Feb 28, 2016

Ms. Rabinowitz sues El Al over gender discrimination

The big news to make a splash in the news media over the weekend was an item in the New York Times that quickly spread to the Israeli news sites, frum and not frum alike.

The item is about an elderly women, a Holocaust survivor, a retired lawyer, who was flying business class on El Al and was asked by the stewardess on behalf of a fellow passenger to switch seats so that he, a male haredi, would not have to sit next to her.

This basically fell into the lap of the Reform movement and Anat Hoffman who have been looking for a case that involved stewards/stewardesses and not just passengers and they are now suing El Al for discrimination and whatever else they can.

I am not going to analyze and comment on the details of the story and debate whether she had a choice or didn't, was pressured or not, lied to or not, discriminated against or not, whether suing is right or wrong, or anything like that. That has been done ad nauseum all over the social media forums.

What I find more interesting about this, and some other situations that have come up in the recent past, is the situation that we have seen Orthodox people (and this woman describes herself as one) turning to the Reform movement for assistance. For assistance in fighting against other Orthodox people.

The Reform are, of course, more than happy to step into such situations. It is perfect for them, and they cannot lose by doing so. My interest is from the Orthodox perspective. What makes someone Orthodox turn to the Reform movement for help? It seems to me it is because they realize they are in a situation in which they are being ignored and will not get help from their normal venues - their own community, the local Orthodox Rabbi, community leaders, and the like. When a person feels stuck and helpless and pushed aside, they'll eventually go to wherever they will find help, even if it was not their first choice.

I have no idea what process Ms. Rabinowitz went through with her complaints. I don't know if she was told to just put it aside, it is not so important, don't make a big deal out of it or there is nothing you can do about it. I have seen in other situations,  that people were opposed and pushed aside with their issues and requests, and that drove them to those who offered help, even when it was not a natural friend. I do not think it is far fetched to assume that the "protect our own at all costs" attitude, the "silence any issues so they don't become public" approach is what is pushing people away.

In a sense I hope she wins her suit. Not to teach El Al a lesson, or to teach the Haredi community a lesson, or anything like that (though that is important as well), but so that the community leaders will take notice and start to shape up and stop pushing aside complaints and issues they feel uncomfortable dealing with. Sometimes it works, but sometimes the problem do not go away - they just get brought to someone who will make it into an even larger issue.

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1 comment:

  1. Any which way, hopefully, A.Hoffman loses; as she is a sonei Yehudi/Torah! Secondly, think this is just another setup for whatever reason to sue El Al. Our worst enemies always come from within; and there is definitely a plan to transform the Jewish State to anything but Jewish.


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