El Al CEO promises that there will be no more seating discrimination against women on the airline

Two days ago I called your attention to yet another case of Haredi (extreme Orthodox) Jewish men refusing to sit next to women on an El Al flight from New York to Tel Aviv. Despite El Al’s promise, in a previously settled lawsuit, that it would “never again ask a passenger to move seats based on a request that involved gender”, it did, and two women moved to accommodate the delusional Haredis. The flight was delayed by an hour and a quarter.

There was a lot of negative publicity toward the airline, and, as reader ד”ר אורי פלביץ’ noted in a comment, the Times of Israel (and now Haaretz as well) have reported more serious repercussions from a big Israeli tech company.  As the Times of Israel reports:

The head of a major Israeli tech company announced Monday that his company would be boycotting El Al after a flight from New York to Israel this week was delayed for over an hour due to the refusal by a number of ultra-Orthodox men to sit next to women.

NICE System’s CEO Barak Eilam wrote on Facebook that “at NICE we don’t do business with companies that discriminate against race, gender or religion.”

The Ra’anana-based enterprise software provider is one of Israel’s largest tech companies with annual revenue over $1 billion.

“NICE will not fly with El Al until they change their practice and actions that are discriminating [against] women,” Eilam added.

They also report this:

El Al has been known to regularly ask passengers to move seats at the request — and sometimes the demand — of ultra-Orthodox men who refuse to sit next to women.

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.

I suppose El Al could argue that the women weren’t forced, but asked; but given that the Haredi men were causing a disturbance (threatening to stand in the aisles if they didn’t get the right seats), and refused to even look at or talk to female flight attendants, those men should have been booted from the flight toute suite. Plus El Al promised before that it wouldn’t even ask women to change seats.

Still, according to both Haaretz and the Times, the CEO of El Al has said this won’t happen again. But instead of simply apologizing and affirming that policy, the El Al chairman waffled, weaseled and kvetched. From Haaretz (my emphasis):

Responding on Monday to the comments by Nice’s Eilam, El Al CEO Gonen Usishkin said: “The statement released by the Nice CEO was done without checking the facts [and] in a hasty manner, and I have made this clear to him in [a] conversation with him. The El Al people who dealt with the incident did so with proper sensitivity. Anyone flying the national carrier senses the values on which we have built the company. The company [observes] equality without distinction of race religion or gender.”

The El Al CEO added: “In the interest of resolving any doubt, I have today ordered a refinement of procedure on the matter and, from now on, a passenger who refuses to sit next to another passenger will be immediately removed from the flight.”

Okay, good. But given that they promised that there would be no more seat-changing, forgive me if I don’t quite believe Usishkin. El Al should also make clear, when passengers are buying tickets, that if they want to ensure that they don’t sit next to a woman, they should buy an empty seat next to theirs.

Here’s a parody ad for El Al put together by Tablet Magazine, a Jewish publication.


  1. Posted June 26, 2018 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    I suppose El Al could argue that the women weren’t forced, but asked …

    Though regulations generally *require* passengers to comply with requests from the crew, so the distinction here is moot.

    At least in the UK it is a criminal offence not to comply with an instruction from the plane’s captain.

  2. Randall Schenck
    Posted June 26, 2018 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    I wonder how the guys would feel about sitting in the back of the plane. Kind of like that bus thing we use to do here.

    • Posted June 26, 2018 at 9:37 am | Permalink

      Perhaps there is room in the baggage compartment, next to the Canaan dog making the trip with its owner.

    • Hempenstein
      Posted June 27, 2018 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

      There’s an idea – make it known that on reserving a seat, if you want to only sit beside a man, you must make that declaration, and those Haredi will be accommodated starting from the rear of the craft, which will be filled with them from that direction. No declaration: seating starts from the front. Last-minute tickets get no choice, and that’s that. No whining on El Al.

  3. Saul Sorrell-Till
    Posted June 26, 2018 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    The airlines should reserve a whole row of seats for these men, on the condition that they’re all ejector seats and the women on the plane have control of the ejector buttons.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted June 26, 2018 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      Ejector seat? You’re joking.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted June 26, 2018 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

        Aston Martin….no oxygen required. I always thought that a little funny because one of the companies that made ejection seats for jets was Martin Baker.

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted June 27, 2018 at 5:26 am | Permalink


  4. pierluigi Ballabeni
    Posted June 26, 2018 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    If the contact with a woman can send them to hell, why do they not stay at home? The world is dangerous.

  5. Posted June 26, 2018 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    There will be no more…until the next time.

  6. Posted June 26, 2018 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    I realize that this would just escalate the situation, but I would really like to see an airline ensure that every single staff member, from baggage check in to TSA screening to the entire flight crew, including pilot, is a woman on flights to Israel. Then, when the Haredi refuse to acknowledge their existence, they get removed by female police officers.

    • Fat Bastard
      Posted June 26, 2018 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

      Removed by scantily clad female police officers. That will make it extra “icky” for these pious twits who really need to rethink their sexual identity.
      Their fuckhandles alone should be a dead give-away that they’re just not into girls.

  7. Diana MacPherson
    Posted June 26, 2018 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    I love how Gonen Usishkin says anyone who flies the airline “senses” the values. Yeah, that you comply with the requests of bigots. And “senses” is perfect. Screw facts – it’s about feelings.

    Good for the NICE company for standing up for what’s right. The are a big international company and sometimes it takes a big guy to be on our side for change to truly happen.

  8. Christopher
    Posted June 26, 2018 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Those men, since they clearly refuse to join the modern age and think women are a pollutant, shouldn’t take a plane anyway. After all, a women who was menstruating may have sat IN THAT VERY SEAT on the previous flight and I doubt the attendants deep-clean the fabric after every flight. They are probably sitting in a heap of girl-cooties! Perhaps they should follow their religion more closely and walk or ride an ass.

  9. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted June 26, 2018 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    Why doesn’t El Al just twice a month have a gender-segregated flight, or the Haredi just buy up a whole row of seats even if some of them are empty?

    The Haredi must know they are risking sitting next to cuties cooties and thus creating a gross inconvenience.

  10. Posted June 26, 2018 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    Kudos to NICE and shame to El Al! (I also don’t believe that they will stop pandering to the misogynists.)

  11. Chuck Zeeder
    Posted June 26, 2018 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    “El Al should also make clear, when passengers are buying tickets, that if they want to ensure that they don’t sit next to a woman, they should buy an empty seat next to theirs.”

    I strongly disagree. The burden is not on El Al to anticipate the irrational/misogynistic needs of some of their passengers. The women in the world are, in every way, entitled to the same access and respect as men. The burden is on the passengers to understand the world and work around it, if they can, to meet their own needs. It is reasonable for El Al to work with passengers to meet their special needs, but it is not their responsibility.

  12. Posted June 27, 2018 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    I’ll believe it when I see it.

  13. Brian
    Posted June 27, 2018 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Can you imagine the same situation in a Muslim-majority country? A high court ruling against gender-based discrimination and a large corporation staging a public boycott, to which the other large corporation caves amid public outcry?

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