone being made uncomfortable by the presence of another passenger for whatever reason (and usually it’s a really ridiculous reason), I always wonder why the airline tries to accommodate the complainant?!? Too many people have been kicked off planes because someone else is uncomfortable flying with another random passenger who is simply minding their own business. The FA/airline should simply tell the complaining passenger that they are free to leave the aircraft. This is not the first time this happened on El Al either. I think the last time it happened the flight was delayed because they refused to sit down for takeoff and then stood in the aisle most of the flight praying loudly (maybe they should try to emulate Saudia and make a prayer area, ironic I know 😉

    If people honestly have such an issue, they should ask the check-in agent to seat them next to a male BEFORE they get on the plane and not make a scene out of it on board. I pick my seats at booking for every flight sometimes months ahead which is why it infuriates me when people ask me to switch. If you wanted to sit in a particular seat you should have booked it when you booked your flight. I don’t think it’s wrong to ask but you ask once and accept whatever response you get and don’t try to badger the person because unless your travel companion will drop dead on board without you next to them, I can’t think of a compelling reason.

  17. Unquestionably, this was discrimination. If the guy was unhappy with his seat, he should have moved back to coach since the problem resided with him, hopefully with him squeezed in between a couple of big strapping football types. The poor woman did nothing to deserve this. Behavior of this sort is no better than the Kuwait Airways action of barring Israeli citizens on their flights.

  18. People should be allowed to follow their religious beliefs. People who don’t eat pork should not be forced to eat bacon. And people who don’t want to sit next to a woman should not be forced to fly. Problem solved!

  19. @ChuckLesker

    Ok, so if your religious beliefs don’t allow you to sit next to someone of the opposite gender then move. Someone as accomplished and senior as Ms. Rabinowitz should not be forced to move on account of her gender. That’s absurd!

    El Al should respect every religious belief but not at the cost of gender discrimination.

  20. “I don’t believe El Al is engaging in any sort of intentional discrimination here.”

    Ben, really? REALLY?

    Seriously, discrimination affects everyone and it’s NOT ok…regardless if it’s ‘intentional’ or not.

  21. When you are asked by a flight attendant to move, you generally comply. Especially in the United States, you fear that non-compliance will get you booted from the flight with a police escort.

    So, the woman really did not have a choice to decline.

    I hope she gets the $13,000 — nobody is forcing this man to fly commercial. If his religion is so important to him, he can charter a private jet or travel to Israel via boat.

  22. Matt’s right. If a guy can’t sit next to some subset of humanity, he should buy the seat next to him or bring a (boy)friend as a human gender shield. (Can you imagine asking to have the guy next to you moved cause he was white and toothless?)

  23. Simply it’s a loose-loose situation all the way around. Religious beliefs can be respected but discrimination should never be tolerated. Quite simply the man should have planned ahead. He cannot expect the world to bend to his rules whenever he travels. It doesn’t work that way. I’m sure El Al would have been eager to accommodate his needs had he thought ahead and made a proper request to the reservation agents. You can’t just walk on to a plane and rearrange the seating to accommodate your 12th century religious beliefs. I’m a non practicing Jew and am embarrassed by these situations. Tell him to move to any country bordering Israel and he will never see an unrelated woman again. Ok kids, can we spell c-o-e-x-i-s-t?

  24. It’s baffling that in 2016 we’re even debating this. Religion has no right over the law of the country (i.e. a woman has the same right as a man, and should be treated equally) and not to mention basic courtesy. If this man was not happy about seating next to a woman, he should have looked for another seat, and if not available, deplane and catch another flight. Same issues happened on the Saudi airline. We live in a country where the law of the land prevails, even more when you’re asking an 81y old woman to change seats…because…well she’s a woman. She’s so right to sue.

  25. I am going to start a religion where I am not allowed to sit next to anyone. And since I fly coach, they will have to leave the middle seat empty.

    Perhaps my religion will also prohibit checked baggage fees.

    Anybody want to join???

  26. The FA is just looking for an easy life (understandable). Figured that offering a ‘better’ seat to the lady was the easiest way out of this (messy) situation. On the other hand, if she was unhappy with the new seat, then she should have been allowed to stay put.

  27. Big fail on ElAl’s part! The one to be re-seated should have been the male. If nothing else ‘suitable’ left in Business I’m sure there would have been something in Y. If not, I’m certain there would have been someone in Y delighted to swap seats with this pest. I’m surprised the group suing on behalf of this lady is only aiming at $13,000. C’mon guys! It’s America! $1,300,000 minimum!!

  28. I think something to consider for all the folks complaining about the lady having to move is that she was offered a better seat. I’m not sure if El Al has premium economy or extra legroom seats at the front of the cabin so maybe this was why she was offered the better seat instead of rewarding the guy who was complaining?

  29. Why they didn’t give the MAN 3 options:
    1) Move to another seat
    2) Seat next to the woman in your original seat and shut up
    3) If you are not happy deplane and go home

    If I were the lady I would not leave my original seat. She was not the problem but the guy was the problem.

  30. “I don’t believe El Al is engaging in any sort of intentional discrimination here. This is to say that I think their only motivation is to get their flights out on-time and keep their guests happy.”

    Perhaps better to characterize it as El Al “intentionally” discriminating, but accommodating a seriously held religious belief? Face it, there is terrible tension between what folks view as their civil rights and what folks view as accommodations of their religious beliefs. The details of this situation no doubt beg for development, and I, too, wonder, why El Al did not visit the inconvenience upon the passenger who was sensitive.

    But I do not know the details. But, seriously, must Ms. Rabinowitz get her panties in a bunch over being encouraged to changed to a purportedly comparable seat? Surely she knows that celebrating diversity involves dealing with some engaging those with more traditional beliefs – celebrating diversity, ipso facto, requires such consideration.

    From what I can tell, she is not a 21st century Rosa Parks.

  31. The correct response here is, sorry sir, that’s your seat but you may deplane if you don’t want it. The airline should not accommodate his discrimination in any way by offering to move anyone.

    For those saying the proper result was to ask the man to move, I’m curious if your answer is the same if the other passenger was black. If the man claimed a religious objection to sitting next to a person of African descent would you accommodate him? I’m sure nobody for a moment would consider asking the black passenger to move, but I think most would similarly think the airline should not offer to move the religious passenger either. It should simply not countenance such an accommodation. If you agree with that but think this is different, why?

  32. If people choose to fly El Al and Saudia, they should be well aware that these are not normal carriers. Notwithstanding the modern perception of the relative backwardness of the prevalent culture of these flag carriers, it should be of no surprise the treatment you will receive.

    Cultural relativism cuts both way.

    If you are not happy, then don’t fly them. The economic impact will either force the airlines in question to change, or seek financial assistance from the government to continue flying to meet the demand of the niche market (who may pull the levels of power in government or sway election results).

    Therefore it makes perfect sense for El Al not to belong to any alliance to ensure it’s cultural non-modern practices do not have a greater impact outside of the niche market. On the other hand Saudia being part of Skyteam is looking for trouble – unless of course being part of Skyteam is just a branding exercise and there is no real intention of integrating much closer into the Skyteam network.

  33. Since El Al has a good percentage of passengers who are orthodox enough that the issue comes up repeatedly, they should take a page from the smoking era and create a zone for orthodox Jewish men where no women are seated. No one has to move seats once on board.

  34. If this man was so bothered who he sat next too he should have paid for 2 seats together. I hate religion sometimes!

  35. Since when do civilised humans fly El Al, its without a doubt the most abhorrent airline in existence.

    I would rather ride my ride through war torn Afghanistan than fly El Smell airlines.

  36. @TheRealBabushka
    “If you are not happy, then don’t fly them.”

    If an air carrier is not happy with how things are done in USA, then don’t fly to/from USA!

    “The economic impact will either force the airlines in question to change”

    Do you personally think USA should not have any anti-discrimination law and Americans should simply allow restaurants to refuse to serve people of certain race, of certain sexual orientation, of certain national origin, or in this case, of certain gender, because, well, eventually, according to you, “the economic impact will force the [entity] in question to change”?

  37. Ben would not have given the airline any benefit of doubt had this been a case of a gay person being “asked” to move because no one wants to sit next to a gay person. The tone of this article would also not be so mild.

  38. Apparently the lady moved without objection and is now trying to pad her wallet by suing the evil airline.

    This is such a trivial issue that I fully expect to hear it argued during the next Republican primary debate!

    These days People will sue over any trivial issue. It is part of the new world order…

  39. If anyone has flown El Al before you know it’s a complete and utter sh*tshow with crazy, rude, chassidim and their 8 kids bouncing around all over through the aisles. I’ve seen chassidim, and other rude passengers refuse to sit in their assigned seats for whatever reason. I’ve even been told stories by station managers of chassidim frequent flyers who showed up 5 minutes before departure and their upgrades were given away, and then they refused to take their assigned seat in coach, preventing the flight from leaving. The employees and flights attendants at this airline have to deal with a lot of BS, and I have a lot of respect for them for having to deal with really tough clientele. The FA made the decision that would easily solve the problem, and hopefully make every party happy. They didn’t demand she move, they simply asked her. She could have made an objection or said no, but she didn’t. If the lady was so offended and upset, then she should have said something instead of getting up to move. Why is she now suing?

    Was it wrong to move her? Yes. But the employees were not purposely trying to “segregate” the cabin, or offend anyone. They were simply trying to make everyone happy, and get the plane out on time. Given that this elderly woman agreed to move, and did not make any objections, I don’t think she has much of a case here to complain, and to sue after the fact.

  40. Such a shame when Ultra-Orthodox Jews (Haredi, Hassidim, whatever) behave this way. They make up a relatively small percentage of all Jewish people, and they fly El Al because they know that no American or European Airline would tolerate this behavior. El Al shouldn’t tolerate it either. I agree that if a man believes he cannot sit next to a woman because their bodies may come into contact and break the Shomer Nagia, then he should buy two seats. El Al is simply trying to make the best of awkward situations.

  41. A few things don’t make sense:
    If she moved without any objection or fuss, why is she suing now?
    Why didn’t they ask him to move?
    In economy class, you end up touching the person next to you, which is forbidden according to Jewish Law if they are the opposite gender. This was business class so what’s the big deal?

    For all those who said “put him in Y class and we’ll see how religious he is”- you don’t get it. Jews in general are strong believers. People like him won’t fly next to a woman no matter what.

  42. Most of the comments here have excelled in utter ignorance of both this particular incident and of the law.

    I am going to try and clarify just one point. I haven’t got the patience for more and frankly and you haven’t got the ears.

    Discrimination is when one behaves unjustly due to beliefs that they are entitled more than the other simple due to sex, race, religion etc.
    This gentleman, who I’m sure would have moved seats had that been the option presented to him, simply wanted to sit comfortably according to his religious beliefs. NOT due to any “greater” feeling.

  43. To me it is discrimination. I don’t think it is relevant that the lady “voluntarily” complied with the suggestion to move.

    On a plane, the FA is an authority, and we have all been trained to follow instructions or fear being kicked off the plane. And it is a thin line between a suggestion, a request, and an order.

  44. @Sammy, I agree that this may not be a case of gender discrimination but rather the airline just trying to be accommodating. However, I also don’t agree with your definition of discrimination. I also think you’re giving this man far too much credit. The fact that he’s asking someone to move seats to comply with his religion shows that he feels entitled to some kind of special treatment. The woman had no problem sitting with him. A part of me does think she agreed because we live in a time where FAs seem to enjoy their power trips (apparently changing your flight or upgrading your ticket can get you kicked off)…I shudder to think what would have happened had his request not been complied with.

  45. Litigious woman. What she should have done was refused to move, then see what happened. If the crew forced her to move, then she has a case. If she moves willingly, she has no case. So tired of these people. Take a stand! Don’t wimp out and then decide later that you bypassed an opportunity for some $$$.

  46. @kq747 I am only using the information provided in the article. From the article it is certain that the gentleman did not ask Ms. Rabinowitz to move. The FA may have understood that he was uncomfortable or he actually told the FA who then decided to try and accommodate the passenger. It was never the passenger’s decision to move Ms. Rabinowitz.

    I start asking questions when people throw around the word “discrimination” and “ultra-religious” in one sentence.
    Discrimination IS a terrible thing, it doesn’t make a difference if the one being discriminated against is 20 years of age or 80, has a Ph.D or doesn’t. To Ms. Rabinowitz it seems very relevant, the article made sure to mention it 5+ times. That tells me that there is a “respect” factor that bothers Ms. Rabinowitz. I think “discrimination” is what this Israel Religious Action Center is hiding behind. This group has an agenda, that is obvious from their history. It’s an anti Haredi agenda that gets a Ms. A Hoffman very verrry excited.
    Ms. Rabinowitz seems like a sincere person, an understanding person who should have been treated better on the flight. She shouldn’t let this group run with her story, they have very different agendas.

  47. So a lady is travelling to the JEWISH homeland,
    on the national carrier of the JEWISH homeland – which serves its citizens
    is seated next a man who actually practices the beliefs of the JEWISH religion,
    is ASKED by the flight attendant if she WANTS to move
    to a BETTER seat
    She AGREES to do so
    and now complains about feeling minimalised and wanting compensation….

    And you foolish sheep come on here bleating about this terribly ‘intolerant’ man who
    is flying to the JEWISH homeland
    on a carrier serving the JEWISH homeland
    wants to comply with his JEWISH laws
    has actually paid a considerable amount for his seat
    for all we know, simply ASKED the flight attendant if a seat swap is possible
    which is a request that happens very very frequently due to the nature of the airline, clientele and country that it operates from!

    Strange how everyone is gettting up in arms about how this man should have been tolerant and we should all coexist, yet do not have the slightest interest in this man’s beliefs. And for all you jokers out there talking about setting up new religions – we are talking about a religion that has been in practice for thousands of years here- no one has made up anything to get a better airplane seat.

    So what does it mean to be tolerant of others? Does it mean that we forcibly demand that they accept every single new belief that develops in the West? Or could tolerating others possibly mean that we actually accept that they have beliefs and principles different to ours, that we disagree with, yet they are perfectly entitled to?

    I think it is simply a shame that someone who thinks they have spent 81 years well has learned so little in that time!

  48. Maybe El Al should refresh their aircraft with an updated business class product like Emirates has on their A380’s where if you book a window seat you are guaranteed not to sit next to anyone

  49. @Sammy, which is why I said this does not seem like a case of gender discrimination to me either but rather just the FA trying to accommodate the request and not delay the flight over it, and it was the easiest but maybe not the best way to handle the situation. We do not know for sure whether he asked to be moved or asked to have Ms Rabinowitz moved.

    I was also weirded out by many articles specifically quoting her age, profession, education and that she fled nazi europe. These are all completely irrelevant to me and should have no bearing on the matter. On the other hand, if the agenda is to ensure that incidents where people feel entitled to religious accommodation are eradicated and if Ms. Rabinowitz can help further that cause, I for one, am all for it. Just because this suit can further a particular agenda does not make the suit wrong nor does it automatically make the agenda wrong. If the agenda is to disenfranchise Haredi from their fundamental rights then perhaps it’s bad. But, if the agenda is to prevent them from being entitled and seeking special treatment/accommodation, then is that a bad thing? Now if Ms Rabinowitz is not happy with that agenda then she can drop the suit and perhaps find other representation.

  50. Maybe the article mentions the woman’s education to contrast it to the gentleman’s adherence to a school of thought still kicks and screams at attempts to drag it out of the Bronze Age with respect to views about the proper place of women and the desirability of educating them beyond cooking skills?

  51. We are not living in the Year 10 ! Duh. Religious radicals have NO right to impose their strange beliefs upon others- any where, any time, any place. Period. The Jewish Radical should have either moved, bought the seat next to him, of LEFT the plane. Period. We do NOT need religious fanaticism in this world, from women prohibited from driving or going to school, to genital mutilation, to blacks at the back of the bus, to not sitting beside a member of half the human race. Get a grip, Zippy– this is 2016, not some ancient time and place where seas parted, bushes spontaneously combusted, and booming voices came from the skies to tell us how to live our lives– or die.

  52. If there were an emergency evacuation, would the ultra-orthadox men demand to go first because the could not use the slide FOLLOWING a woman?
    Can a man use the bathroom after a woman?
    They should have moved her to First and charged him the difference.

  53. What normal human being flies El Al.
    Surely she had other airlines to take for example Arian afghan airlines offering a wonderful inflight service

  54. @marcel Firstly, tolerance of intolerance, is NOT tolerance. Secondly, the fallacy that the woman was being offered a better seat is ridiculous on its face. The FA tried to make it sound better because it was closer to F but how is that necessarily a better seat? Answer: it’s not different (assuming it was an aisle seat too and presumably in middle section of the plane as opposed to window section).

    Correct me if I’m wrong but you seem to be suggesting that even if this man demanded that the woman be moved because of his religious conviction it should be ok because he is flying on El Al to Israel? In your mind is it ok to allow someone to rely on draconian beliefs to because a religion says so and this religion happens to be very old? What would you say if a hindu passenger was flying on Air India to DEL and refused to sit next to someone from the “untouchable caste” because their religion doesn’t allow it? Or if a catholic flew on Alitalia to FCO and refused to sit next to a Jew because the bible says to stay away from unbelievers?

  55. Just curious – would a US carrier it any other carrier for that matter (other than El Al) accommodate this type of request (on a flight to Israel or anywhere)?

    For the record I agree with what seems to be the consensus on here, he could either keep his assigned seat; buy two seats, or find alternate means of travel.

  56. @Marcel The age of a religion has nothing to do with the acceptability of its beliefs, and in fact the older it is the more not less likely it is to be intollerable. Why does an adherent to an older book get more consideration than, say, a Mormon? The issue is whether the practice of one’s religion is compatible with doing things like flying in a tight tube with 200 others in 2016. If it isn’t, it is the adherent who should be burdened, not those of us who do not pin our salvation on intollerable ideas.

    Some ultra-orthodox do not wish to touch women, because of a fear the woman might be menstuating and thus is “unclean”. Believe what you want to believe. But some beliefs like these, should you choose to try to make others accommodate them, simply disqualify you from certain activities. If an airplane passenger sought to be moved, claiming to belong to a sect that taught an interpretation of some passage in the Old Testament that black people are “dirty,” we wouldn’t even be having this discussion. My imaginary passenger’s interpretation is based on the same ancient book. Maybe this is a less common interpretation of that book than the ultra-orthodox Jewish person’s interpretation of the uncleanliness of women, but why does that matter? Assume that my imaginary passenger’s belief is every bit as sincerely held as the ultra-orthodox passenger’s — he genuinely believes his eternal salvation is at stake should he have to sit next to a black man. Do you accommodate one but not the other? If the answer is yes, you are playing favorites between religions. Maybe the better answer is that if you wish to hold to Bronze Age beliefs about other human beings on this planet — whatever the source, age, or sincerity of your belief — you should stick to Bronze Age forms of transportation.

  57. @John,

    I think we need to be warry of the trap that the Right have fallen into, by imposing their will on the community.

    By insisting these are the new enlightened standards, and enforcing those standards, we become no better than those on the Right.

    The key to this is the market. The market is a beautiful thing. With the right educational policy settings, there will be a change in the general community and, if the market is not distorted, business with outmoded practices will perish. As consumer groups we need to highlight deficiencies and inform the public.

  58. That anyone could think the actions of the man in question were not discriminatory, is beyond me. El Al had to make a choice. Protect the rights of the elderly woman or give in to the demands of the man. They made their bed and now find themselves in hot wate.

    Fwiw, the elderly woman is hardly a money seeker. What she is suing for is a pittance and she could have sought far greater damages. If the case is decided in her favor, ElAl better prepa for a much larger suit to follow that will cost them millions.

    Lastly…to anyone arguing that because she complied and changed seats, she has no right to sue and there is no discrimination present…

    That is like saying because black people voluntarily sat on different benches than white people and rode in different sections of a bus and went to different schools, restaurants, etc in Alabama not all that long ago, then that must mean no discrimination was present and they had no claim…let that marinate for a little.

  59. So much non sense. When I come to my seat and man who smells is sitting there, why would it be considered discrimination if I’d ask nicely if the FA could figure something out? The guy had nothing personal against women, all he did was follow his religious believes. And as a matter of fact that pax knew that very well. Why in hell is asking someone in a nice way called discrimination? Complete non sense. Just another move by the horrible reform movement. FYI it is the reform movement who is behind this ridiculous case. Of course when the woman would be forced then that would be different story

  60. The issue is not gender discrimination versus free exercise. If next month the same 81 year old woman was seated to the same Orthodox man, she might ask to be moved because she was traumatized by her last experience. Could the man sue El Al for religious discrimination? What if an Orthodox woman makes the same request when seated next to a man (it happens on El Al all the time)? What if I am seated next to a person with a foul odor? Can he sue me for embarrassing him even if he has a Ph.d? We all have the right to ask for a seat change, whether it is because we like the aisle for easy access to the bathroom or because of our religious beliefs. The person asked to switch has the right to say no on any airline. The job of the airline is to try and accommodate every passenger as best possible. Since our 81 year old agreed to move, she has no right to sue the airline over a request in which she has full right to say yes or no. To say otherwise is to subject us all to frivolous lawsuits. Those of you that feel the need to insult Orthodox Jews based on a belief system you don’t understand have the wrong issue to vent your hatred and ignorance. You also have the right to ask the airline to move your seat next time your seated next to an Orthodox Jew. Just remember who is the bigot.

  61. @Stuart, a few things regarding your post:
    1. In the story, Ms. Rabinowitz was asked to move. It is not immediately clear whether the man volunteered to have himself moved. It is therefore not analogous to your hypo.
    2. If an orthodox woman refuses to sit next to a man, again she can move herself, but she should not be allowed to make someone else move because she has an issue.
    3. Everyone has the right to say they do not wish to change seats, but in the current climate especially in the USA where defying FA requests/instructions is grounds for getting kicked off a flight, how many people do you think are saying no to a FA?
    4. “Those of you that feel the need to insult Orthodox Jews based on a belief system you don’t understand have the wrong issue to vent your hatred and ignorance.” No one is trying to insult orthodox judaism. I don’t need to understand orthodox jews to know that there is something inherently wrong where anyone demands segregation from people from the opposite gender as a matter of right. I am not 100% sure what the reason is for segregation so perhaps you can fill me in.This is a very contentious issue even amongst modern israeli society where many people claim that the norms of millenia long since passed have no place in 2016… and I must agree with them on this! People used the bible and its texts to rationalise slavery in the 1800s and homophobia even to date. Should we follow suit in this respect? who then becomes the bigot?

  62. This is a perfect example why I, even as a Jew myself, have a great deal of disdain for the Haredi/ultra-Orthodox community. They do nothing but run around looking for excuses to be offended or ways to make life difficult for those who are not Haredim.

  63. FACT:
    The woman was ASKED to move seats
    The seat she was moved to was a better seat by her own description

    NOT FACT:
    The man asked her to move
    The man asked for her to be moved
    The man was in any way offensive
    The woman was in any way or form coerced or put under any pressure

    All you have is one person trying to live according to his principles and asking, in a manner that no one in the know has stated was done in an offensive manner, whether they could be accomodated. The FA, on seeing this situation chose to offer what has been specified as a better seat (and no one in the know has disputed this) to the women passenger rather than the man, which makes sense as doing otherwise encourages people to use this type of request even if they are insincere.

    All you people trying to read into the story anytihng more are simply making up facts to suit your prejudices. You have no reason to claim that the woman ‘felt coerced’ if she didnt claim that. You have no justification to claim that because some FA’s go on power trips, this means that the woman here felt she had no choice – if she herself does not claim this. You have no reason to insist that the better seat is a farce as it was ‘probably an identical aisle seat in the middle row’ and that being further up makes no difference – when the woman in question herself stated that it was a better seat.

    The FA’s only mistake, in my opinion, was of thinking that the woman was tolerant. Sadly she was mistaken.

    And as for all you people claiming tolerance – take a look in the mirror. Your idea of tolerance seems to be tolerating everyone – just so long as they dont agree to everything YOu thnk is right. The minute they think differently, you are up in arms. It doesn’t matter if the guy lives in a country where a huge section of society agree wholy with him, it doesnt matter if he isnt in the slightest intolerant but just adheres to a religion that has always believed that men and women who are not married or related do not touch each other, it doesnt matter if he may have acted as nicely as possible – you’ll find ways to make up stories about what he did, how he did it and why his beliefs make him a {shudder} intolerant!

    At least some posters here are more honest. They disagree with religion and anyone who practices it. But if you want to pretend to be tolerant of others, please stop spouting your intolerance at any flimsy or made up opportunity.

  64. To Kq747: Thanks for your comments and questions. Interestingly enough today I mentioned that I posted on this issue to a colleague and she told me that it was her relative. She related that the reason the woman was asked to move and not the man, was that all the seats available would have still put him next to a woman by swapping his window for a window. He was willing to move it just would not have solved anything.
    Making a request should not be perceived as claiming a “right”. If the woman would have said no, that would have been the end. No need for the FAA or any other authority to intervene. No one said this man was being belligerent.
    The reason for the request by an Orthodox man to be seated next to another man is not out of discrimination towards woman. Nor does it have to do with women menstruating. That is sheer ignorance. Orthodox men and women do not touch people of the opposite sex unless they are their spouses or close relatives (parents and grandparents). Sitting next to the woman is not the issue. Sitting in a window seat where the 81 year old woman will go to sleep and then the man will be forced to squeeze by her and touch her is the issue. He doesn’t want to touch her and he does not want to inconvenience the woman to get up (I have the right to get out of my airline seat without brushing against the person next to me- or is that also gender discrimination?). No one is advocating that women should fly in the back of the plane, receive less pay for the same work. It’s not regressive, it’s a sensitivity that others can chose to accommodate or not. This is not the same as trying to use the bible to justify slavery. The belief harms no one. It is not discriminatory and it is only a request. Once again, saying no would have put the whole thing to rest. This question was about how this affects airline etiquette and not a referendum on personal religious beliefs and their validity. As long as the religious persons requests are made as requests and not demands, society should be protected from litigious remedies for every perceived wrong. The damage to our 81 year old’s feelings is de minimis to the inconvenience of moving of her own volition. She did not want to be asked. Is that worth a lawsuit of 50,000 shekel? Not every wrong has a monetary remedy and is this really a burden to ask someone to say “no, I would like to keep my seat”.

  65. @Marcel The only one claiming “tolerance” is you. It isn’t “tolerance” not go discriminate based on gender. But to be very clear, I am perfectly happy with being called “intolerant” here. We all should be intolerant to repulsive ideas and discrimination.

  66. Hey Sammy thanks for the extra information about the story and also for elaborating about the “no touching policy.” Although I’m not sure you mentioned the menstruation thing because you assumed that what I thought it was about or that’s a common assumption amongst people. If he doesn’t want to brush up against a woman getting out of his seat why didn’t he take the aisle seat that was offered to Ms. Rabinowitz? No one would bother him then.
    Again, saying “no” to an FA is not a straight forward as it used to be. Depending on how moody and power trippy your FA is that day could really ruin your trip. We don’t know how badly this could have gone had Ms Rabinowitz stood her ground then and there.

    There is undeniably a bigger picture here. The reason I think this case is important is not because Ms. Rabinowitz will get her 50,000 shekels but rather because of the precedent it would set (50,000 is pretty de minimis as far as a total of compensatory and punitive damage awards go and to an airline like El Al, that’s a drop in the ocean). Israel still has systems like de facto segregated buses which people and specifically women are trying to fight. While they were declared illegal (not that long ago I might add), they continue to operate in large numbers and orthodox men do in fact quite literally force them to the back of bus. This type of thinking has pervaded many other parts of life in Israel where orthodox jews are demanding segregated health clinics and side walks. That is regressive. Sounds a lot like separate but equal or apartheid separated toilets and buses. This type of incident is not the first on El Al and the airline seems to be letting people get away with it. Now Ms. Rabinowitz’s case isn’t the best test case in my opinion, because it is not very clear cut but I do hope that some good does come of it.

  67. Marcel, I’m not sure which article you read but i’ll quote from the NYT article.

    1. “a flight attendant offered her a “better” seat, up front, closer to first class…then persuaded Ms. Rabinowitz to come and see the “better” seat, at the end of a row of three.”
    Notice how the word “better” is in quotation marks. This shows that it simply the FA assertion that the seat was “better” not the passenger’s opinion. Also note the word “persuaded.”
    2. “Still, Ms. Rabinowitz said she felt further insulted because the attendant had tried to mislead her. “The flight attendant treated me as if I was stupid,” she said, “but that’s a common problem in Israel if you don’t speak Hebrew. They assume things about you. They assume they can put one over you.””
    The passenger clearly states that the FA tried to have her switch seat under the guise of a “better” seat and it was not any better or worse. Please show me where the passenger claims it was in fact a “better” seat.
    3. “Ms. Rabinowitz had felt pressured by the attendant.” Second time the article mentions that the passenger felt pressured. Now none of us know what the FA’s tone or demeanor was so for the purposes of this discussion, we have to go with what Ms. Rabinowitz and her attorneys are saying as per the article.
    4. Your views on what tolerance are seem quite warped. You have used the fact that a religion is very old to justify intolerance and now the fact that Israel is majority jewish. As I said before, tolerance of intolerance is NOT tolerance. To suggest that to be truly tolerant we must also accept bigotry whether it is about religion, race or gender, is a strawman position. A just because the majority of people support a position does not make it the correct position (even though Israel is not majority orthodox). If Israel voted to legalise slavery and it passes with majority vote, does that make it ok? When fundamental human rights are at risk, we don’t do what the majority wants. We do what is right. Freedom from unjust discrimination is a fundamental right of all people.

  68. @kq747 Right on point 4. The shorter version is that ideas that women are potentially dirty Sucubuses that cannot be touched is repulsive whether one holds the belief due to “religion” or just because he woke up one morning and decided to believe it.

  69. let me ask you a stupid question

    if I’m a convicted serial rapist, and was suggested by my psycho-therapist to minimize as much as possible friction with people from the opposite sex.
    would anyone her disagree that by requesting to change seat I’m doing the right thing?
    an that my act is basically somewhat even more in favour of the women seated next to me than my own?

  70. why in the world would you view this as discrimination?
    discrimination is giving someone less or more not based on objective factors.
    the reason religious people refuse sitting next to a women is not “because” she is a “women” and therefore she should be treated differently than men.
    it’s only because religion requires a person to keep “himself” away from sexual thoughts and friction as much as possible.
    you may agree or disagree on the argument whether a man is exposed to sexual thoughts while sitting next to a women more than he would be while not sitting there.
    but it’s certainly not the case of discriminating the women!
    if at all it’s much more discriminating against himself by not being allowed the “privilege” of sitting next to a women
    i don’t see in any way how this could be interpreted to discrimination.
    it’s certainly somewhat inconvenient for both of them, and believe me as a religious person it’s a hundred times more uncomfortable for the male than the female as he’s being accused for something that is totally not in his intentions!

  71. I was referred to a sentence claiming that religious people would refuse sitting next to a woman because of a stupid belief that she might be “dirty” or “unclean”…
    I feel it quite disturbing that people could really adapt such a weird idea that the religious person sitting next to him is so stupid….
    in fact the only reason a religious person would refuse sitting next to a women is because the “weakness” of men (when it comes to women……) and has absolutely nothing to do with any stupid belief or idea “against” women!!!

  72. let me ask you a stupid question

    if (God forbid) I’m a convicted serial rapist, and was suggested by my psycho-therapist to minimize as much as possible friction with people from the opposite sex.
    would anyone her disagree that by requesting to change seat I’m doing the right thing?
    an that my act is basically somewhat even more in favour of the women seated next to me than my own?

  73. @kq747
    What is your idea of bigotry? Is it anyone that holds a contrary position to you? If a country decides that drug usage is a crime but the west decide that drugs should be legalised, does that make the country bigots? If a country holds that homosexuality is wrong, but the west decide that this is sometihng that shold be embraced, does that make that country bigots? If a country believes in capital punishment as a punishment and the west abhor this method of punishment, does that make the country bigots?

    Do you honestly believe that 400 years ago America, the UK and all other such countries were populated mostly by bigots? If you do, you suffer from delusions of grandeur. The people living in those times were as good and well meaning as you are – probably far more so – they merely had different ideas of right and wrong, different priorities in what was important, and a different understanding of how society works. Were they wrong? Maybe. Could you be wrong? Maybe too.

    It is so easy to label anyone who thinks differently to you as intolerant. As I said, some people are happy to state that they are intolerant. Of course, it makes any criticism they have for anyone else rather meaningless. But those that shudder to think of themselves as intolerant merely resort to the subterfuge of claiming that in certain cases it is OK, no, commendable, to be intolerant.

    A country that penalises drug takers can be called intolerant to other peoples choices
    A country that disagrees with homosexuality can be called intolerant to other peoples choices
    A country that gives the death penalty can be called intolerant to its law breakers.
    A country that has strong laws regarding public display of unclothed skin can be called intolerant

    Anything that you disagree with can be construed as intolerance when performed by others. Yet in fact, it is simply a matter of different beliefs. The truth is, there are many things that we would hold in disdain today which may well be taken up in two or three generations times with great glee. There are still areas that have not become acceptable yet within the matter of peoples fulfilling their every desire. Bigamy, close relatives and other such matters which we would look upon in disgust may well become matters of people’s choice in a short time. We would then be looked at as bigots for our beliefs held today. Would that be a justified claim? Can we retrospectively look at the past generations who held on to values that they perceived as correct and castigate them for doing so?

    To state unequivocally that people who have a way of life (and this was my point with an ‘old’ religion) for thousands of years, who have succesfully lived those thousands of years with a track record of remaining, on the whole, a capable and thriving population that has not succumbed to the decay and disintergration that hundreds of others around it have. To state unequivocally that the relatively new found beliefs that society has today regarding what is right or wrong is superior – that is a display of sheer ignorance. It is also, again, intolerance.

    I am not saying that you should change your way of life to suit theirs. Nor is anyone asking that of you. They may believe that your way of life is abhorrent. They may possibly be right. But you live your life and they live theirs. You do what you think is right and so do they. That is called ‘tolerance’. To pretend that you cannot accept that because you disagree with it – that is the most uncomplicated form of intolerance you could display.

    With regards to the dynamics in Israel and the orthodox versus the non orthodox, this is of course a hugely complex matter. The state of Israel was intended as a homeland for the Jews and as such, the concept of who is a Jew and what Judaism means is a fierce ongoing struggle. As such it is incorrect to attempt to paint it in black and white sections as per who is the majority there currently. As you said yourself, when it comes to matters of right and wrong, it matters not whether it is a majority or not.

    And lastly, but as has already been stated here before, this matter was not in the slightest about anything that is remotely linked to intolerance. The laws that religious Jews adhere to mandate that men and women do not touch unless they are married or close relatives. This law applies equally to men and women. Are Jewish women therefore intolerant?

    Jews believe in the sanctity of family and that one does not ‘play around’ before marriage (or out of marriage). This is a very strong factor in Judaism, to the extent that when the greek king Antiochus wanted to conquer the Jews without warring, he forbade a few pivotal commandments, one of them being related to this matter of family sanctity. Have no doubt that Antiochus also brought very reasonable sounding rationale behind his choice of these decrees. This was an age of modernity after all and old fashioned nonsese was to be frowned upon. Yet the Jews overcame this challenge and celebrate its cessation every year ion chanuka for thousands of years aftrerwards.

    In a world where sanctity has become so violated and unbridled pleasure a virtue, the religious Jew is once again castigated for firmly holding on to such outdated principles. Today’s Hellenists pretend that it is the womens rights they are championing. But in essence it is nothing more than the latest wave of attacks on the Jews’ right to live his unchanging Laws, ones which apply equally to men and women, and yes there are plenty of instances where women have requested (not demanded as a right) that a prefferable seat is made available to them to accomadate their religious beliefs. But no-one really cares about that do they? Its much more enjoyable to pretend this is about an intolerant bigot who fancies that he is better than women.

    What happens on the buses in Israel is no different by the way. These buses do not run through Tel Aviv or other cities where the populace are irreligious. these are buses specifically serving untra orhodox communities, places where people have moved to set up homes in accordance with the laws given to the Jews – for which the State of Israel is supposedly for. Yet groups of bigots and intolerant people who cannot stand the thought that other people might actually believe and be happy practicing Judaism make great efforts to find ways to make it seem as though this is a demeaning practice forced on poor helpless women. They deliberately bring people from other towns and areas into the religious neighbourhoods to get on the buses and then cry foul when they encounter resistance to their efforts to upset the accepted and desired status quo there. You have people, men and women, who all share in an ideal of what is right and wrong, who willingly go along with it out of their own desire. There is no more intolerance of men for women as there is of women for men. It is only the troublemakers who come along and seek to portary matters in tha way. Are these really the champions of humanity? Or are they just intolerant predators looking to pursue an agenda.

  74. @Marcel Nowhere have I said that having a contrary point of view is equivalent to bigotry. In fact I encourage contrary points of view because every ideology must be subject to question and criticism. When I refer to bigotry, I am talking about the fundamental rights of human beings, and if we allow and deny rights based on people simply being who they are i.e. their gender, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, or race, then that is patently wrong. I do not necessarily castigate the peoples of history because mankind as whole was very different through the ages and people were not enlightened enough to see that their norm was wrong. But it is 2016 and WE do know better. If people want to live according to 2000+ year old norms then they can do it but they cannot infringe on the fundamental rights of people who don’t want to be ruled by some old text.

    So to address your hypos: There is no fundamental right to partake in drugs, there is no fundamental right to be nude in public. There is a fundamental right to free speech. There is fundamental right to have sexual privacy between consenting adults. There is a fundamental right to not be sent to the back of the bus (or plane) because of your gender. None of these rights are absolute by any means but when they are infringed upon without a compelling interest then we should not allow it to go on. There is no compelling interest in having gender segregation anymore than there was racial segregation. Israel is a secular country and therefore allowing religion to trounce the fundamental rights of people is abhorrent. If people would like to go live in a theocracy they should move to Saudi and see what its like to have religious law forced on you. And to answer your question, if a woman demanded that she cannot sit next to a man on a bus/train/plane and had the man move for no other reason than he was a man, she too would be equally guilty. I completely respect the right of hassids to live their lives according to their faith but not where it infringes on the fundamental rights of others. I don’t care how old their religion is, how happy they are in their religious bubble, what they’ve had to overcome; it is plainly irrelevant when it comes to infringing on fundamental rights. In the torah and the talmud, there are many rules on slavery and how to treat your jewish slaves better than the non-jewish ones etc, so if they wanted to have that in their society should we allow it? or even in their isolated rural community?

    To your last point about orthodox communities. If their jewish law was at odds with secular law, which law trumps? There are many reports of communities in the UK and France that are majority muslim and apparently self proclaimed “no go zones” where overly zealous muslims go around telling people that they cannot enter the area or have to comply with sharia law if they walk through (e.g. they cant have a bottle of wine from the supermarket). Is this idea acceptable to you?

  75. The Jewish thought police on here trying to twist themselves into a pretzel to justify this ridiculous behavior is just flat out astonishing.

    Now we are hearing from some that the Orthodox is actually being discriminated against….

    I am so over Israel, its antics and its double standard for everything. I know plenty of moderate Israeli citizens and Jews here in the US and NONE of them show the rigidity and right wing activism of Orthodox Jews and settlers. It is easy to forget that the majority of Israelis are inclusive and rational global citizens when one reads the discriminatory drivel here.

    What if Christians did not want to mingle with Jews. Should the US be allowed to expel/deport all Jews? Or if Muslims did not believe Jews and Muslims can coexist and therefore slaughter Jews, should Jews just accept that in the name of tolerance? Oh wait…Israel interns those people into large ghettos to protect their citizenry. So much for religious tolerance.

  76. @Donald

    No Jew has ever forced anyone to give up a seat because of his beliefs! (and I’m sorry but your comparison between being asked to change a seat for any reason to slaughtering people based on a religious belief is outrageous)
    The only thing a religious Jew would do is kindly asking if they would mind changing seats, and it’s totally up to the person to except or refuse!
    most people in the world are kind enough to do a minor thing such as changing a seat in respect of a fellow person’s believes. even if they do not share this belief or don’t understand it.
    It’s called “pragmatism”, have you ever heard that?

  77. @kq747, why is there a fundamental right to free speech and sexual privacy between consenting adults but not to partake in drugs or be nude in public? Surely, there must be a fundamental principle to determine what is a right and what isn’t? E.g., a principle of personal autonomy and non-interference would lead to a conclusion that people are free to any sexual acts between consenting adults, to consume drugs or not, and to wear or not what they please, but that any coercion is forbidden, which would include smoking only since it forces others to consume the drug.

  78. @Dov, it’s so easy to throw out the hater/antisemite label, isn’t it? The reality is that nothing could be farther from the truth in my case. I advocate for equal rights for all. I don’t care whether it is faith, gender, sexual orientation or for any other reason. In this case, I believe the rights of the female passenger were impinged on, so I advocate for that person. If a Muslim had asked not to sit next to a Jewish person, I would have advocated on behalf of the Jewish person. It’s really that simple.

    @chaim, what you are saying is simply untrue. Read one of the many threads on FT and elsewhere documenting the behavior of Orthodox Jews on planes, in some cases refusing to take their seats and delaying flights until the airline has no option but to rearrange seating to accommodate them. They didn’t “force” any pax to change their seats, but they sure forced the airline to make a commercial decision to do it for them.

    Secondly, the man in question could have easily gone to the FA and said “my religious beliefs do not allow me to sit next to a woman. Can you please reseat me next to a man?” But that isn’t what happened, is it? He went and asked the FA to seat the woman somewhere else. What does that say about him?

    On the issue of pragmatism, I have heard of it and practice it frequently. But it is rich that I get a lesson on pragmatism from you while you try to advocate for someone who is trying to avoid sitting next to a woman in today’s world where women are increasingly the equals of men (in the Western and developed world they absolutely are already) and where differences in gender, race, religion, etc are blurred more and more everyday.

  79. That’s kinda cool that you advocate rights for all, “except” where it does not comply with your Agenda or Beliefs

    Still a way to go!!!

  80. In all honesty who cares ? Why is it that if you don’t get your own way Litigous action is the Answer ?!? No wonder the US court system is clogged up…For 13,000USD in potential compensation whereby legal porceedings would be starting out 20,000USD to gather legs as it werefor goodness sake she was offered a New seat closer to thew pointy end..**Bang** Gavil down case disimissed and nothing to see here !!

  81. The gap between religious freedom and religious tyranny is getting closer by the day. It is obvious in a public transport vehicle e.g. a plane, there is a great chance you may be seated next to a person of the opposite sex. So an ultra religious person should know that this be a possibility. Therefore either has to accept that fact and pray through the duration of the journey or find a different transportation, recommended in the religious book of their following.

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