Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Jews Love: El Al

Israel has strikes fairly often, as demonstrated by Harry of The View From Here's post about the end of the garbage collection strike. Now, to be fair, I am in full support of strikes when they are warranted. In the case of the El Al strike, some of the employees had not been paid for five months. That is absurd. I don't know about you, but I don't have enough saved up to get me through five months salary-free. At any rate, after the strike ended, El Al chose to run some flights on Shabbat ( it is generally a shomer shabbat* organization) to try to catch up.

Shlomah Shamos of Voz Iz Neias has a summary of the boycott and includes some quotes from El Al. Yeshiva World reports on the growing Charedi boycott that has occured in response to El Al's desecration of the holy Sabbath. Apparently some 25% of El Al's passengers are Charedi, so this represents quite the issue for them. Harry Maryles of Emes v'Emunah responds, he says: "Well, I guess we can rest easy now. The honor of Shmiras Shabbos has been upheld. The rabbinic leadership in Israel has decided to boycott El-Al. Again. Why? Because they departed from their policy of Shmiras Shabbos one time." Dan the Unsure of This Other Country used the boycott as a jumping off point to talk about the disproportionate political power that Charedim exercise in Israel.

On the other hand, Michael Eisenberg of Six Kids and a Full Time Job says that he "do[es] not support El Al's decision to fly on shabbat... it was both insensitive and a poor business decision given the purchasing power of Sabbath-observant Jews and Israelis and their loyalty to El Al." Bluke of The Jewish Worker agrees with Eisenberg, saying that "El Al is a business and if they want the Charedi public's money they have to take care of them as customers. El Al understood the consequences of flying on Shabbos and now they have to deal with it. This is a perfectly legitimate consumer decision and has nothing to do with religious coercion." Reb Chaim HaQoton seems to agree that the Charedim's position is reasonable, but he has another take on it. When the Charedi authorities are declaring that one should not fly due to perkuach nefesh (to preserve life) not because G-d will "crash El Al planes" but instead because flying is inherently dangerous.

Shmuel Katz of Aliyah Chronicles points out that "this [contrversy] can't be good for Israel or the Jewish people," that El Al allowed anyone who wanted to reschedule their flights so as to avoid travelling on the sabbath, and lastly that "it seems to be an Israeli business maxim to do whatever you want first and then apologize (as offensively as you can) later."

And last, but not least, DovBear posts about the proposed new Charedi airlines, and what they will look like. My favorite touch is the distribution of bedikah cloths** to married women.

*Shomer Shabbat means Sabbath observant, this can take a number of different forms, depending on your personal ideology, and the movement to which you ascribe. Traditionally observant people often refrain from using electricity, transacting business, cooking, working, and most relevant in this case, travelling.

**Bedikah cloths: if you don't know exactly what these are, I am not going to tell you. Lets just say that they are integral to some people's observance of the laws of family purity.

*** One of the posts uses the word "chiloni" which means secular. I just can't remember which.


Anonymous said...

I for one am looking forward to a haredi free flight on El Al. But let's be realistic for a second, the haredim have no other shomer shabbat airline available, and a mehadrin airline won't be finacially viable, so at the end of the day they'll have to come back to El Al.

Anonymous said...

I have a relative that flew in from Israel last night. They said that their El Al flight was packed to the gills with charedim.

Boycott indeed.

Anonymous said...

I just don't understand why the Charedim don't simply avoid traveling on Shabbos! There are lots of secular Israelis too. Jee whiz man, can't we all get along?