Monday, April 07, 2008

The Right Way And The Wrong Way

Last week, a disturbance occurred on board an El Al flight going from Tel Aviv to Uman, Ukraine. The problem began when the flight crew began to bring the movie screens down in order to show an in-flight movie. Several Chareidi men on the plane began to go wild, shouting and physically trying to prevent the screens from unfolding.

As the story goes, some of them were promised when they booked the flight that there would be no in-flight movie. I'm not sure how the airline could promise such a thing to some customers and not to all, but let's put that aside for the moment and assume that there was a bona fide promise. It still seems to me that rioting, shouting and physically interfereing with the equipment is not the best way to handle the situation (and, in fact, given the nature of air travel today, is a completely unacceptable way to handle it). If it were me (and, of course, assuming that I was careful not to watch movies and had been promised that no movies would be shown), this is how I would have handled it.

When the announcement of the movie was made, I would have brought it to the attention of the flight crew that a promise was made that there would be no in-flight movie. I would make my case forcefully and strongly... but respectfully. If that did the job, all well. If not, I would reiterate it, along with a threat to take the matter up with her superiors once the plane lands. I'd also make it clear that I plan to publicize the breach of contract on the airline's part to every news outlet and religious community that I could reach out to. But at no point would I become violent. At no point would I start shouting. And at no point would I attempt to interfere with the operation of the plane (including the movie equipment). If I fail in all my attempts on the plane to stop the movie, then that's it -- there is not much more to be done on the flight. I'd simply advise the crew again that I will be filing a formal complaint and simply sit down and not watch the movie. Of course, once we landed, I would take up the matter with the airline and proceed from there.

One commentator on Yeshiva World actually wants El Al to apologize to the Chareidim for putting them at risk of being shot by an air marshal! I don't know what the commentator is smoking, but my personal view is that if one of them were shot by an air marshal while rioting, it would largely be his own fault, not the fault of the airline. There is nothing that says that a person is required to riot to prevent a movie from being seen.

That being said, however, I think that there is a larger issue here -- the imposition of one's standards on other people. It should be fairly obvious from the story that this flight had a scheduled in-flight movie. As such, I don't see how El Al could promise a group of people that there would be no movie without taking the movie away from the paying customers who were looking forward to a movie on the long flight. By demanding that no movie to be shown, they were simply imposing their standards on people who do not accept them. Of course, El Al can make an accommodation and provide non-movie flights -- but that has to be an economic decision of the airline. Just like I can't *force* American Airlines to provide a kosher meal, no one can *force* El Al to not show movies.

I wonder how it is, however, that one comes to the conclusion that you can even ask a company to change it's policy just for your benefit. For example, this flight had an in-flight movie. While it's one thing to ask if there are any no-movie flights (and, perhaps, to suggest that the airline can make some money if they do institute such flights), I don't see how they can expect the airline to cancel an already-scheduled movie just at the request of one (or a few) passenger(s). After all, other people who have already booked the flight have paid for the right to have an in-flight movie. It's similar to my asking American Airlines to make sure that only kosher food is available on a flight -- not just for me, but for everyone else. Of course, American isn't required to make that accommodation solely for me and I have no right to expect it (and certainly no right to riot when I find out that my Irish neighbor is having a ham sandwich for lunch).

If you're starting to get that feeling of deja vu, it's with good reason. After all, we've been through all this before. Not with airplanes, but with buses in Israel. While it's one thing to have Mehadrin buses, where the genders sit separately, it's far beyond the pale to demand that the gender's sit apart on non-Mehadrin buses. That is another example of one group seeking to impose its standards on a larger population. Personally, I find it disturbing that groups seek to do this. Apparently, they have the idea that their way is THE way and that there is no possibility of anyone else's way possibly being acceptable as well.

Bottom line is this: If El Al promised these people a no-movie flight, then they are owed an apology for the breaking of that promise. But the rioting people also owe an apology to every other passenger on the flight for their rude and crude behavior.

The Wolf

16 comments:

Pesky Settler said...

Here in Israel, the general principle is "s/he who yells the loudest and gestures the most wildly will get their way".

I actually had (American)guests told this concept (the precise words were, "next time push and be more Israeli") when they couldn't get on a bus to where we live on a Friday afternoon. There were no seats available and despite them being there early, the Israelis pushed ahead and got on.

And you've read the newspapers. Rioting gets them what they want. Why should being on an airplane matter?

Tower Air used to have either totally movie free flights or have a section that didn't show the movie... I made the mistake of being seated in that section once. Never again.

G said...

Why, why do you continue to torture yourself by reading the comments on that site?

Half of them don't care what you write and the other half are inciting you on purpose for kicks.

BrooklynWolf said...

Why, why do you continue to torture yourself by reading the comments on that site?

Actually, in this case, there seems to be a substantial portion of the comments on YW that agree with me.

In any event, I've always been of the idea that one must fight ignorance... even if it doesn't want to be taught. :)

The Wolf

-suitepotato- said...

When righteousness becomes self-righteousness, you know it because it is no longer someone holding to a chumra themselves, it is them holding you to it. You have to wonder what the motivation is for people to want to put their control on you, can someone really truly be so holy that they truly care for nothing but your spiritual well being?

I'd say risking the safety of the flight by rioting says that none of these men meet the standard.

Unless of course the movie was Encino Man, in which case they didn't go far enough.

Holy Hyrax said...

Stupid stupid charedim. Honostly, I just don't expect much out of them anymore. If it bothers them so much and have a need for everyone to follow in their policies, they should just create their own airlines.

Nice Jewish Guy said...

Next time, the flight crew should just open the door and invite them to leave. ;)

Holy Hyrax said...

If I were the female flight crew, I would have resorted to the charedim's one weakness. Singing. Their holy neshemot would not be able to stand the kol isha and end up fleeing from the filthy physical bodies and back to heaven where they can learn Torah all day.

Garnel Ironheart said...

It's one thing if it's a charter flight. Quite another if it's public. I mean, the story is fishy because how could El Al have made such a promise in the first place?

At any rate, a customer protests most effectively with his wallet and recommendation. Imagine Chareidim all refusing to fly El Al. That, which is something they're completely in their rights to do, would get the message across far more effectively and with far less hillul Hashem.

Anonymous said...

>>When the announcement of the movie was made, I would have brought it to the attention of the flight crew that a promise was made that there would be no in-flight movie. I would make my case forcefully and strongly... but respectfully. If that did the job, all well. If not, I would reiterate it, along with a threat to take the matter up with her superiors once the plane lands. I'd also make it clear that I plan to publicize the breach of contract on the airline's part to every news outlet and religious community that I could reach out to.<<

What about just closing your da##ed eyes?

ProfK said...

Highly unlikely that El Al made the promise of no movies to begin with. But whether they did or not does not excuse such poor behavior. Apparently mentchlichkeit is not attached to these hareidim's genes.

Re the comment that all hareidim should just boycott El Al and then the policy of movies will change, and will they stop flying anywhere in the meantime? Doubtful, and I can tell you that Continental and the other airlines aren't going to change their policies or put up with the antics. Agree with the commenter who said just close your eyes.

By the way, if you think this was a bad incident, you should have seen the hareidi who, having gotten the last standby ticket, got on the plane and discovered that he was sitting next to a woman. He was screaming at all of us women that what kind of _____ were we and we should all move to the front of the section and it took almost 45 minutes to get the uproar calmed down so we could finally leave. The funny thing was that a non-Jewish couple on the plane split up their seating so he could finally sit down and when he saw the man had on no kipah, he refused to sit next to him. When the man explained that he wasn't Jewish, the lunatic calmed down a bit. Apparently sitting next to a non-Jew was acceptable. Do they pipe some chemical into the air in hareidi yeshivas that changes their mental makeup?

cipher said...

In any event, I've always been of the idea that one must fight ignorance... even if it doesn't want to be taught.

Wolf, you won't change them. They believe they're absolutely right, and everyone else is absolutely wrong. It's a form of addiction, and it's analogous to trying to take liquor away from an alcoholic. They'll react like cornered animals.

And because they're absolutely right, they have every right to try to impose their standards upon the rest of us - they're doing it for the good of our souls, after all. At the very least, we shouldn't be allowed to taint the purity of their neshamas with our apikorsus.

I really don't understand why the Israeli government and the service sector put up with this. Are they that big a voting block?

Zach Kessin said...

They should be glad that I am not flight crew, I think my response would be "You can sit down and shut up or be arrested when we land".

people making a ruckus on airline flights can be arrested and charged and to be honest I think they should be

frumsatire said...

The worst part of all of these "charedi outbursts" is that the comments on the yeshiva world news reveal extreme ignorance and stupidity of our brethren- its quite pathetic and scares me that so many people are like blind sheep following the pack over the cliff.

Yaacov David Shulman said...

Thank you, wolfish, for inspiring a heal of mail excoriating hardeidim as a class.

May I inquire what is your intended purpose in presenting this blog, whether that intended purpose is being met, and also: are there unintended and undesired results, and if so, what are they, and how are you dealing with them?

Yaacov David Shulman said...

That should be "heap of chareidm," and, let me make it clear, that "thanks" was tongue-in-cheek.

Yaacov David Shulman said...

Oh, forget it--that should be "heap of mail"