June 22, 2017

"Israeli airline employees cannot ask women to change seats to spare a man from having to sit next to them, a Jerusalem court ruled on Wednesday..."

"... handing down a groundbreaking decision in a case brought by a woman in her 80s," the NYT reports.
Strictly religious Jewish men who refuse to sit next to women, for fear of even inadvertent contact that could be considered immodest, are a growing phenomenon that has caused disruptions and flight delays around the world....

El Al’s lawyers argued in court that passengers often ask flight attendants to reseat them to be closer to a relative, or farther from a crying baby, or for many other reasons.... El Al denied that it discriminated against women, saying its reseating policies applied equally to men. And the airline argued that the principle of taking religious sensibilities into consideration has been defended and recognized in Israeli court....
The plaintiff, Renee Rabinowitz, "escaped the Nazis in Europe as a child."

62 comments:

n.n said...

It's not "strictly religious Jewish". It's not even conservative. It's a tradition with diverse roots.

daskol said...

Last time I flew to Israel the flight attendants attempted to re-seat an ulthraorthodox gentleman next to me. He didn't smell very good. I asked my wife to switch seats with me, and that took care of the problem: he insisted that the flight attendants find him another seat. The flight attendant was not happy with me, but she understood. This is a little dance that precedes nearly every flight to Israel.

Levi Starks said...

The plaintiff has obviously never been the victim of man spreading.

Bad Lieutenant said...

The plaintiff has obviously never been the victim of man spreading.



Yeah, that wasn't on the curriculum at Buchenwald. Slackers.

rhhardin said...

Women are smaller so good to sit next to.

Laslo Spatula said...

I like having the aisle seat, and then having a Hot woman have to squeeze past in front of me to get to her seat.

For several seconds her ass is there, firm and right in front of your face -- and often in yoga pants for travel comfort...

It is difficult to restrain from brushing the fingertips across those taut buttocks in an ever-so-incidental manner...

However, this same scenario sucks when the woman isn't Hot. Or is a dude.

Then it's like: get your ass out of my face, okay?

Situational.

I am Laslo.

daskol said...

They also smell better.

Unknown said...

My Israeli relatives like to use British Airways and fly on a Saturday to avoid Othodox Jews on their flight. Not only will they refuse to sit next to women, they also will disturb the whole plain with their daily prayer.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Etienne said...

She escaped the Nazi's, who wanted to put her to death, only to arrive in a country where the men bore her to death.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

I am DELIGHTED to hear that. I've personally seen that on planes although have not been involved. I'm generally an accommodating person - I've offered without prompting to change seats so that people can sit together, etc - but if you demand that I move to accommodate your sense of superiority, FUCK RIGHT OFF. Mister I-Don't-Live-In-The-Modern-World can get his own goddamn plane if he finds females so scary and repulsive.

Also, it's not just inadvertent physical contact, as much as I like thinking that I'm so damn sexy that brushing my arm might ignite naughty thoughts. My husband has been in his company's booth at trade shows and had Hasidic men come ask questions about their company and refuse to talk to the woman who is actually the expert. They directed their questions at him, then he turned to his female coworker who had the answers and repeated what they said verbatim, then reversed it when she answered. Come the hell on.

daskol said...

It is amusing to watch the relativelyAmerican Jews dealing with inconveniences such as being drafted into the prayers (ten men are needed), often roused from sleep, vs. the way Israelis handle such interactions. American Jews are relatively more polite or at least not as experienced in dealing with the sense of entitlement of the ultra-orthodox.

Fernandinande said...

Racist against negiahs.

Saint Croix said...

I don't know if I care enough to track down and read an Israeli judicial opinion.

But either the opinion or the article is highly annoying, because it's so feminist.

"Israeli airline employees cannot ask women to change seats"

Can they ask a man to change seats?

Or are they forbidden from asking anybody to change seats?

It seems to me the guy asking for the exemption should be the one to change seats.

I realize the NYT has a gender-specific focus. And maybe the Israeli court does too, I don't know. But it seems weird to lay down a rule that "you can't ask women to change seats." Because they're special or because it's sex discrimination?

And if sex discrimination is bad, why does the NYT article have such a feminist slant on the verdict?

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

El Al’s lawyers argued in court that passengers often ask flight attendants to reseat them to be closer to a relative, or farther from a crying baby, or for many other reasons. The airline’s policy, the lawyers said, was to accommodate such requests whenever possible, “in a way that does not inconvenience other passengers” or cause delays.

Um, what? Unless the ultra-Orthodox is asking to be reseated, rather than demanding that the woman be reseated, what does that have to do with anything? The guy seated next to the crying baby can move, but he can't make her move. Duh.

Saint Croix said...

In discussions outside the courtroom, the two sides in the case agreed on a judgment proposed by the judge, declaring that it is forbidden for a crew member to ask a passenger to change seats at the request of another passenger based on gender.

That was buried down in the article.

Israeli Court smart, NYT stupid.

MikeR said...

"if you demand that I move to accommodate your sense of superiority". Jeepers. What is your problem exactly? No one "demanded that you move". They asked for a favor, a kindness. You can say no. Apparently suggesting that you do them a kindness is an affront to you, because you hate them. Sad world.
"Sense of superiority" - i.e., trying to follow the rules of their religion. The chip on your shoulder is causing you to translate everything about them into something evil.

"they also will disturb the whole plane with their daily prayer." I've seen this many times. They don't disturb anyone, they pray in the way back. Ones I've seen, they asked permission from the flight attendants to make sure it wasn't going to be a problem, and the flight attendants were happy to help them. Lots of things people do on planes disrupt other people, and we all try to accommodate each other within reason.

"A flight attendant asked her to change seats to accommodate him, and she gave in reluctantly." Then she sued them. They're not allowed to ask any more.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

The airline employees cannot even ask the women to change seats? Or the airline employees cannot require them to change seats?

The airline should be able to ask anyone to change seats. They should not be able to require anyone to change seats, unless there is some actual safety issue involved.

Saint Croix said...

Seems like an airline could offer man-only or woman-only flights, if there was demand for such a thing.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

MikeR said...

"A flight attendant asked her to change seats to accommodate him, and she gave in reluctantly." Then she sued them.

She escaped the Nazis as a child, only to become one as an adult.

(Yes, I went there.)

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Saint Croix said...

Seems like an airline could offer man-only or woman-only flights, if there was demand for such a thing.

Do you think there is any chance in hell the court would allow that?

320Busdriver said...

What is it with Orthodox Jews and their families when travelling by air?

In the instances I've encountered, many, where the inside of an airplane was left looking like a garbage dump, were ones that were filled with Orthodox Jews with kids. I fly out of NY a lot.
If they keep their homes that way then I never want to step foot in one. I'm guessing they have paid help to clean up after them.

In the worst case I can recall, a baby vomited on itself shortly after takeoff from Newark enroute to LAX. When the flight attendant refused the moms request to clean up her baby the mom decided it best to let everyone suffer the smell on the 5.5 hour flight. Nice!

When we arrived I surveyed the carnage. Epic amounts of foods ground into the carpets and seats. Dirty diapers left in the seatbacks. And someone opened a 1500 piece jigsaw puzzle and threw it in the air like confetti, a first.

Never been on El Al and you could not pay me enough to take that ride. WTF?

Etienne said...

Why does an orthodox Jew need to go anywhere on an airplane?

I mean, who the hell wants them to come and visit?

Are they flying just to be terrorists?

Ken B said...

Illegal to *ask*?
I think the airline should NOT ask as a matter of policy, and that asking is rude and silly. But illegal to even ask seems bizarre.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

I think maybe I was in college before I learned that not all Jews are really smart doctors.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Althouse is showing great restraint and sensitivity by not offering her solution here.

MikeR said...

No one in modern society, conservative or liberal, would tolerate these comments if they were about anyone but the religious.
"He didn't smell very good."
"If they keep their homes that way then I never want to step foot in one."
Never go on a bus with a lot of Puerto Ricans, they're low-class! Plus you have to "deal with their sense of entitlement". Bigotry.

"When the flight attendant refused the moms request to clean up her baby the mom decided it best to let everyone suffer the smell on the 5.5 hour flight." - got it. A mother travelling with five children, one of whom got sick, needs to clean up the plane when she leaves. Imagine what the trip was like for her. You think she enjoys the smell of vomit? Maybe she didn't have the resources with her to clean up vomit, and the flight attendants were too busy to help. Maybe she was totally overwhelmed; I would've been. Empathy. How nice it would be if lower-class people with lots of kids wouldn't travel at all, so that the rest of us could enjoy our flights in peace.

Saint Croix said...

Do you think there is any chance in hell the court would allow that?

Why not? We allow single-sex education. And we used to allow single-sex bathrooms.

Why would it be evil or wrong for an airline to simultaneously offer co-ed planes and single-sex planes, giving everybody an option?

Or you could divide by religious lines. Orthodox Air and Reform Air.

I realize Reform Jews would object to this. They think all airlines should be Reform Air. By why should their version of Judaism prevail in Israel?

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

"if you demand that I move to accommodate your sense of superiority". Jeepers. What is your problem exactly?

That some asshole claims that I am not fit to occupy the space next to him and thus I must inconvenience myself and in so doing validate his beliefs. Yes, that is a problem to me, and yes that is unspeakably offensive. It offends my dignity as a human being and I won't ever cooperate with it.

No one "demanded that you move". They asked for a favor, a kindness. You can say no. Apparently suggesting that you do them a kindness is an affront to you, because you hate them. Sad world.

It's not a kindness to agree with someone that I am their inferior. And I don't hate anyone; that's a lazy arguing tactic on your part. (Well, except for people who talk with their mouths full.)

"Sense of superiority" - i.e., trying to follow the rules of their religion. The chip on your shoulder is causing you to translate everything about them into something evil.

Bullshit. They are trying for force ME to follow the rules of their religion. If their preferences don't affect me, more power to them. I also made no comment on "everything about them." They can do whatever they want within their own sphere; when they enter the public space which they must share with me and in which they must respect my rights, they can do whatever they want to ensure their own comfort as long as it does not include an expectation that I will disrupt myself to accommodate them. They can arrange with the airline to buy a buffer seat, or bring their wives along. Or whatever. They can't bring my presence to the attention of the flight attendant as a problem to be solved, like a wad of chewed gum. I have no obligation to respect or cooperate with that.

TerriW said...

Maybe the single sex flight could show Wonder Woman.

MikeR said...

"By why should their version of Judaism prevail in Israel?" I doubt most Americans realize how much more anti-religious the Israeli Supreme Court is than anything we've ever seen here. Imagine Hillary Clinton got to replace all five conservative Justices. Worse.

William said...

Do some religions make people compulsive or do some compulsive people become religious fanatics? Whatever you want to say about the Hasidim, they don't blow up planes, so that puts them ahead of Muslims so far as being travel companions. .......Except for Muslims, in the modern world political fanatics are far more pernicious than religious fanatics, or anyway more numerous......,,Interesting little known fact: Most Hasidic branches as well as Reform Judaism were developed in the 18th and 19th centuries by German speaking Jews. Their faith and customs are probably closer to that of an 18th century German speaking Jew than to that of a Bronze Age Jew.

MikeR said...

"And I don't hate anyone" Sorry. Just listen to yourself. Nothing I could say would prove my point better than your own words. Your chip is bigger than your shoulder.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

"And I don't hate anyone" Sorry. Just listen to yourself. Nothing I could say would prove my point better than your own words. Your chip is bigger than your shoulder.

You are far more interested in claiming, without evidence, that I hate people than in acknowledging or engaging with my point of view. I'm not sure that I am the one with a chip on my shoulder. And anyway, if refusing to be treated like a second class citizen means I have this chip, I'm happy to display it.

If you can explain why it is reasonable for someone to be entitled to my accommodation for their belief, which I do not share, please do so.

MikeR said...

"someone to be entitled to my accommodation for their belief" You have said this three out of three times. It seems likely that you have heard of doing a favor, or a request for a kindness that someone is not "entitled" to. I must assume that you just cannot see these religious beliefs without translating them into a Twilight Zone of your own imagination. Any request turns into a demand, an attack.

"Second-class citizen". Orthodox Jewish law is perfectly symmetrical on this topic, and women are as forbidden to touch men not their husbands as men are forbidden to touch women. But you are translating their beliefs into your own picture.

YoungHegelian said...

Strictly religious Jewish men who refuse to sit next to women, for fear of even inadvertent contact that could be considered immodest,

Is this correct, or is this a way for both the Orthodox & everyone else to dance around a topic that's not only distasteful, but also baffling, to everyone else? And by that I mean the notion of "uncleanliness", in the sense of ritual impurity.

If an Orthodox Jewish man touches an "unclean" woman (e.g. a woman having her period) isn't he then unclean until he performs the necessary rituals of purification?

Now, I sure as hell ain't an expert on the day to day minutiae of Halakhah, so I'm open to argument here. But, to discuss Orthodox Jewish daily life with no consideration of uncleanliness just seems to me to be missing the boat in a big way.

320Busdriver said...

Miker said...."A mother travelling with five children, one of whom got sick, needs to clean up the plane when she leaves. Imagine what the trip was like for her. You think she enjoys the smell of vomit? Maybe she didn't have the resources with her to clean up vomit, and the flight attendants were too busy to help. Maybe she was totally overwhelmed"

5 children? Where did you make that up from? Did I say they should clean up when they leave? No I did not. What I would expect is that they would treat others' and their property with some respect and not create a miserable environment for everyone on board. I expect that from everyone traveling commercially. She would have had all the resources to clean up her own child if she would just ask for them from the flight attendants. The flight attendants are not going to pick up her baby and take it to the lav and clean and change the child for her, which is what she expected. I'm just making an observation. I have a lot of experiences to draw upon. Go ahead and tell me what my motives are for sharing this. I'm sure you have a good story.

MikeR said...

'Is this correct, or is this a way for both the Orthodox & everyone else to dance around a topic that's not only distasteful, but also baffling, to everyone else? And by that I mean the notion of "uncleanliness", in the sense of ritual impurity.'
Nothing at all to do with "ritual impurity" (nidah). Orthodox Jews of whichever gender are supposed to avoid physical contact with any adult of the opposite sex. It's considered immodest.
If an Orthodox man does come into contact with a woman who is nidah, he does not need any rituals of purification. (When the Temple would be rebuilt, there are hundreds to thousands of situations that would require purification in order to visit it; nidah is one of very many. See the middle section of Leviticus and the entire Order of the Mishnah called Taharos (Purity).)

James K said...

"if you demand that I move to accommodate your sense of superiority"

Where to begin.... Somehow "ask" becomes "demand," and a religious notion of modesty and respect becomes "sense of superiority." I can see threads like this bring out a lot of people's inner anti-Semite. I think airlines should be allowed to make their own rules, within reason, and if I were running an airline, the rule would be than anyone can ask, no one can "demand."

Those modesty norms go both ways: Women might be equally uncomfortable seated next to a man other than her husband, but one never hears about such requests from women. Is it because they don't happen, or is it because it's a better news story when a man does it?

Yes, Orthodox Jews tend to have large families, so it's not a lot of fun to be on a plane with many such families. That would be true regardless of their religion. But I've flown on El Al around major Jewish holidays and it hasn't been that big of a deal.

MikeR said...

"5 children? Where did you make that up from?" "I'm sure you have a good story." It's your story, not mine. I wasn't there. Obviously I have no idea whether the woman was misbehaving, or was just overwhelmed by a situation that was more difficult than you are giving credit for, or anywhere in between.
I do think that cultures differ in how much slack is given to things like mothers with children. My wife was on a bus through an Arab village in Israel (West Bank, in the days when that was safer), and someone pushed a goat onto the bus. On that bus line, people with goats have more rights than they do on our buses (or buses elsewhere in Israel), where we feel we shouldn't have to be on a bus with a goat.
Anyhow, Israel is a country where women with children get a priority bump which is greater than the bump they are given here. People accommodate here, too, but not as far; we expect the woman with kids to do more to avoid burdening others, whereas there they tend to grumble but figure that a woman taking care of kids has enough to deal with. It may have to do with being a younger country, and - for a lot of the Chareidi families - considerably poorer.
Israelis in general tend to be less interested in the careful gentleness that is American manners. Which doesn't make them right...
But as I said before, I don't think you would have written your paragraph about people from some other young poor community. Forgive me if I misjudge you.

MikeR said...

"But I've flown on El Al around major Jewish holidays and it hasn't been that big of a deal." My impression too. But maybe I don't fly as often as people who are reporting difficult incidents. I don't remember having a problem.

320Busdriver said...

"Never go on a bus with a lot of Puerto Ricans, they're low-class! Plus you have to "deal with their sense of entitlement". Bigotry."

Your words, not mine. I do ride public transit in the NY area, often. Subs, and buses. You've assumed a lot. And are forgiven.

MikeR said...

"And are forgiven." Thank you; could be I got carried away.

James K said...

I don't remember having a problem.

I will say the atmosphere is different from, say, a flight on SAS. Sort of like that old split-screen in "Annie Hall" of the family dinners.

daskol said...

re JamesK's comment on this kind of story bringing out the inner antisemite in people, that is unfair. The people most resentful of many ultraorthodox eccentricites tend to be other Jews, in particular secular Israelis. This comes at least partly due to living in a society where the religious hold great sway over civil matters such as marriage. Much law in Israel is handled by religious courts and rabbis. There are all kinds of carve-outs for the ultraorthodox throughout Israeli society, including relaxations on the requirement for mandatory military service for yeshiva students. There's a lot resentment there. When ultraorthodox mingle with secular Jews/Israelis in places like airplanes, anything that suggests a sense of entitlement, even if it's more a case of different manners, tends to arouse that resentment.

320Busdriver said...

could be I got carried away.

And I as well with my original comment. There's a lot I don't know or understand about Jewish culture.

A few years back I took my youngest on a trip and we spent a day at Auschwitz/Birkenau. We spoke to a woman who came from Israel and whose mother had been forced to work there.

That part of the Jewish history became crystal clear for us that day.

James K said...

this kind of story bringing out the inner antisemite in people, that is unfair.
Exhibit A:

Why does an orthodox Jew need to go anywhere on an airplane?
I mean, who the hell wants them to come and visit?


No comment necessary.

Exhibit B (Your own post):

Last time I flew to Israel the flight attendants attempted to re-seat an ultra-orthodox gentleman next to me. He didn't smell very good.

Ok, this is one data point that seems intended to apply to all orthodox Jews. Otherwise why mention it? You've never been near a non-Orthodox Jew with body odor?

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

Fellows. One last time for the comprehension-challenged:

It's not OK to ask me to move. It's offensive to ask me to move. It's perfectly fine for you to move yourself. Why is this so hard to grasp?

I cannot believe that you guys are pulling anti-semitism out of this. I really don't care what rules the ultraorthodox have for themselves. I have said multiple times that if they want to avoid women, even if it find it absurd, whatever, their circus/their monkeys. No harm done to me. However, in the public space, if they want me to discommode myself on their behalf, sorry, no. They can ask politely and the answer will be a polite 'no,' they can demand and ask rudely and the answer will be 'fuck no.'

When I saw this happen on a plane the gentleman in question looked at the woman, did not speak to her, and found the (male) purser and said 'there is a woman seated in the seat next to me. You need to find her another seat.' This is behavior that you are defending? Objecting to this one quirk of behavior from some portion of a subset of Jews means I hate all Jews everywhere? Come on.

I assume that if I politely ask my Polynesian seatmate to move because of my beliefs about proximity to Pacific Islanders, and that person says "I'm happy right where I am so you're just gonna have to deal, my friend," you think that I am the one in the right? I'm even more in the right if I go find the purser and say "Hey, get rid of the guy in the seat next to me," right fellas? And then you're going to tell anyone who thinks that's not acceptable public behavior that they're an anti-no-mixing-with-pacific-islanders bigot?

readering said...

Kinda surprised El Al doesn't have a way to allow men to select seats with other men when they book. Computers and the internet and stuff.

Bad Lieutenant said...

James K said...
this kind of story bringing out the inner antisemite in people, that is unfair.
Exhibit A:

Why does an orthodox Jew need to go anywhere on an airplane?
I mean, who the hell wants them to come and visit?

James, to be fair, Etienne is this kind of crazy crackpot person. Don't pay any heed. He doesn't mean it, I think, he just says stuff to get attention or something.

Bad Lieutenant said...

I cannot believe that you guys are pulling anti-semitism out of this. I really don't care what rules the ultraorthodox have for themselves. I have said multiple times that if they want to avoid women, even if it find it absurd, whatever, their circus/their monkeys. No harm done to me. However, in the public space, if they want me to discommode myself on their behalf, sorry, no. They can ask politely and the answer will be a polite 'no,' they can demand and ask rudely and the answer will be 'fuck no.'



I take it that if you sat next to someone objectionable - say they smelled or wore the wrong party button or the like - that you would ask the stewardess to move YOU, and not the other person? Is that your only point here?

Would that be consistent, or would there be times where the other party should be moved and not you?

Bad Lieutenant said...

readering said...
Kinda surprised El Al doesn't have a way to allow men to select seats with other men when they book. Computers and the internet and stuff.


That's not the dumbest thing you've ever said.

readering said...

Me I would readily change seats. Just get the damn plane to take off on time!

n.n said...

It's an orientation. Why is the NYT so judgmental?

It's not like they're forcing integration of men and women, boys and girls, adolescent and prepubescent, in the commode or Water Closet.

Mary Beth said...

Also, it's not just inadvertent physical contact, as much as I like thinking that I'm so damn sexy that brushing my arm might ignite naughty thoughts. My husband has been in his company's booth at trade shows and had Hasidic men come ask questions about their company and refuse to talk to the woman who is actually the expert. They directed their questions at him, then he turned to his female coworker who had the answers and repeated what they said verbatim, then reversed it when she answered. Come the hell on.

Once upon a time in the long-ago past, I managed a Radio Shack. A few customers did this, asking my (male) part-time employee the questions while ignoring me. He and I would do the same kind of question relay, even when he knew the answers, just because it was so silly. (No religious reasons, AFIK, just Kentucky bubba reasons.)

Richard said...

Dear Laslo, Your 0837...I laughed my ass off! And I cried, big thanks.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

I take it that if you sat next to someone objectionable - say they smelled or wore the wrong party button or the like - that you would ask the stewardess to move YOU, and not the other person? Is that your only point here?

Would that be consistent, or would there be times where the other party should be moved and not you?


Yes, 100%. I never have the right to ask that someone else be removed from my proximity because some aspect of them bothers me in a way that is not in violation of the law or the policies of the space we are in. Certainly not because of that person's gender. If I have an irrational fear of men, I don't get to ask you to get out of "my" subway car. If I'm a teetotaler and your alcohol breath offends me, I don't get to make you leave the party we were both invited to. I can, however, get my sister to pick me up instead of taking the subway, or I can find someone else with less stinky breath to talk to at the party.

John Constantius said...

I'm with the Pantsless One on this. I don't understand why the airline was asking the woman to move as opposed to the ultra-Orthodox man who refused to sit next to her.

If you sit down and see there's a woman next to you, and your religion doesn't accept that - then *you* have to move. "Excuse me, stewardess, could I try to find a seat elsewhere, next to a male?"

You absolutely don't ask your female seat-mate to move. This is your problem, not hers. And if you can't find a seat next to a male, then I guess you get your ass off the plane and maybe you take a chance the next flight doesn't have so many damn women.

The Cracker Emcee said...


""Second-class citizen". Orthodox Jewish law is perfectly symmetrical on this topic, and women are as forbidden to touch men not their husbands as men are forbidden to touch women. But you are translating their beliefs into your own picture."

Pants isn't an Orthodox Jew. This isn't remotely difficult. Your inference of anti-Semitism fails the simplest application of Logic.

Chris said...

I'm another one that agrees with misplaced, bigly.
Let the person that wants the move be the one to move. I don't understand why people are even arguing the point.

James K said...

I agree that the person who wants the switch should be the one to move, but that is still going to involve asking someone else, assuming the plane is full. What I was objecting to was equating "ask" with "demand." I've been asked numerous times if I would switch seats for one reason or another (usually so family members can sit together), but no one has ever demanded it (even on United :)), and I've felt free to say "No."