This is becoming so common that it barely rates a mention, but what bothers me is the compliance of female passengers. Yes, it’s happened again: according to many venues, including Haaretz and the Jewish Chronicle (see also the Daily Mail if you want to go downscale), a group of ultra-Orthodox Jewish men (“Haredis”), on an EasyJet flight from Tel Aviv to London refused to sit next to women after they boarded the plane. That caused considerable consternation, which was resolved when some compliant women offered to move:
Eventually, after a 15 minute stand-off, where the men were said to have blocked the aisles, some of the female passengers offered to move from their seats in order for the men to agree to sit down.
The passenger told the JC: “A group of around 10 ultra-Orthodox men caused absolute bedlam on the flight.
“It was infuriating to witness both for passengers and for the stewards, who tried but failed to control them.
“At one point there were about 10 men in black hats blocking the aisles and refusing to sit down.
“It was impossible for the stewards to get these people to listen to them.
“When some of the women got up and moved seats to ensure that the plane got to take off, some of these men never even thought about saying ‘thank you’.
That wasn’t the end of it:
Another Haredi — ultra-Orthodox — passenger plugged his cellphone into a USB port on the crew control panel in the stewards’ galley area in order to charge it, causing the plane’s exit lights to illuminate and panicking the staff until they realized the problem, according to the Chronicle.
What finally happened? The cops came onto the plane when it landed at Luton, and escorted the men off the plane. There were no charges brought, and that was the end of it. But David Israel at The Jewish Press has beefed about the police, saying that the escort “humiliated the men” and made them do the “perp walk.” That article also seems to exculpate the men:
Here’s what happened next: the women next to whom the Haredi men refused to sit were nice enough (or practical enough) to move to different seats and, miraculously, the men in the black hats ended their “disruptive behavior.”
There’s no grousing that the men were trying to enforce their religious dictates on others in a secular space.
Yeah, according to author Israel, all that needs to happen in such cases is that some nice people should accept the misogyny of these men and, poof, everything will be all right!
What should have happened is that the police should have been called to board the plane in Tel Aviv and remove the men who didn’t want to sit next to women. Nobody should have to be inconvenienced because of the ludicrous fear of Haredis that they might—shudder—actually touch a woman. That could cause cooties! They can certainly practice their sexism in their own communities, but have no right to do so on a plane. Every company, including EasyJet, should have this policy: anybody refusing to sit next to a woman should just be removed from the plane, period. No woman should even be asked to move.
The perp walk was simply at the wrong end of the journey. It should have been at the beginning.