One of Israel’s high-tech giants Nice Systems, with annual revenue over 1 billion dollars, said on Monday it would bar its employees from flying El Al Airlines. The statement said until the carrier ceased its practice of moving women passengers from seats next to ultra-Orthodox men.
The protest came after an El Al flight from New York to Israel was delayed last week for over an hour by four Haredi men that refused to take to their seats after finding they had been placed next to women.
The men insisted the women must be move due to their Ultra-Ortodox beliefs. According to the reports, flight attendants sought to find new seats for the two women. The men also refused to cooperate with the female cabin crew, forcing the male flight attendants to deal with the issue.
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A passenger on the flight, Khen Rotem, wrote on Facebook “At the time the El-Al plane was dealing with matters of practical theology and personal belief against individual rights and civil order.”
He said that one of the man was “particularly devout and ascetic,” having got on the plane with his eyes closed and keeping them shut for the duration of the flight in an apparent effort to avoid looking at any woman on board.
“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 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,’” Rotem wrote.
El Al has been known for cooperating with Haredim and moves women passengers as per of the Orthodox men convenience. And in this case, El Al does not follow the last year Supreme Court rule that El Al cannot make female passengers to change seats.
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.”
Elim added, “NICE will not fly with El Al until they change their practice and actions that are discriminating [against] women.”
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.”
“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.”