Women (and Men) of the World, Unite! How to Stand Up to Extremist Orthodox Jews Who Demand You Give Up Your Airline Seat

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In the last week, there have been two incidents of women relenting to pressure from airlines to give up their seats to accommodate Orthodox Jewish bigots who refused to be seated next to them. This should be as unacceptable as Klansmen asking blacks to change seats.

And let us stress that the ugliest feature of these events was that each airline, the first El Al, the second, Austrian Airlines, enabled the Orthodox Jews (specifically, Haredi) in their illegal demands. As we’ll explain, the airlines had the ability under the terms of their legal agreements (their passenger contracts of carriage) to do the the right thing, which was to insist that the bigots sit in their assigned seats or leave the plane, and if they didn’t, to have them hauled off by airport security guards.

The reason these episodes matter to men as well as women is that the underlying issue is the same as the one with the impermissible removal of Dr. Dao from a United Airlines flight, in which his man-handlers broke his nose and several teeth and gave him a concussion.

Like United, these airlines were pressuring passengers to give up seats for to preserve their revenues, when the passengers were completely within their legal rights to stay put.

And if you think my characterization of these Haredi is over the top, consider this quote from the Times of Israel:

Responding to the story on Twitter, Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid called for a severe response to such incidents.

“Once again a primitive group of Haredis moved and humiliated women on a flight,” he wrote. “If for once they’re removed from the flight without hesitation or recompense, this disgrace will end.”

“Primitive” is a useful framing. If these Haredi want to enjoy the conveniences of the modern world, they need to conform with its rules. If they don’t want to sit next to a woman, buy the next to them, or fly with a male buddy, or charter a plane.

The first episode occurred a week ago, when four Haredi on an El Al flight from New York to Tel Aviv refused to sit next to women. Here are the details from the Times of Israel:

“The crew tries to solve the problem. This doesn’t work. The female flight attendants clear space for the authoritative men on board… the ultra-Orthodox are not ready to speak with, or even look at the female flight attendants,” wrote [Khem] Rotem in a Facebook post Friday.

“All the men in the crew, except for the captain, are now only dealing with this instead of preparing for takeoff and serving the passengers. The ultra-Orthodox don’t blink. One of the crew members threatens: ‘If you don’t sit down, you can get off the plane right now,’” added Rotem.

However, the crew backed down and instead pressured women, two of whom apparently with difficulty gave up their seats (one pictures the bullies making it physically difficult in light of Rotem’s ““after a lot of writhing, shouts and maneuvering”), the plane took off 75 minutes late.

To their credit, other Orthodox men on the plane made clear they disapproved of the bigots:

Rotem noted that other yarmulke-clad men aboard expressed “surprise and revulsion” at the four ultra-Orthodox men’s conduct.

The worst of this case is that El Al already had a court judgement in Israel saying that asking women to give up seats was against the law. Per the Times of Israel:

Last year, the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court ruled that El Al cannot force women to change seats at the request of ultra-Orthodox men. The court agreed with Israel Religious Action Center, which brought the suit, in ruling the practice was illegal and discriminatory.

Was El Al relying on a forgiving interpretation of what “force” means, or that the incident took place in New York?

It took the threat of a boycott to get El Al to belatedly implement a policy to uphold women’s legal rights to their assigned seats. From The Insider:

On Monday, the CEO of a major Israeli tech company posted about this incident on LinkedIn and threatened to boycott El Al Airlines.

Barak Eilam, the CEO of NICE Systems, posted the link to an article about this incident from the Times of Israel on LinkedIn.

“At NICE we don’t do business with companies that discriminate against race, gender or religion,” Eilam wrote on the LinkedIn post. “NICE will not fly @EL AL Israel Airlines until they change their practice and actions discriminating women.” ….

On Monday, Gonen Usishkin, the CEO of El Al, said in a statement to the Associated Press that he had ordered that “any traveler who refuses to sit next to another traveler will be immediately removed from the flight.”

This is what should have happened in the first place.

As we explained at length in the Dr. Dao incident on United last year, when an elderly man was dragged from his seat and severely injured in the process so that United could seat four employees it wanted to transport to man another airplane, a passenger’s right to his seat, once seated, is extremely strong under airlines’ contracts of carriage, which is the governing agreement when you buy your ticket from them.

Mind you, the situation is completely different before you have boarded and taken your seat. Airlines can prevent passengers from boarding for all sort of reasons, so don’t make the mistake of thinking that the rules that apply once you have boarded and are sitting in your assigned seat apply in other contexts.1

However, given the Jerusalem Court ruling, accommodating bigots is not a “reasonable reason”. Moreover, a passenger refusing to sit is disruptive to a flight, and that is clear grounds for removal. This isn’t hard if you want to do the right thing….but that means giving up the revenues of the seats the bigots had intended to occupy.

Reader Kevin W sent us word of the latest episode, in which four women on an Austrian Airlines flight were cowed into changing seats. From Haaretz:

The pilot of an Austrian Airlines flight had to leave the cockpit and convince several women to change their seats after haredi Orthodox men refused to sit next to female passengers.

The Friday morning flight from Tel Aviv to Vienna left 40 minutes late and was delayed for another half hour in Austrian airspace after failing to miss the morning rush hour, Ynet reported.

The 26 haredi men had been scheduled to fly to Vienna on the Polish national airline LOT, but when that flight was cancelled moved to the Austrian Airlines flight.

Stewardesses on the flight reportedly tried to convince the men to take their assigned seats but those next to women refused. Eventually, the pilot came out and convinced several women to move their seats, Ynet reported.

Notice the language, “convince”. This is a tacit admission that the airline did not have the right to make the women give up their seats.2

Now admittedly this was a nastier situation than the El Al flight in New York. 26 passengers is close to an occupying army. But the flip side is they were not originally scheduled to be on this flight.

Hoever, the airline clearly favored revenues over doing the right thing (I blame this on the airline because first, the airplane is under the operational control of the airline until the cabin door closes; only then does the captain become the Decider; second, this went on so long and became so heated that it is a virtual certainly that the crew contacted the airline for instructions).

The airplane should have gone to the gate, deboarded everyone, and refused to reboard the Haradi. They might have had to get another plane to effect this, but if they emptied the plane with some crew members cycling in and out, it would have become intolerably hot plenty fast.

But doing the right thing is costly, particularly given how tightly equipment and crews are scheduled. So Austrian Airlines went the path of least resistance and pushed the women.

What Can You Do?

As Yair Lapid said, this sort of thing is going to continue until misbehaving Haradi are removed from flights. And the more airlines enable this sort of thing, the more it will occur. Note that both flights were delayed, so the airlines still incurred costs and some passengers probably missed connections.

So far, the incidents have occurred only on flights in and out of Tel Aviv, but given that only four men were able to get their way on the El Al flight out of New York, I would not dismiss the possibility of this sort of thing happening on other routes if more than one Haredi man was flying.

And more generally, as with the Dr. Dao affair, this is an object lesson on what to do if you have taken your assigned seat on a plane, have been behaving properly, and are asked to leave the plane (as with Dr. Dao) or give up your seat for a bad cause. Some suggestions:

1. Above all, do not raise your voice or lift your arms up. Do not give the airline the excuse to depict you as disruptive and therefore a safety threat.

2. If you have the presence of mind, turn on the audio recorder on your phone.

3. Tell them you reviewed their Contract of Carriage, you do not believe they have the right to ask you to give up your seat, but you are prepared to be persuaded if they will pull up their airline’s web page and show you the language they think applies.

4. If they want you to take a later flight, you could go the route of asking for compensation. Be sure to insist on cash, not flight vouchers.

5. If (as appears to have been the case on the El Al and Austrian Air flight) it becomes apparent that they are trying to persuade you, as opposed to threaten you, engage as little as you can. Repeat that you believe you have the right to your seat under their own contract. And then ignore them. Do your best to feign doing something else, like reading a newspaper. Perhaps you have a gift for getting into extended debates and staying cool, but moat people don’t. The most important thing is not to give the airline any grounds for depicting you as belligerent, and the simplest way to do that is to say as little as is humanely possible. If you feel you have to respond, keep it to the bare minimum, such as: “I’ve heard what you’ve said and I’ve already given you my answer. There isn’t anything more to say.”

6. If anyone near you seems sympathetic, when the crew members go away to confer, ask if they would be a witness and ask for their business card.

There will eventually be a case where some Haredi try this nonsense again and the airline calls security for them refusing to take their seats. I hope a crew member is alert enough to ask for any women security guards on duty to participate in the removal. The threat of being touched by women would put the Haredi in an untenable spot.

Update: From our Jerri-Lynn, via e-mail:

That happened to me once, on a NYC-London flight. Orthodox man demanded I give up an aisle seat. I refused – told him politely that if he couldn’t sit next to me, it was up to him to pre-book accordingly.

Flight attendant switched his seat.

There’s a coda.

I was polite, but firm – several passengers witnessed this interaction.

As I was getting ready to leave the ‘plane, I leaned forward. Good thing I did – because a bag came crashing out of the overhead bin and landed just where my head had been. If I hadn’t leaned forward, the bag would have broken my neck. No question.

Guess whose bag it was? I turned and looked into his eyes – he was terrified. And I could tell this was an accident.

But, if the bag had hit me, there’s no way he would ever have been able to convince anyone he hadn’t dropped it on me on purpose.

1 Now in fact El Al, unlike US airlines, has more sweeping and vague language about its authority to “reassign” seats:

We reserve the right to assign or reassign seats at any time, even after boarding of the aircraft. This may be necessary for operational, safety, security or other reasonable reasons.

2 The form of the Austrian Airlines “General Conditions of Carriage” is much closer to the US practice of enumerating specific grounds for removal. I did not find any language contemplating re-assigning seats of passengers who had boarded and were in their assigned seat, aside from broad rights regarding safety.

The Haredi passsengers, in refusing even to interact with the female members of the flight crew, could have been removed on that basis alone

We may also refuse to carry you or your Baggage if one of the following has occurred or we have well-founded reasons to believe it will occur:

7.1.1. Provided this action is necessary to comply with national or international regulations; or
7.1.2. Your carriage or that of your Baggage may jeopardise or threaten the security, health or the comfort of Passengers or crew; or
7.1.3. Your mental or physical condition, including your impairment from alcohol or drugs, presents a hazard or risk to yourself, other Passengers, the crew or to property; or
7.1.4. You have committed misconduct on an earlier flight, and we have reason to believe that such conduct may be repeated or
7.1.5. You have refused to submit to a security check; or
7.1.6. You have not paid the applicable fare taxes, fees or charges; or
7.1.7. You do not appear to have valid travel documents, or you may seek to enter a country which you are only entitled to transit or for which you do not have valid travel documents, you have destroyed your documents during the flight, or you refuse to surrender them to the flight crew – against receipt – when so requested; or
7.1.8. You present a Ticket that has been acquired unlawfully either to us or our Authorised Agents which has been reported as lost or stolen; or you cannot prove that you are the person named in the Ticket; or
7.1.9. You have failed to comply with the requirements set out in Article 3.3 above, concerning Flight Coupon sequence and use, or you present a Ticket that has been altered in any way, other than by us or our Authorised Agent or
7.1.10. You fail to observe our instructions with respect to safety and security and warning signs or other instructions.

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  1. Geo

    Very well written article. Even the typos read as artifacts of the frustration you felt toward the extremists and empathy for these women.

    I have been on two flights in the past decade where this happened. One time the women moved without much issues. The other time it was a coworker they tried to make switch seats but she refused. The two extremists seated next to her didn’t give up their seats when she asked them to and it made for an uncomfortable flight for her having to sit next to two hostile bigots. I was seated many rows back but saw the whole thing.

    After we landed and I met her in the terminal I made sure she knew I was proud she stood strong. She joked that if it ever happened again she would tell them she was having “her monthly blood flow” and then she would have all three seats to herself. I thought that was a great idea!

    These primitive patriarchal lunatics need to drop their delusions of mythical superiority. That they get pleasure from their dominance over women makes their religious delusions something to be condemned just as any other bigoted ideology should be. And the airlines should be shamed for encouraging the bigotry. Imagine if they made someone move seats due to a racist not wanting to sit next to someone with darker skin? This should not be any different just because of these men’s religion.

    1. vlade

      “These primitive patriarchal lunatics need to drop their delusions of mythical superiority”

      Unfortunately, given they are lunatics, they will drop them when they are dead.

      TBH, another reason why this should get more press is that if a Muslim behaved in a similar way, can you see how that would work, and what sort of furore that would raise?

      All religions have their idiots, bigots and fanatics, and we should really treat all of them the same.

      1. ambrit

        You mean like do an MKULTRA on them? Good idea. Chemtrails inside an airplane! Absurdism in the defense of rationality….

      2. Wukchumni

        When I flew to New Zealand in the early 1980’s, upon arrival in Auckland, a couple of NZ Ag officials would come on board, each equipped with 2 spray cans of who knows what held up high, and they’d walk down the aisles of the 747 letting loose with something somewhat toxic, i’d guess.

        I wonder when they stopped doing it?

        1. hidflect

          They did it on arrival of a flight to Perth I was on and the guy at the back of the plane died of a heart attack where the attendants easily sprayed the most. That was back in ’82.

  2. none

    In the Dr Dao incident they made him give up his seat and get off the plane, missing his flight and messing up his work commitments so they could give the seat to someone else who they thought was more important. That’s qualitatively different than asking him to move from one seat to another on the same flight. Is that what we’re talking about here, i.e. just changing seats on the same plane?

    If yes, I don’t see what the big deal is, if no major hassle or inconvenience is involved in changing seats. I don’t mind the idea of changing seats to accomodate someone’s weird religion or (more usually) their desire to sit next to their buddy/spouse/colleague when their assigned seats were separated for some reason (I’ve done that a few times). At most I might expect to be “pressured” by the airline in the form of a few sweeteners like a discount voucher or some free drinks, which I’d accept.

    Best of all would be moving me to the first class or other premium section if there is one (maybe they could make the Haredi pay for it, like Trump and the wall). Giving up a crappy seat to get a nicer one is not really a concession on my part. Maybe I’m showing some ignorance through privilege but this seems like a yawner.

    1. Clive

      I really have to object to this on the basis on normalising unacceptable behaviour.

      I can ask you to move seats for whatever reason I make up. But when it comes to my demanding and, worse, dragooning the flight attendants into delivering my demands, that is something else again.

      Now, I do accept a suggestion that if I’m asked (although “told” is probably a more accurate wording) to move and then I say sure, if you move me from economy to first, I’ll do it (plus any others I am traveling with), and that then becomes the accepted trade-off for this situation, I’d probably go for that. It would take no time at all for airlines to start to appreciate just how much the pandering to this- or that- special whah-whah’ing was costing them. So this problem would be self-resolving. But even then, the principle still would smell a bit and it’d be easy to see how we’d all be right back at square one on a full flight where all first or business seats had been sold.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      No, the issue is exactly the same. You have very strong legal rights to your assigned airline seat once you are in it. The case of Dr. Dao and these women are identical from a legal perspective. It is stunning that you refuse to get that.

      And you also misrepresented what the post said about the United Airlines abuse of Dr. Dao. It was not that the airline deemed the other passengers to be more important, as if they were super elite or celebrities. They were crew that were being shuttled on a last minute basis to another flight. As readers like Jerry Denim, who was an airline pilot, explained, this was an inexcusable operations screw-up. Not only should crew not have needed to be moved around that way, but it should never have happened that they just showed up and the gate personnel had no idea they were coming. Had this been handled properly, the gate staff would have sorted this out before the plane boarded by offering incentives to get passengers to give up their seats.

      So the cases are also similar in that the mistreatment of the seated passengers resulted from the airlines putting their revenues ahead of their legal commitments.

      Your comment makes clear that you think it’s fine for white people to demand that blacks (or Chinese, or Hispanics, or Indians. or whatever group they want to piss on this week) sit in the back of the bus. That’s the sort of behavior you are supporting.

      Most readers will assume you must be a white man. Members of out groups would deem your perspective to be unacceptable. Women, blacks, and other minorities have fought too hard for a pale semblance of equal rights to put up with crap like this. Women are already subject to tons of petty indignities, like being interrupted casually by men, by being expected to do emotional labor in the form of smiling and being pleasant. No wonder depression rates are higher among women than men.

      I don’t have to give up my seat to make a bigot more comfortable. He can stew in his prejudice or take another flight.

      1. markodochartaigh

        Living in a very red part of Texas most of my life I have had to accommodate people who did not want to sit next to, talk with, be taken care of (I’m an RN), or have any interaction with a gay man. Most of the time there was no option other than to lower my head and quietly submit. But this only empowers hate. Thankfully in much of the country we have moved on from hate, although not as far as many of us had hoped. If we enable backsliding it seems now that we enable an avalanche.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I’m sorry you had to suffer that. Being gay outside big American cities is still not easy, but at least more people are willing to stand with gay men and women against bigots and bullies.

    3. vlade

      I’d not really compare “can I ask you to move so that I can sit with my family” to “Move out, unclean one!”.

      The first respects me, and is asking me for something that would be most likely reciprocated. The second makes clear I’m inferior to them, and no request of mine would be ever complied with.

      1. jsn

        Yes! The issue is the power relationship. I switched seats on a flight Friday so a couple could sit together. It was my choice to help. To be asked to move from an assigned seat for someones else’s prejudice is an insult, to be told to move from it is a profound abuse of power.

      2. rd

        I frequently volunteer to move to allow couples, families, etc. to sit together, especially if there is an equivalent sea available. Helping people to sit together enables positive relationships which is completely different than moving because somebody does not want to sit next to you. The flight attendants usually notice and appreciate it as well which is very different from having an unpleasant scene.

    4. fajensen

      I don’t mind the idea of changing seats to accomodate someone’s weird religion or (more usually) their desire to sit next to their buddy/spouse/colleague when their assigned seats were separated for some reason

      I very much mind the first reason. The second is a human request and I normally don’t mind – especially if I get bumped to business class for it, which has happened before.

      In my “Moral map o’ The World” I tend to judge things as “good” or “bad” according to the degrees of “Life Furthering” / “Life Destroying” embedded in them. Giving any space for religious bigots is a big deal for me.

      Religious bigots of all stripes wants to restrict all human life, and especially that of women – who happens to be the nurturers of new life in the form of humans – to fit into some very limited and very restricted channels controlled by them (of course) which I find appalling, offensive, something clearly created not by any God, but by human borderline necrophile/sadist characters (or demons, if one believes in them) that really should never be accommodated in any way or form. Because these people will never stop at just one thing!

      I’d be most happy to take the “Dr Dao”-treatment just to not give in to those creepers, of course I won’t mind paying my mortgage off with the compensation after the fracas.

      1. Gregory Rubinstein

        As far as I know, this kind of request by an orthodox Jew is related to modesty, not some kind of feeling of being superior. According to Jewish Law, a Jewish man should not touch any woman that’s not his wife. I have no idea where you got the idea of superiority or bigotry. Seems like you are just pouring dirt on decent people.

        1. Stephen Gardner

          Really? You don’t think the haredi refusal to even speak to the female crew members gave his attitude toward women away? I wish people would stop making excuses for behavior that is unacceptable in the 21st century just because it has its origin in religion. These men were bigots and should not be allowed to force their primitive ideas on others. And there is no exception for that.

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          They have no right to expect anyone else to cater to their concepts of modesty. This post does not pour dirt on decent people. It pours decency on dirt people.

        3. JerryDenim

          B.S. Explain the refusal to acknowledge only the female flight attendants then? I’ve dealt with a good number of ultra-orthodox over the years and they are definite misogynists. In my experience they are quite racist too. I have no problem with Jewish people or the Jewish faith. My Jewish friends who live in Israel feel the same way about the ultra-orthodox. They have a very long list of gripes about their behavior and none of it relates to modesty.

        4. 4Corners

          Right. It’s like all the other favors men grant women under the guise of modesty. Like the burqa. It’s really for their own good! It’s rationalization like this that makes you part of the problem.

        5. Yves Smith Post author

          Oh, come on. Let’s start with the fact that the Orthodox abhor the idea of a female rabbi. If this were merely about separation, the Haredi would have female rabbis to instruct women.

          More tidbits:

          The orthodox Jewish community lives by Jewish law, which has traditionally created a number of disabilities for Jewish women. This may be seen in the wedding ceremony, in which the husband places a ring on the finger of the bride or gives her a coin saying: “You are sanctified to me by this ring according to the Laws of Moses and Israel.” The bride makes no such pronouncement in traditional Jewish law but is passive throughout the ceremony. A second example of the disabilities placed on Jewish women by traditional Jewish law is the status of “agunah”. An “agunah” is a woman deserted but not divorced from her husband. According to Jewish law, only men can get a divorce. However, later practice has altered this position, so that divorce requires the consent of both parties Therefore neither woman nor man can get a divorce if deserted and therefore cannot marry again. It is true that a man deserted by his wife would be in the same position and could not remarry. Nevertheless, this law usually operated against the interests of women, who were far more often deserted by husbands than vice versa. Furthermore, Jewish law allows a husband to force a divorce upon his wife. A woman cannot force a man to give her a divorce.

          Traditionally, at the death of a husband, the wife does not become the guardian of her children. Instead, a rabbinic court can appoint a man to be the children’s guardian. Also, at the death of a husband, Jewish law does not consider the wife the legal heir, although at the death of a wife, the husband inherits all of her property. Daughters cannot inherit the property of their deceased fathers because only sons inherit such property.

          Jewish law provides that a man can divorce a wife who has become insane. A wife, however, cannot divorce a husband by reason of insanity. There are numerous other disabilities imposed on women by Jewish law.


    5. marieann

      I don’t fly very often, when I do a want an aisle seat and to be sure I get it I pay the extra money when I book the flight.
      So no matter who or what asks me to change I will not, unless I get another aisle seat.I would probably feel bad if it was a couple who could not sit together.

      I solve my aisle seat problem by thinking ahead….not my problem if other people don’t

    6. Jim A.

      It’s one thing to ask. Politely. Once. But there is no basis to command or harangue anybody to move. Keep in mind, that under ElAl’s strict rules, deboarding somebody that refuses to sit in their assigned seat would require removing their luggage. Which would require emptying out all checked and unchecked luggage. Otherwise a terrorist could sneak a bomb on board and then use this as an excuse to get kicked off the plane.

    7. Ford Prefect

      Segregation by race, gender, or religion in the EU and North America is generally illegal and should not be tolerated. Most of these countries have gotten to this position by finally locking in legal protections against actions that were considered socially normal a half-century or century ago, in some cases resulting in unspeakable atrocities. So I support accommodations for the disabled but beyond that you should be getting the seat you paid for and selected, subject to the usual carriage laws.

      I view El Al in Israel as a slightly different thing where the country itself was developed as an outcome of religious and ethnic intolerance against many of its inhabitants, so they are not necessarily acting under the same constitutional and legal frameworks as the EU and North America. However, if they are going to make it airline policy to accommodate these religious viewpoints, then I suggest they make it simple. Many people check a box when booking to indicate a vegetarian or other meal preference. El Al could provide a box that people could check if they are an antediluvian orthodox bigot so the airline can put them together and not seat them with women. It would be up to El Al’s seating algorithms to figure out how to do that efficiently and may require El Al to leave seats open. If they don’t check the box, then they are indicating they are open to sitting next to anyone.

      Similarly, I have not understood the uproar about hijabs. We have had centuries of nuns running around in habits with their hair covered, along with Amish, Orthodox Jews, etc. Muslim women covering their hair should not be a crisis requiring any restrictions and they should be free to dress as they please. I do understand the need to consider full-body burkhas as potential security threats in certain venues requiring specific measures, but I would consider the same need for Halloween or Mardi Gras costumes.

      1. DJG

        Ford Prefect: I agree in general, but the nuns = hijab is a false equivalence. Nuns take vows to live within a specific community with a specific religious rule, the rule of their religious order. For the most part, nuns also were attached to a specific house or monastery. There are still cloistered nuns. So the hijab, which is worn “secularly,” isn’t the same as a nun’s habit. There are no twelve-year-old nuns.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          It used to be considered proper for men to wear hats pretty much all the time. The McKinsey office in LA was the last to give it up

          1. Wukchumni

            JFK is often given as the reason that men went hatless in the 60’s, but i’d give more credit to air conditioning.

          2. Big River Bandido

            It used to be considered proper for men to wear hats pretty much all the time

            EXCEPT when you walked inside a building. Etiquette demanded that a man remove his hat when he entered a building. Nowadays, men never remove their hats indoors. For that matter, the only “hats” most men wear now are baseball caps, which hardly count as hats…

            1. Wukchumni

              In the most excellent book “Class” by Paul Fussell, he would mentally deduct 15 IQ points from any baseball cap wearer that wore said headgear backwards, unless it was a catcher playing on the field, of course.

      2. Oregoncharles

        The bank asks you to remove hats or hoods in the lobby, for obvious security reasons. I wonder what they do about a hijab (not much of a disguise, of course), let alone a veil. There are burka’ed women around; maybe they just don’t go to the bank.

    8. Oregoncharles

      Motive matters, and so does attitude. Moving so a family can sit together, especially a child, is just kindness. And it would be a polite ask, not a demand. I’ve known people to do that, or even offer.

      Part of the problem here is the Haredis’ motive, which is outright bigotry. I would agree that if the airline wants you to move, they should compensate you somehow. It can be quite a nuisance. If it’s just the crew asking you to move in return for a sweetener, that’s a different matter. If they’re smart, they wouldn’t mention the reason. Of course, getting off the plane is a bigger deal, requiring a much bigger sweetener.

      Are these Haredis just stupid, or are they on some sort of campaign? I guess I understand if their flight is canceled, but why would they book a reservation with a 50/50 chance of an unacceptable (to them) seating companion? That looks like deliberately setting up a conflict. It looks like they’re challenging that Israeli court case. Another good reason not to back down.

    9. JerryDenim

      Your go-along, get-along, accommodationist attitude can make the world a nicer and more chill place in many circumstances but in instances like this where you’re dealing with a prejudiced, ideological extremist, I’m afraid Yves is right. It’s the slippery slope and Neville Chamberlain. These ultra-orthodox, misogynist bullies have a much broader agenda. Today it’s no seats beside females, and no acknowledgement of female flight attendants ( illegal by FAA policy by the way) and tomorrow it will be no female flight crew on board followed by no females period. Then they will attempt to start pushing other ultra religious restrictions on the airline. Kosher menu items for all onboard, special dress codes. Then it’s no religions or other ethnicities they find offensive. These jerks belong in the dark ages or on their own private ultra-orthodox desert island. If they have a problem with women they can take a specially chartered steamship or a horse drawn carriage to where they want to go. If you enjoy living in a secular cosmopolitan society you are going to have to start fighting for it during these little culture war skirmishes. There is growing number of people that want to see a bigoted, patriarchal order of anti-science theocrats setting the rules for western society. Accommodating them emboldens them and helps them achieve their goals.

      1. fajensen

        These jerks belong in the dark ages or on their own private ultra-orthodox desert island.

        Well, if no-one impure paid their wellfare and did all the work on said island-of-purity they indeed would be in the dark ages, the complete immersion experience, with dying from preventable diseases and all.

        The galling part is that these types don’t mind taking the haram money and services given to them from the society they hate so much!? Leeching of the states ressources and taxes paid by women and usury frees up so much more time for bigoting! Idle hands and all that!!

        One may disagree with The Amish, but, they do take care of themselves in the way they decided was the proper one and they don’t bother other people with their ideas (that I know of). If more fanatics were like them, life in general would be a lot better.

  3. Clive

    And lest anyone chime in and try to say that this is symptomatic of some incipient anti-Jewish prejudice hidden under an ulterior motive, the European Court of Human Rights made a tangentially related ruling in a case which pitted Islamic traditions and culture against an educational objective.

    As with the airline seating issue, the courts were asked to consider a religious freedom to worship or freedom to practice question against a set of cost, complexity and wellbeing of others counter-arguments. The ECHR, in a thoughtful judgement, ruled that religious adherence doesn’t give one the right to impede others and that, to put it in plainer English, societal cohesion is a thing and where any individuals religious requirements start to impinge on those who don’t share the same beliefs or even merely impose costs or additional obligations on the rest of society, that is a big ask and difficult to justify.

    So this post is slap-bang in alignment with internationally accepted norms for what is permissible and what isn’t on the grounds of religious adherence.

    I can’t recall if orthodox seating demands have ever come before the ECHR, but if they did get that far, the court would almost certainly deem them to not be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim (both legs of this stipulation would need to be satisfied). If it were to happen in an EU airport I suspect it would fall under the ECHR’s jurisdiction, even if the airline wasn’t owned by an EU-registered company. If you did find yourself coerced to move seats and wanted to sue for compensation, I think there’s a a reasonably good chance a human rights lawyer would take your case pro bono, just to get their name in lights.

    1. Ignacio

      Well said. Let’s add that bigots like those depicted above migth belong to any religion, migth be agnostic or atheists but they all come to be just bigots and I don’t think bigotry is a recognised human rigth. On the other hand El Al was violating art.2: NO DISTINCTION SHOULD BE MADE on SEX, COLOUR, RELIGION etc.

      1. jsn

        Unfortunately being an @@@hole is an inalienable human right: who amongst us hasn’t qualified at least once?

        Rights only extend to their infringement on others though, so being an @@@hole doesn’t qualify anyone for special protections.

    1. Big River Bandido

      This was apparently based on a real incident on an American carrier (don’t remember which one).

    2. JerryDenim

      Great PSA! Much better response than the Captain of the Austrian Airlines flight that sided with the Ultra-orthodox over the female passengers. That Captain was either a spineless coward or a reprehensible sexist. Either way their actions were disgraceful.

  4. The Rev Kev

    No worries – already on the case. If these Haredi men do not want to acknowledge 50% of the population of the planet, then after a bit of research, I have found the ideal solution for them.

    This story is just the tip of an iceberg as it is not only about women being pushed out of their airline seats. To put it into context, this is just the spillover effect of an internal Israeli problem. People talk about Iran’s mad mullahs but they have nothing on some of the stuff that Ultra-Orthodox try and pull off in Israel. Because of their extremist beliefs you see things like women being edited out of photographs, even official photographs. An example is at https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/ultra-orthodox-israeli-press-edits-out-female-lawmakers-photograph-n362571 where women lawmakers were edited out of official Cabinet photographs and it has been know to blur out the faces of women in photos from the liberation of Auschwitz. A more recent example was where Merkel was edited out of a photo of world leaders arm-in-arm after the Charlie Hebdo attacks.

    But wait, there’s more. Women are ‘encouraged’ to board buses from rear doors and to sit in the back of buses. Where is Rosa Parks when you need her? Buses have been violently attacked by Haredi men with hammers when this does not happen. There has even been pressure to push women out of the Israeli Army and back into the home by the Haredi. Women who go to the Wailing Wall have been spat on, insulted and had things thrown at them. In essence, this is 11% of the population of Israel demanding that the other 89% obey their rules and now we are seeing this arise on international flights. Personally, if they do not want to sit next to women, I have no problem with that. They are quite welcome to go sit on one of the wings.

  5. everydayjoe

    Religion sucks. And to think this crap exists in so called developed countries makes it so much harder to digest.

    1. Ignacio

      You should avoid such a broad generalization. I know people that, not being religious, also suck.
      Disclaimer: I am atheist.

      1. Expat

        Can you kindly justify why religion does not suck? I cannot see from history or present society that religion does not suck.

        1. Ignacio

          This requires too long of an answer, but I will try to make it simple:

          For any single person being or not being religious is not a safe indicator of what kind of person is she. End of argument.

          1. Expat

            That is not an argument for or against religion; that is an argument about people. I can’t see any reason why religion is better than atheism. In fact, I am convinced it is worse.

            So, basically it is better for people to part of an extremist religion like Catholicism or Thuggee cult rather than atheist?

              1. Expat

                Why not? Are you suggesting that Buddhists are peace-loving people who never commit violence? Like Vietnam, Japan, Lao, Cambodia, China, Korea?
                Atheists might kill for some reason, but I have never heard of one killing in the name of atheism. That is an act reserved for believers.

                1. Tinky

                  And which group, do you imagine, has been historically responsible for causing more unnecessary pain, suffering and deaths?

                  That’s a rhetorical question.

                  Atheists who kill, maim and terrorize innocent people have plenty of beliefs from which to construct rationalizations.

                  1. Yves Smith Post author

                    Straw man. Atheists do not kill in the name of their atheism. I shouldn’t have to remind you how many wars have been and are now based on religion.

                    1. vlade

                      Atheists certainly did kill religious people because they were religious (as in communist regimes especially in 1950s killed a fair number of priests – because they were priests, and the religion was seen as enemy subverting the regime just by being).

                      But even if we would accept this at a stretch, the number of so killed people would pale with the number of people other religions killed in process of “conversion” during the history.

                    2. Yves Smith Post author

                      No, a regime killed the leaders of an opposed power center. If the Communists had killed all Catholics, you might have a point, but they didn’t.

                    3. Tinky

                      Straw man? Atheists killing in the name of nationalism, to use an obvious example, is not relevant?

                      Also, do you consider America’s war in Iraq, and its many analogues, to have been religious wars?

                  2. vlade

                    Almost certainly religious people, since up till early 20th century being atheist wasn’t really an option round most of the world. You could argue that Soviet Union managed to catch up with the religion a lot though.

                    1. Expat

                      Opinion polls in the US consistently show that Americans would elect a Jew, a black, a woman, a Catholic, etc, but would not elect an atheist.
                      I gotta laugh. So Nixon, LBJ, Bush, and Trump are all good Christians. How did that work out? Nixon was an arch-criminal and mass murderer. LBJ and Bush were mass murderers and war criminals. Trump is simply a horror (we’ll see what Cohen has to say…perhaps Trump will finish his term in prison?)

                  3. Expat

                    The question was not whether or not atheists kill for their religion which was what the accusation was. Atheists don’t kill in the name of atheism. There are certainly plenty of atheists who have killed for other reasons, but I would bet my fortune that the number of people killed by believers outnumbers those killed by atheists by 1000 to 1.

                    Furthermore, what kind of an argument is this anyway? Christians typically claim that without Jesus men are immoral and murderous. So you are saying that religion, in fact, does nothing at all to improve man. He simply kills and causes suffering for an imaginary supreme being.

                    Personally, I am a Pastafarian. Right now I would kill for gnocchi in gorgonzola sauce!

                    1. Tinky

                      I’m not defending extremists, or true “believers” . But they are, at least today, a rather small percentage of those who identify as being connected to a particular religion.

              2. Plenue

                A fundamentally narcissistic philosophy focused on achieving personal enlightenment to escape a a wheel of reincarnation and mortal suffering. Never forget, Gautama literally abandoned his wife and child to go off and seek transcendence. Buddhism is not the end-all be-all of beneficial knowledge it’s often seen as.

        2. Thuto

          Extremist-everything sucks, from religious extremists threatening “unbelievers” with “eternal damnation if they don’t repent” to extremist atheism worshipping at the altar of science and branding anyone with theistic inclinations “deluded and superstitious”.

          1. Expat

            That is a overly facile simile. Equating atheism and religion is a false argument. It is an argument employed by theists who use it without realizing that they are denigrating belief itself! Essentially, it says, “Atheism is a belief which is wrong. Belief is wrong. But theism is right because I believe.”

            Atheists don’t “worship” at any altar. And why shouldn’t someone who believes in a fantasy be branded delusional and superstitious. It seems to me that most religions and believers brand anyone who is not in their cult as wrong, superstitious and delusional.

            To paraphrase hitchens, we are all atheists. You have killed off all your Gods but one while I have finished the job.

            1. Wukchumni

              Atheists are often lumped in as the most hated ‘religious’ group which is a bit odd, as they don’t do dogma.

              The reason I suspect is that the evangs would dominate the standings if the infidels weren’t included.

              1. The Rev Kev

                You got a point there about atheists being hated. I remember reading about soldiers who were self-professed atheists refusing to partake in mandatory religious rites in Iraq. One of these guys was told by a superior that he was hated more than the Iraqi resistance fighters because at least they believed in a god.

            2. Thuto

              Your discipleship of hitchens clearly had your trigger finger twitching to deride anyone who dared mention theism. Never mind that you mischaracterized and took out of context a simple post to set the stage for your deep dive into the impassioned critique of religion, displaying the very sort of fanaticism you claim to rail against. Let me simplify it for you, hopefully to disarm you of the need to extol the virtues of atheism to someone who really isn’t interested (read me): for anyone who wasn’t keen on going beyond its scope to make their point, my post simply meant that in matters of faith (or lack thereof), its preferable for one to keep their own counsel, as in live and let live. This applies to theists and atheists alike. In closing, I personally know atheists who “worship” at the alter of science (post graduate level studies in science and engineering endow a certain level of proficiency in identifying them), you, if you’re and atheist, may not, but making sweeping statements like “atheists don’t worship at any altar” is generalizing outside your own experience and personal experience, like anecdote, is not the plural of data.

              1. Expat

                No, you are missing the point and attempting to taint atheists with belief in the religious sense. Simply because you say that atheist worship science does not make it true in the sense you are trying to get across. You are implying that some atheists bow down to science and do not question it.

                You have misunderstood or intentionally misrepresented atheism and science. The point of both is to doubt. Science is about questionning and challenging all assumptions. Religion is about questionning only God’s motivations which are conveniently beyond our ken.

                If an atheist truly worships something as you say, then he is no longer an atheist, is he?

                I have no issue with personal belief since there is almost no way to convince someone that their religious belief is nonsense. So be it. But if it is personal, then there should be no proselytizing whatsoever. That includes the brainwashing of children, advertising, or speaking in public. If that were the rule, I would happily let religion and belief in peace.

                You call me a fanatic. Yes, I am a strong anti-theist. But this is not a belief. It is simply my logical approach to life; religion explains nothing and offers nothing. On the other hand, it imprisons and tortures its adherents with threats and punishments in this world and the next. I don’t see where the theory of gravitation, the theory of relativity or quantum chromodynamic are ever used to threaten the eternal soul of a six year old child.

                1. Expat

                  I’ll drop this now since we are obviously at loggerheads. We’ll end up insulting each other even more.
                  You can have the last word if you like; I am not a fanatic about that. So feel free to let loose as I turn my final cheek.

                  1. Thuto

                    Yes let’s drop this, great suggestion, especially if you’re going to keep on telling me what i’m trying to say/get across and getting it wrong every time.

              2. The Pale Scot

                “atheists who “worship” at the alter of science” = individuals that are dispassionately cognizant of reality

            3. Plenue

              Atheism by definition isn’t a religion. But there certainly is a type of aggressive, often downright evangelical atheist who has adopted many of the worst aspects of religion. They aren’t hard to find on the internet. They reference and quote figures like Htichens and Dawkins as if they were saints, and worship at the alter of ‘rationality’. They often have significant crossover with the crowd that’s always whining about ‘SJWs’ and are usually utterly uncritical on issues like Western imperialism.

              1. drumlin woodchuckles

                Atheism is indeed a religion. It is the faith that there is no god or gods or nature spirits or any such thing.

                Hitchens and Dawkins and such are indeed religious figures. They are militant Atheist Fundamentalist missionaries.

                1. Plenue

                  No, it isn’t. By definition atheism is the lack of belief. If you break the word down that’s literally what it means.

                  There are people who are atheist as well as something additional, such as actively believing there isn’t a god, which is what you’re referring to. That doesn’t change the basic definition of atheism however.

                2. Expat

                  You can play with words all you want, but it does not change reality. Atheist don’t believe. They have no need to posit the existence of supernatural forces. You are implying that it requires a leap of faith to believe that some unseen, unproven thing does not exist.

                  This is simply bad faith arguing. You are applying your own belief in belief to someone else’s point of view. Since you apparently believe yourself (based on your aggressive tone), you attack atheists using your own point of view.

                  Atheist do not believe in the sense you do. That does not mean that atheists don’t have the right to use the words believe or belief in the casual sense. But if I say, “I believe there is still a cookie left and I will eat it,” that does not make me a Believer.

                  Playing with vocabulary in this way, tossing words like “militant” and “fundamentalist” into the conversation, and altering atheists’s own views does not win the argument. Atheists see no need to invent gods. That is what we believe. Now, if you want to twist our “belief” into your own frame of reference, have fun, but you have no right to tell us what we think or believe.

                  1. The Pale Scot

                    That the religious despise atheists more than other dogmatically opposed religions just means that they fear people who are not susceptible to their delusions

                  2. Wukchumni

                    We of Czech heritage don’t really believe in a higher power, one of the least religious countries in the world.

                    For me, other people’s religions are tantamount to different bowling leagues that a good many attend each week, and it seems to do them some good, but I don’t hurl.

      2. Plenue

        The Haredi would say they’re just literally following the precepts of their religion. Absolutely there are plenty of good and very religious people, but something I’ve noticed time and again is that the better they are, the less strictly and literally they take their religious doctrine. To jump straight to the most extreme example currently on the planet, I know it’s a cliche to talk about the ‘so-called’ Islamic State, but when ISIS throws gay people off of buildings, they aren’t just making up that requirement of a death penalty out of whole cloth.

        I used to outright dismiss and condemn religion. Then I had a period where I tried to be more generous and treat it with more nuance. “Oh, it’s a complex cultural artifact and even if it isn’t literally true it can impart worthwhile moral lessons and is a reflection of the human condition blah blah blah.” But over time the constant bombardment of raging absurdities chipped away at my tolerance, and now I’m right to back to wanting to just shove the whole stupid apparatus off a cliff. Your god doesn’t exist. And even if it does, it doesn’t care what you do with your genitals. Grow up and face reality.

    2. fajensen

      The phenomenon of intolerant people imposing onto others exists outside of religion.

      1. bronco

        Homeowners association people are worse than ultra orthodox jews or muslims. They would be okay with you being gay for instance , but if you painted your front door purple , or your cat walked across the hood of their car they would set up a guillotine in your front yard.

        1. HotFlash

          LMFAO!!! If we have such things in Canada, I have never heard of them. But I hear about American HOA’s all the time — and yeah, ‘land of the free’ indeed. How and why do you put up with them?

        2. fajensen

          Heh – :)

          I deal a lot with “academia”. I have observed from a safe distance that the smaller the actual stakes for the players involved in some dispute are, the exponentially more ferocious and vindictive the battle over them will be!

    3. Michael Fiorillo

      As someone who had Jesus as a cell mate in a religious elementary school, and acknowledges the many historical crimes committed in the name of religion, I have no particular desire to defend it.

      That said, I’ve met many, many atheists who were as closed minded and ignorant as the believers they mocked, and who had dogmatic views about science and reason.

      As for the benefits provided by religion, at least in Europe that would be hospitals and universities.

      1. Comradefrana

        “As for the benefits provided by religion, at least in Europe that would be hospitals and universities.”

        I wouldn’t know about that. Turning over vital public (and publicly funded) infrastructure over to particular religious interests is not self-evidently beneficial.

        1. Stephanie

          I agree with your point, but I believe Michael Fiorillo’s was that the hospitals and universities were originally created by the church, and only many centuries later were made public institutions.

  6. David

    The only vaguely comparable case I can think of happened in the UK about twenty years ago, when a (Saudi) woman passenger on BA made such a fuss about being forced to sit next to a man who was not her husband that she was eventually ejected from the flight. She claimed that Islamic law, as she understood it, dictated that she behave that way and demanded to be re-seated next to a woman. The case was on the front pages for a day or two.
    The problem is that liberal societies are ill-equipped to deal with this sort of problem. Ever since the Enlightenment, educated westerners, whether they regard themselves as religious or not, have increasingly believed that religion is not really true, or is, at best, an approximation that develops over time, and that other peoples’ conflicting religious views should be respected as well. It’s not much of an exaggeration today to say that that contemporary western religion is a non-binding system of ethics with optional fairy stories.
    This makes it hard to deal with people who believe that their religion is actually true, and that they should follow its dictates as they understand them. Liberalism has nothing to oppose such views with, except for a generalised argument in favour of reasonableness and compromise. But by definition true believers do not accept such arguments. The ECHR judgement that Clive quotes did, indeed, find against the parents, but attempted to strike the classic liberal compromise by adding that “the applicants’ right to manifest their religion was in issue and observed that the authorities’ refusal to grant them an exemption from swimming lessons had been an interference with the freedom of religion”, albeit for a good cause. But the problem with this (and ECHR judgements have been causing some nervousness in France recently) is that this balance of rights argument is not recognised by one side. Thus, it is always the state (or the airline or whatever) which will finally compromise, and each compromise will be the prelude to another. This is starting to happen in France with some politicians on the Right cuddling up to the Catholic Church. But since liberalism has no body of doctrine that it believes is literally true, and is willing to fight for, it’s bound to lose eventually.

    1. Clive

      Yes, that’s why the legal threshold is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. The religiously inclined can always claim to have a legitimate aim in practicing their beliefs. But if what they want from society is disproportionate then that’s asking too much from too many.

      Classic gay cake stuff, to remove all risk of tainting this with non-Christian semantics.

      1. David

        That’s our threshold, yes, and one I personally have much sympathy with. But obviously if your God (or for some people your conscience but that’s a different issue) tells you that some form of behaviour is mandatory or forbidden, then any means of ensuring/preventing it is legitimate, and what they want from society is obedience to an ethic they believe should be universal. No form of dialogue is then possible.
        Yes, the state should step in, but that’s not happening everywhere. In France, since the 2005 riots the police have largely abandoned attempts to control crime in the rough immigrant areas, and education and social services are in tatters. Salafists have great influence in some areas, and slowly the state is retreating on things like principles of secularism, teaching of evolution etc. Of course not everybody (including lots of Muslims) is happy with that.

        1. vlade

          See, for me it’s the other part which is critical. Which is that the (true, if we could say there are any) liberal democracies actually need to be quite ruthless too – because the “we believe in compromise to let us live together” is a belief, and one they (including me) profess to believe in strongly.

          So, if there’s someone who does NOT believe in making compromises to live togehter , tough luck. Ultimately it is, “my roof, my rules”.

    2. fajensen

      The problem is that liberal societies are ill-equipped to deal with this sort of problem.

      In my opinion it is rather that liberal societies prefer not having to deal with this kind of problem until they are forced to deal with it. The first strands of liberalism grew out from the devastation of the Reformation, then the 30-years and 100-years wars. Most people with a sense of history and perspective will hope that perhaps “less will do it” this time.

      Even the liberal state may (this is in the worst case) compromise only up to the point where its authority and “monopoly on violence” is threatened, then it will push back with all the ressources that are available to a nation state. This will not be pretty, so the well-run state stops compromising well before reaching that point.

      We see this happening in Sweden right now. Certain groupings of people have been taking the piss for quite a while and now the state is hardening up significantly and rapidly.

      1. Jim A.

        Yes. All wars are nasty, but religious ones are especially awful. And the enlightenment was to great degree a reaction to the nasty religious wars of the reformation.

      2. vlade

        100 year wars was good 300 years before 30 years war, and wasn’t really about religion. It was the 30 year war which decimated Europe (especially Germany and Central Europe) following Reformation + Counter Reformation which made (at least some) people to sit up and think the war might not be the best way to settle differences.

        Hussite Wars in early 15th century were also religious, although they affected only relatively minor part of Europe (HRE + Poland + Hungary).

        The wars against Ottoman Empire were often cast as religious wars, but in reality weren’t.

        1. Expat

          And there are wars cast as wars for democracy and freedom which are perceived as crusades. I think, of course, of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, etc.

    3. Stephen Gardner

      You say: “Liberalism has nothing to oppose such views with, except for a generalised argument in favour of reasonableness and compromise” as if there were no such thing as secular morality. Morality does not have to be derived from religion. It is a very moral and defensible principle that men and women should have equal rights to an airline seat. It is equally moral to insist that one religion not impose its values on people not belonging to that religion. Such impositions can lead to violence and must be halted for the good of all. If haredi or wahhabis cannot live in Western society in peace then they have forfeited the right to its other benefits. Just quietly leave it our secular values offend you.

      1. David

        The problem is there are lots of secular moralities, ranging from liberalism, through Nazism to Marxist Leninism (“the only morality the Communist Party acknowledges is the morality of the class struggle.”) The great post-Enlightenment failure is to agree a single universal morality not derived from religion. (Alasdair McIntyre wrote a couple of very good books on this). And no, I don’t have one either. But quite a lot of the problem is not religious in anything except a very superficial sense, since most of these people are disowned by the more moderate among their own communities. It’s as much as anything about conservative social values – I went to a single-sex school, for example, which was quite common in the England of the 1960s, and where fraternisation (if that’s the word) with the girls” school next door was a punishable offence.

        1. Plenue

          It seems like you’re saying there was some sort of singular religious moral system to begin with that the secular world failed to produce a replacement for. I’m not sure what basis you have for this.

          In fact I’ll go further and express my doubt that there are any real religious moral systems. Religion gives you a bunch of rules to follow, and the ever present out that something is okay because the divine sanctions it. In what way does any of that constituent a system of morality?

  7. Alex morfesis

    Ya never know…once had some crazy Jamaican women refuse to get out of a seat on a connecting flight…when the pilot came out and she still refused, I offered to just take the flight they were moving her to…they said she wasn’t supposed to get off the flight…just move to another seat.. At which point I ordered the pilot to get back into the cockpit and get the damn plane in the air since no one had bothered to tell me there was one seat still open…I had needed to get back to NYC…

    the delay probably ended up causing a series of events leading to well…a (family blog) legacy multi generational loss of money…but…

    The woman I was moved next to on the flight did eventually make a pass at me by asking me if I was just going to not eat my cookie on the food tray…which led to dates…which led to my first marriage…a rather expensive marriage if one considers the collapse of the waffling real estate empire…
    But wouldn’t change one minute of it…even though it flamed out a decade later..

    As to which sect exactly these Neanderthals (cha-lub, etc) belong to…haredi is an easy media catch phrase…but not exactly a singular sect…much as Sunni really means nothing as there are a thousand branches of Sunni doctrines and hundreds of Shia interpretations and hundreds in between…

    Idiots are idiots the world over, no matter if they dress as williamsburg semi goth hommie the clown rapper wanna bees with their amulets keeping the contaminated ones from disturbing their perfection…

    And the shiksas of the world are constantly disturbing their progeny, leading to perpetual loss of younginz…

    Although hate is the universal language…it almost always dies out when the fake enemies have moved on and the internal noise makers have nothing to feed off of…

    Nothing in the above is to suggest any evil anywhere should be encouraged and fighting all evil on all fronts in the universal and only actionable prime directive… The nonsense about leaving (family blog) alone is just but a Hollywood script treatment…

    The hate-seed-umz of the world should not be allowed to feed their beer muscles…

  8. DF

    A smallish niggle — aren’t these ultra-Orthodox, not “regular” Orthodox Jews? AFAIK, Non-ultra-Orthodox Jews aren’t know for this kind of boorish behavior.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Ahem, the post made that clear, starting with the headline. Haredi are a specific sect, and are normally called in the press by that name or “Ultra-Orthodox”. I also included text from the text describing the El Al incident that Orthodox men on that flight were disapproving vocally of what the Haredi were doing.

  9. Alex

    It’s a shame it look El Al the threat of a boycott to implement this very obvious policy.

    Any advice to fellow passengers who witness something like this and want to help without being evicted from the plane?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      1. Video what is happening and upload it to Twitter as soon as you can. Journalists follow Twitter and will embed tweets in articles. That won’t stop it in real time but will embarrass the airline and help the wronged passenger, particularly if they want to get a lawyer to sue the airline later.

      2. Politely ask the crew members why the Haredi isn’t being removed from the plane for failure to comply with the requirement to take his seat and being a safety risk (not being willing to listen to female crew members).

      1. Lambert Strether

        > being a safety risk (not being willing to listen to female crew members).

        Strong argument. Note this applies to the entire passenger complement, since if non-listening Haredi manage to butcher evacuation instructions, others will be affected besides them (if they manage to jam an exit row, for example, or head down the aisle in the wrong direction).

      2. Oregoncharles

        Despite being disguised as waitresses, stewards, of both sexes, are security personnel – hiring women was an early PR move. As others said, refusing to listen to them should get you automatically booted from the plane.

  10. Carolinian

    It’s not just seats

    Just this week, in a different but related situation, an ultra-Orthodox man created a disturbance on an El Al flight from Warsaw to Tel Aviv to protest the screening of “Truth,” starring Cate Blanchett and Robert Redford, a movie he deemed immodest, the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot reported.


    Meanwhile in my state car license plates with a pro-Christian message are allowed and issued while one suspects that requesting one promoting Allah would meet with considerable resistance.

    The Haredi, or for that matter Christians, are certainly entitled to believe what they like but they are not entitled under the American system at least to force those beliefs on others. One gets the impression that many Israelis are also fed up with the ultra orthodox who refuse to serve in their military and demand certain privileges. But when you establish a state based on religion you are opening a Pandora’s box.

    1. Clive

      I’m not sure this is necessarily state-religion based. Here in London, orthodox communities abusing everything from parking, business zoning and school licensing have united every other community in opposition and in demanding that local authority action must be taken even in the face of concerns over being labelled anti Semitic. It is interesting that this is a community-based, rather than official, response.

      1. Carolinian

        I guess what I’m saying is that these incidents do have something to do with the existence of a powerful state that sanctions religious preferences. And at the end of the day it is all about power, not religion. Those Haredi passengers are merely asserting a primitive territoriality. The same would be true Christian fundamentalists who want to force the state to give a kind of endorsement.

        1. Clive

          Yes, that’s spot-on. It was a power-play to force someone from their seat and it was that leverage of power (“are you going to deny me my religious freedom?” was the unspoken question which the zealots asked their fellow passengers, thereby seeking to be seen as victimised and the draw down on the power that victimhood confers) which so rankles.

        2. Tinky

          Along those lines, I noticed “pro-life” Florida (vanity) license plates years ago, and have yet to see a “pro-choice” alternative.

        3. Ignacio

          And at the end of the day it is all about power, not religion.

          Yes, yes, yes. And how power has used religion to exert all kind of abuses

      2. The Rev Kev

        I seem to recall reading last year about an Ultra-orthodox community in the US which were basically treating their American neighbours as if they were Palestinians as they expanded. Apparently there are more and more of these Ultra-orthodox communities being set up in the US but they do not try to endear themselves with the locals.

        1. Clive

          Typically, your average Brit will probably shuffle off in embarrassment at being asked to move airline seat. But neighbours putting an ugly alteration on their house or chopping down a tree in a conservation area so they can park six cars in their drive at the request of their “extended family” — that’s on a par with a declaration of war!

        2. cyclist

          You may be thinking of some communities in Rockland Co., NY, where the ultra-orthodox have a majority on school boards, and institute austerity in the district to keep their taxes low. Of course, their kids do not attend the public schools.

          1. Michael Fiorillo

            The Hasidim don’t attend the Rockland County public schools, but a lot of taxpayer money is funneled to their yeshivas by Hasidim-dominated school boards – the pillaging of Spring Valley has been a a particular shondah – courtesy of their block voting and the fear and venality of other elected officials.

          2. The Rev Kev

            That sounds like the place that I was reading about.

            Austerity for thee,
            but not for me

    2. bronco

      If the religious nutjobs get their way on this earthly plane of existence just remember that the rest of us will have the last laugh when they die and there turns out to be no afterlife .

      On the other hand I guess they won’t have any way of realizing that so its tough to say who wins that battle.

  11. geoff gray

    Might the haredi airplane kerfuffle mirror the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? One group, the Israelis demanding that the Palestinians give up their seat/land and then bullying to get it? I think Gilad Atzom might have a word to say about identity politics here.

    1. Comradefrana

      “Might the haredi airplane kerfuffle mirror the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?”

      It’s surprisingly not so clear-cut. Apparently Haredim were against moving to the settlements initially and started only recently, because that’s where there’s affordable housing. On the other hand they now make up about 30% of the settlers and that number is only going to grow in the future.


  12. TheMog

    There’s another angle to this (IMHO) – one of the cited articles mentioned that the Haredis refused to look at or speak to female flight attendants. That alone should give the airline enough reasons to eject them from the flight. Why? It’s a safety issue.

    People occasionally forget that cabin crew’s big role is safety, with peanut and drink delivery a distant second. Having a group of people on the plane who essentially refuse to acknowledge the existence of part of the cabin crew is an issue in an emergency. That alone should give the airline the necessary leverage to take these bullies off the plane.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Yes, I neglected to include that. Passengers are required to obey crew member instructions. Not listening to crew makes that a non-starter.

    2. ChrisPacific

      I agree. That would have been grounds for instant removal in my book. It might be worth (politely) reminding crew of that if they don’t think of it at the time.

      This strikes me as an issue that could be fixed by training. If you make a clear policy on what to do in these situations and make it clear that you expect crew to follow it (and that you’ll have their back when they do) then I doubt we would see this kind of problem. The crew handling it the way they did suggests that, at best, they have been given no clear guidance on what to do. At worst they may have been tacitly or explicitly encouraged to follow this kind of enabling/conflict avoidance approach. It’s not always realistic to anticipate every situation in advance so I’d give the airline one free pass, but if this ever happens to them again I’d expect it to be handled promptly and appropriately.

  13. dbk

    Wow. This happened on a flight I took a couple years ago, United/Lufthansa out of ORD headed for Germany.

    There was a large group of Haredi boys (young, late teens) headed for summer camp in Israel. They were seated in about four rows (central aisle, so 4 x 4 = at least 16 of them) across from, behind, and in front of me. A couple of women in their sixties were moved to accommodate the teenagers.

    The women didn’t make a fuss – it wasn’t a full flight and they got comparable seats – but it was weird, and the flight attendants involved were super-polite. People felt uncomfortable, and, in typical polite-out-of-the-Midwest style spent the 8 hour flight pretending the boys weren’t really there.

    1. Jeff

      Never forget these Neanderthals live in a community of enablers that are just as responsible for this type of idiocy as the practitioners of haredi themselves.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        That isn’t accurate. The problem is the Haredi are particularly aggressive about their perceived wants, and at now 11% of the population of Israel, that is a big enough group to be hard to contend with, particularly since they tend to congregate together, so when anyone tried to take them on, they are likely to be outnumbered, or would soon be.

        We don’t have anything comparable in the US, like guys who attack busses with hammers, so it’s hard to relate. See this, for instance:

        Israeli police on Sunday dispersed using riot control measures hundreds of ultra-Orthodox Jews who protested against conscription near the IDF recruitment office in Jerusalem, throwing blunt objects at officers and cars passing by….

        The ultra-Orthodox strictly observe the rules of Judaism in all aspects of daily and spiritual life. They see conscription as a source of temptation for young people, out of the closed world of prayer and religious study to which, for the most part, they devote themselves exclusively.


        Translation: conscription might lead a lot of young Haredi men to see how the rest of the world functions and abandon the sect.

        You can accuse of El Al being enablers, and you have a case there but (not that I think this was their main reason) their baggage policy would have very much delayed the NY plane, so they could argue that they would have greatly inconvenienced all the passengers to have had the four Haredi removed.

      2. Synapsid

        Jeff, and Alex Morfesis:

        Please stop disparaging Neanderthals. They were probably peace loving–we’re still here but they aren’t.

        (Except in the DNA of many of us)

  14. run75441

    Interesting and something I have not encountered yet while flying globally. I can only speak to the reserving of seats for crew in which one airline reserved an entire row 2+3+2 seats for one crew member, in First Class, for the reserve pilot, and coming back from Seoul. The seat was at the bulkhead which is roomy.

    To get it released, I insisted I was a paying customer to the person selecting the seating for me. They eventually gave the reserve pilot 2 seats on the side. My pilot son-in-law was the one who turned me on to this.

  15. freedomny

    I bought my last apartment from an ultra Orthodox Jewish sponsor (he was the one who originally converted the building to a coop). At the closing he refused to shake my hand, speak to me or even make eye contact. If my 10% deposit wasn’t on the line for refusing to complete the closing, I would have walked out.

  16. Expat

    While this may seem extreme and seems to offend Christians and other religions, I wonder how much scrutiny those protesting would accept of American society vis à vis Christianity. There are many places in the States where, if you don’t attend Protestant service, you are ostracized. We have laws based on archaic Biblical texts. We allow parents to let their children die because they don’t believe in science.

    Religion is a powerful, almost omnipotent defense against criticism. Think about something like apartheid. What if apartheid had been justified on religious grounds?

    Religion imposes its beliefs on everyone. This particular incident or behavior has offended people outside the sect. But this is just one incident among many, perhaps more offensive than some behaviors but certainly less offensive than many.

    1. David

      It was indeed justified on religious grounds by the Dutch Reformed Church, which only finally changed its opinions at the end of the 1980s. The Afrikaner community were seen by the DRC as the inheritors of the Biblical mantle of the Israelites, led by God to the promised land of the Cape. It therefore belonged to them, and not to anyone else (even fellow-whites from elsewhere). Apartheid was a pseudo-scientific theory, but with a strong religious underpinning.

      1. Expat

        I am not aware of official South African government pronouncements on that basis. Certainly the Dutch Reformed Church used the bible to justify apartheid and was excluded from many other groups for that reason.

        But this certainly shows that using religious texts, written hundreds or thousands of years ago, badly or mistranslated, and taken out of context, allows religious people to justify anything they want. Who are we to say they are wrong? If you accept God, you accept any insanity that the believer chooses to add onto that delusion.

        1. David

          Agree with your second point. The DRC was actually extremely powerful politically, and successive Nationalist Party leaders were prominent members. As far as I recall there was never a state religion as such, but the DRC was the Afrikaner elite at prayer – and there was a lot of prayer, by my observation. In addition, the DRC leadership were members of the Broederbond, the secret society restricted to Afrikaners which effectively ran the country. It’s worth adding that a lot of the senior generals and police commanders were very devout people, who believed they were doing God’s work in defending Christian civilisation from the Communist menace.

          1. Expat

            i agree. While I can’t find anything in writing by the government, it is clear that they borrowed freely from the DRC. Perhaps if they had made apartheid the official doctrine of a state church, they would have been spared all the unpleasantness of freeing the blacks.

            It is always interesting to see how oppressed peoples turn to apparently unpleasant things like communism or fanatical religions in their struggles. Look at Castro, Ho Chi Minh, and many other leaders. When they were beaten down by Western nations, Western values, and Western religions, they turned to alternative sources and the only places they could find support. Frankly, I don’t believe for an instant the the White South Africans were afraid of communist in Soweto. It was a perfect excuse which would please America and various other rabidly anti-communist countries.

  17. Edward

    What would be interesting is to have a flight where all the passengers are either Haredi, or Christian, Muslim, or Hindu fundamentalists. Maybe they will all have conflicting requirements.

    1. polecat

      Well, on the other hand, who knows ?? .. they all might just convene an impromptu interdisciplinary encyclical in a high-velocity flying aluminum tube, and come to terms they can all agree with.

      1. Edward

        Actually the Hindu BJP types and the Christian fundamentalists are united with Jewish Zionists in an anti-Muslim agenda. And at the same time there is an Israeli-Saudi alliance. I think the anti-Muslim politics of Christian fundamentalists is a bit ironic, because they actually have some things in common with Muslims, such as social conservatism.

        The Haredi want to impose their religious views on others but what do they do if another religion has its own pet dogmas they insist on?

  18. Jeremy Grimm

    After the Dr. Dao incident and contemplating the high costs both financial and other for needing and receiving medical attention — if things are still not going well after steps 1 .. 3 and if #4 gets no play then I think focus on 5 .. 6 and if things come to that point remember an sailing adage: “It doesn’t pay to challenge the Queen Mary for starboard tack in your Sabot.”

    If one of the passengers could record events in a video you might have youtube candidate on your hands and with enough of #2 and #6 is there any possibility for bringing a legal action promising sufficient notoriety and or $$$ to entice some lawyer(s)?

  19. Wukchumni

    And while we’re on this subject matter, what about being in close proximity to a gaggle of Israeli tourists overseas that make any Ugly American tourist look pretty, in comparison?

    I definitely have wanted to give up my seat in restaurants occasionally, having to endure their antics

    1. bronco

      Just casually walk over near them , look around in a furtive manner, and leave a backpack on the ground , then walk quickly away

    2. Duke De Guise

      On that note, my daughter recently worked the front of the house at the restaurant at the Regency Hotel in Manhattan, a noted habitat for the feeding and socializing of the Local and global Overclass (and wannabes).

      She invariably said that, amid a lot of gross entitlement and bad behavior, the worst of the worst were invariably the Israelis, and the Brazilians.

  20. Dave


    I’ve been reading your blog for quite a while and love it; great job. My personal religious views aren’t easily put in a box; however, I attended both Haredi and non-Haredi Orthodox Jewish rabbinic schools (I’m a physician, not a rabbi). I have a couple issues with your article. This first is a clarification. Though it should be obvious, a Haredi male’s objection to sitting next to a woman is related to gender mixing and sexuality, not misogyny. In his mind, it has nothing to do with who is “better” or “more important.” I’m not saying that one can’t legitimately criticize misogyny in the culture or even claim that separation is inevitably linked with misogyny, but it’s not the proximal reason in these examples. It’s simply not an objection to sitting next to “inferior” people as you portray.

    The second and related issue is the vitriol you employ, itself bordering on the stereotyping you condemn. “Orthodox Jewish bigots … Klansmen?” “Occupying army?” Of the few comments I have read, the first spoke of, “Primitive patriarchal lunatics.” We all have our biases, and there may be some worth examining here.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I know you took a reasonable-seeeming tone, but I call bullshit. A man demanding a woman give up her seat to accommodate his antipathy for sitting next to her, is misogyny and I find it stunning that you are unable to see that. If the Haredi don’t like gender mixing, they should not fly on airplanes or only on ones they have chartered. You don’t get to take advantage of the shared modern services and then try to write your own rules, particularly when they violate laws against discrimination AND airline flight safety requirements.

      People, particularly women, have a right to be angry about this crap. The “primitive” comment echoes a quote from a legislator that was picked up by the Times of Israel.

      Let us look at Jews who condemn Haredi as misogynistic, and in as caustic terms as I used. Leon Wieseltier (the entire piece is worth reading):

      “The list of controversies grows weekly,” Ethan Bronner and Isabel Kershner, filing from Jerusalem, write in The New York Times. “Organizers of a conference last week on women’s health and Jewish law barred women from speaking from the podium, leading at least eight speakers to cancel; ultra-Orthodox men spit on an eight-year-old girl whom they deemed immodestly dressed; the chief rabbi of the air force resigned his post because the army declined to excuse ultra-Orthodox soldiers from attending events where female singers perform; protesters depicted the Jerusalem police commander as Hitler on posters because he instructed public bus lines with mixed-sex seating to drive through ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods; vandals blacked out women’s faces on Jerusalem billboards.” And a distinguished professor of pediatrics whose book won an award from the Ministry of Health was instructed that she could not sit with her husband at the ceremony and that a male colleague would accept her prize for her because women were forbidden from the stage. Bronner’s and Kershner’s report provoked widespread revulsion. Revulsion was followed by apologetics, as it was pointed out (by the press spokesman of the Israeli Embassy, for example, in a letter to the Times) that “the vast majority of Israeli women … enjoy full and equal rights unrivalled anywhere in the Middle East—indeed, in most of the world.” That is true, and not at all trivial….. This anti-liberalism cannot be conspiratorially imputed to foreigners or enemies: Jews are doing this to Jews. The odious misogyny of the ultra-Orthodox is certainly not typical of Israeli life, from which the ultra-Orthodox have anyway seceded (except to exploit the welfare system…..

      THE ORIGINS OF the inflammation may be located in religion and in politics. “Discrimination against women goes against the tradition of the Bible and the principles of Judaism,” Benjamin Netanyahu, who is plainly disgusted by these developments, asserted last week…. The real challenge for traditional Judaism, in Israel and in America, is that the problem of the ultra-Orthodox is increasingly the problem of the Orthodox.


      Or Jeffrey Falick in Haredi Misogyny Is Nothing New:

      If you have not had the opportunity to watch the YouTube video in the previous post, now would be a good time. Tonight, in a tribute to sanity, several thousand protestors arrived – on one day’s notice – for a rally in Beit Shemesh. Secular and religious Jews, including a few moderate Haredim, joined together to express their outrage.

      It’s terrific and I’m the first to applaud this demonstration of sensibility. But before we start celebrating the end of Haredi misogyny, let’s remember that negativity about women – if not the violence – is widespread in Haredi Judaism.


      Or Tsafi Saar in Haaretz in Not Only the ultra-Orthodox Discriminate Against Women in Israel:

      WBefore anything else, let’s get rid of the term “exclusion.” We haven’t heard such a clean and shiny euphemism since we began describing terror attacks with the linguistic pearl “price tag.” What everyone nowadays is calling exclusion of women by is nothing less than misogyny and gynophobia, sexism that’s deeply rooted.


      And look at the examples Rev Kev cited about about Haredi hitting busses with hammers if they didn’t get women to enter and sit in the back. They have no business whatsoever forcing people outside their community to comply with their preferences.

      See this from a reader in France:

      Dear Yves, I can’t applaud more your initiative to report on this toxic nonsense. It makes my blood boil even to think about it. As a lawyer, I help women fight discrimination at work..and now I see that as customers they are being once again belittled and shoved aside. Totally infuriating.. El Al should and the rest should be totally ashamed of themselves. Men should stand up and totally support women who want to stay in their fully paid seat!!

      As a French man, I get another perspective..My sister tells me that in France there are more and more incidents of extremist Muslim men who refuse to interact with women at work..Bus drivers who don’t want to drive a bus that was previously driven by a woman or muslim workers refusing to interact with women altogether including shaking hands..etc

      In December 2012 for example, around 20 bus drivers belonging to the CGT union had denounced the chilling work environment created by Islamist bus drivers at the bus depot of Nanterre (the western suburb of Paris). Some women bus drivers were complaining that their Muslim colleagues refused to shake their hands; others complained that some Muslims refused to drive a bus that was driven before them by a female driver.

    2. Plenue

      ‘Separate but equal’. Gee, where have I heard that before?

      Anyway, the men may very believe they’re not doing it out of hatred of women. That doesn’t change the fact that the philosophy underlying all that institutionalized control of women is based in hatred, disgust, and fear. Do I really have to point out the Jewish daily prayer giving thanks for not being born a slave, gentile, or woman? Going straight back to Genesis, where Adam is created in God’s image, whereas woman is just some bastard mutant offshoot created from Adam’s rib. Woman is the cause of mankind’s downfall, and her monthly bleeding and painful childbirth eternal marks of women’s collective shame. The lawcodes specifying isolation of women during their ‘unclean’ days, or proscribing death by stoning for any woman who is found to not be a virgin on her wedding night. I think one would be hard pressed to find to find a cultural text more laden with outright loathing of women than that of Judaism.

      Things like the case of ultra orthodox men spitting in the face of a kid because they deemed her not sufficiently modestly dressed, that sort of behavior doesn’t just come from nowhere. It comes from being steeped in a thoroughly grotesque and retrograde worldview.

      Also, spare us the implications of antisemitism. Hasbara cliches won’t get you far around here.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Yes, it’s not hard to disprove this bogus “this is just about separating the sexes” blather. Tell me how many female Haredi rabbis there are.

    3. dbk


      I am aware that formally the reason they refuse to sit next to women on flights is justified because of “gender and sexuality.”

      But the boys were teenagers, and the women compelled to relocate were in their sixties, old enough to be their grandmothers.

      Invoking “sexuality” in such cases really seems a bridge too far on an international flight jointly operated by two non-Israeli countries (U.S., Germany) whose regulations do not permit displacement of already-seated passengers.

  21. Dave


    There are multiple problems with your reply. First, blaming some members of a group for the actions of others is simply racism. It’s no different than trying to prevent Muslims from entering this country because of what some Muslims have done, and I don’t think you want to get into that boat. Second, you continue to mischaracterize what is occurring. They aren’t “demanding a woman give up her seat.” They are trying to sit next to men, and they would be happy to themselves switch with another man to accomplish that. Yes, it may sometimes involve asking a woman to switch her seat. If you consider that misogyny and wish to advocate that women refuse, I appreciate your perspective, but to describe it as akin to “Klansmen asking blacks to switch their seats” is a mischaracterization. Third, quoting Jews as if that somehow absolves you of stereotyping is faulty logic. Imagine someone yelling about Sunni Islam and then, when confronted with his stereotyping, quoting Shia Muslims in defense.

    1. linrom1

      You are not the only person who thinks that. I too was an avid reader of this site from its very inception especially during the global financial crisis period. I think this site is how I found Michael Hudson?

      But I am wondering where this site is heading—but not really—I know the answer!

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Check your privilege. Women are subject to far more physical abuse and murders for being female than Jews are for being Jewish. Virtually all women are physically afraid of men on a deep seated level and for good reason: mean can and do beat the shit out of them. And women face vastly more slurs, overt and covert, on a daily basis than Jews do.

        Don’t try your special pleading with me. The Holocaust does not give an extremist Jewish sect a free pass on misogyny.

        1. Dave

          I’m not sure what you’re responding to and don’t play the who’s-more-discriminated-against game. As long as you mention it, there are times when Jews or groups or Jews say or do things which I find inappropriate and out of character, and I believe it’s a response to past national trauma. It seems as if you are expressing something similar.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            So now you are patronizing me. That’s not on either.

            I suspect you don’t read this site, or if you do, you have a conveniently selective memory. We call out conduct we don’t approve of in unvarnished language regularly.

            And your entire strategy has been an ad homimen attack, to insinuate that we are biased, rather than address the conduct at hand. That’s a logically invalid form of argumentation and a violation of our written site Policies. We provided examples of Jews who described the conduct of the Haredi in the same terms we did. That should have settled the discussion, which I never should have indulged in the first place, but you persist.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Sorry, go read on what is happening in Israel. Demanding that women occupy only the physical places that Haredi deem OK has become a widespread practice.

      And they were demanding that a women give up their seats, just as they insist that women sit in the back of busses and only use the rear door. Their perception of their rights took precedence over the women’s clear legal rights to stay in their seats.

      This is bigotry and just because it occurs among a relatively small number of adherents your religion globally does not make it OK and does not justify you attacking people who call it out, any more than calling the sub-sects of Mormons who force women to become child brides in polygamous marriages as “primitive” or “bigots” or “misogynists” would be either. But some of the cults with retrograde restrictions on women also physically isolate themselves and don’t go out recruiting or imposing their behaviors on non-cultists, so they don’t cause enough friction with the rest of society to get the same level of opprobrium. In fact, I find it bizarre that you act as if they should be treated as representatives of Judaism that merit defending. As I pointed out, many Orthodox men on the El Al flight voiced their disapproval of the Haredi antics.

      If this is so important to the Haredi, the onus is on them to arrange to fly with other men or buy the seat next to them. They are totally out of line to make airlines rearrange their seating in any manner to accommodate them.

    3. bronco

      No its not racism. Blaming one member of an ethnic group for the sins of another might be racism.
      Race is at least somewhat factual a person can be tied to a group or race by virtue of their birthplace or who their parents are. , religion however , is imaginary nonsense . People that believe in unicorns and sky people are a huge problem to a free country , because they seek to force their delusions on everyone.

    4. colombetto


      They are trying to sit next to men,

      Not exactly; they are trying NOT to sit next to women. That’s a big difference.

      … to describe it as akin to “Klansmen asking blacks to switch their seats” is a mischaracterization

      How so? Why should gender discrimination be more tolerable than racism?
      It’s exactly the same thing, and if you think these bigots are any different than the old Klan, think again.

    5. Plenue

      “How dare you insinuate that all members of the Dog Kicking Club kick dogs! Just because some do, doesn’t mean they all do it! …racist!”

      Yeah, no. That game isn’t going to work. This isn’t just a few members of an Ultra Orthodox sect having certain behaviors detached from their religion. They’re following rules they, asmemb3rs of a sect, believe need to be followed, and imposing them on others and expecting their wishes to be catered to. They don’t believe they should have casual contact with women, and expect every woman, even those not of their sect, to accomodate them.

      They are acting directly on their religious doctrine. So, again, we’re not going to play this disingenuous game.

  22. Dave

    Despite my being surprised, I forgot that you defended the “Primitive patriarchal lunatic” comment and really think you ought to take a step back to reconsider. Again, I don’t know what said “legislator” said and don’t care. If a black person condemned blacks, you wouldn’t quote it in defense, so just stop. I’m pretty you don’t regard as authoritative comments from Bill Cosby or Ben Carson about black culture because they are black. I wouldn’t disagree with someone who characterized the religious sect as patriarchal. “Primitive” is a highly loaded and subjective term. Characterizing a group of people as “lunatics,” however, is very clearly negative stereotyping.

    1. Stephen Gardner

      Explain to me why attempting to impose rules on others that are incompatible with modern life is not primitive? Would you feel the same way if someone characterized the Taleban or wahhabis as primitive?

      1. Dave

        Yes. If someone described Wahhabis as primitive, I would suspect them of being racist. If someone described them as lunatics, I would strongly suspect them of racism. If someone defended the description of Wahhabis as lunatics, indicating it wasn’t simply poorly phrased hyperbole, my assumption going forward would be that they are racist. I guess the far left, with which I often agree, and the far right, with which I do not, can start to blur.

        This doesn’t mean you can’t strongly disagree with beliefs or practices, but genuinely believing groups of people to be lunatics is a fair indicator that your gauge of reality is off. I am very familiar with the haredi community. You may not trust me, but I assure you that “lunatics” is not a fair generalization.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Help me. The Wahhabi are not a race. Are you serious that you don’t even understand the difference between race and religion? Or are you so desperate to justify your position that you’ll use any stick to beat a dog?

    2. Lambert Strether

      > negative stereotyping

      Let’s reframe the discussion. Instead of religion, let’s imagine being a Haredi is like joining a club. There are dues, there are club rules, there are club rituals (public and private) that are regularly performed, there’s even a club uniform. Like the Masons, or the Lions, or the Shiners, or whatever.

      Is it fair to hold individual club members responsible for the behavior of other club members, when that behavior is sanctioned (or mandated) by club rules?

      I think it is. That’s what they signed up for, what they paid dues to support, and so on.

  23. oliverks

    Why would the airline lose money if they kick people off? It seems to me, that if they don’t like their seats, they can leave (or more likely be “escorted” off the plane) and forfeit their ticket.

    The airline provided them with the opportunity to sit in a perfectly reasonable seat, and they didn’t like it. So they lose the ticket and the airline save a bit of cash by reducing the weight they need to carry. If the flight was overbooked, they could even resell the seats.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      In the first case, it was four seats, the second, 26. I doubt they could have been refilled. The plane had been seated and standby seats already dispensed with, so anyone hoping to fly standby would have left the gate area before boarding began.

      Also as someone pointed out above, on El Al, they would have had to remove any bags from the hold, which would have further delayed the flight, and more delays usually mean more costs (passengers missing connections, crew and equipment arriving late and causing more problems to the system….).

      So the airline would have had unfilled seats.

      Now if they had had to remove the passenger (as opposed to merely tell him to leave or he’d be removed), they could probably cancel his ticket and keep the funds. But I’d need to check the Contract of Carriage, and at this moment, I am feeling lazy.

      1. oliverks

        I just checked the United Contract of Carriage and Rule 21 J) surprisingly says that you may be entitled to a refund if you are ejected. I did not know that, I would assume United would be oh well.

  24. nervos belli

    I’m certainly no lawyer for airline carriage contracts, but couldn’t the persons forced to give up their seat simply ask for monetary compensation?

    “If you want me to take any other seat, please comp me my ticket in full. I then won’t even go to twitter and show those pictures I just made about the disgraceful behaviour of your employees”.

    After all, this site is called “naked capitalism”, so I think this would be a fitting solution.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      You are still missing the point.

      Once you are in the seat, under pretty much all Contracts of Carriage, you cannot be legally forced to give up your seat. You need to stand firm on that issue and make them cite the language they are relying on to justify your removal.

      That is more likely to get them to try buying you off than trying to finagle an offer from them.

      And if they haul you off, you are looking at getting damages and being able to make hell for them in the press, particularly if you make your case in the plane re knowing your rights calmly without raising your voice (at least until they start putting their hands on you if things go that way). Other passengers will hear that and hopefully someone will record the interaction.

  25. XXYY

    As a thought experiment, suppose these were cases where women piped up and said their (Flying Spaghetti Monster?) religion prevents them from sitting next to orthodox Jews on aircraft, and could the offending men next to them please be re-seated or removed from the plane. This would (a) not have gotten any action from the flight crew beyond a laugh, and (b) have immediately made it clear that bigotry was going on, as opposed to good faith religious observance or whatever.

    While Jews like to point out their long history of discrimination and oppression, the history of men oppressing women is even longer, and (apparently) takes place even within the oppressed races themselves at times. We are all making some progress at stamping this out; let’s keep going!

    1. nervos belli

      No need for religion:
      “I’m a world famous feminist and can’t sit beside a potential rapist with a penis like H. Weinstein. Please give me another seat”.
      Or someone could seat a woman besides actual H. Weinstein.

      Would be interesting to see what the flight crew does then.

  26. Edward

    I think this story is essentially about power; the more power a group has the freer it will feel to demand that non-group people observe its restrictions. The most extreme version of this is when religious people execute “infidels”. In Israel the Haredi are in the upper part of the pecking order and are probably used to the idea of making such demands, although I doubt all Haredi are Israeli. When did this behavior start and why? I don’t remember hearing about it 20 years ago. I think the Haredi have crossed the line.

  27. Lune

    The fact that these Haredi men didn’t ask for themselves to be reseated, but rather requested the women move, betrays that this isn’t about modesty but about power. If it’s all about modesty, why don’t they sit in the back of the bus and give the front to the women?

    Furthermore, this isn’t about tarring an entire group. In those same flights, there probably were ultra-orthodox men who, regardless of whatever personal reservations they might have had, followed the rules required and sublimated their religious teachings to enjoy the service of flying. But you certainly don’t have to. If you truly wish to follow the dictates of your religion, then be willing to sacrifice for your religion and go without commercial flight. Or charter your own flight or buy a second seat that you can keep empty to ensure you stay true to your ideals. Is there something in Haredi edicts that dictates they must fly, and / or must not buy a second seat? Why is it that the rest of society must accommodate their religious beliefs rather than they themselves sacrificing for their beliefs?

  28. bronco

    If your religion is that primitive then it should not recognize the existence of flying machines only birds or obviously bugs can fly . Of course angels can also fly , when they are not dancing on the head of a pin, just kidding , dancing is evil .

    Man is not meant to fly its an affront to the holy beings in the sky. I could go on , but you don’t see Amish flying do you? There are a lot of practical problems with horse drawn airplanes that I can’t go into , lets just say jesus is against it and leave it at that.

  29. ScottS

    They must be fun at parties.

    Like the comedians say, if your religion has you wearing funny hats, its time to start asking questions.

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