Renee Rabinowitz, a retired lawyer with a Ph.D. in educational psychology who lives in Jerusalem, has finally had enough with having to deal with sexist rules imposed by Orthodox men. The 81-year-old woman has filed a discrimination lawsuit against Israeli airline El Al after she was allegedly forced to move seats after an Ultra-Orthodox man complained about having to sit next to a woman. As have previously discussed such cases where religious men have forced delays and movement of women without penalty from El Al — requiring everyone else to accommodate their extreme religious views. Even Delta airlines did nothing after ultra orthodox men prevented a flight from taking off until women were moved from the seats that they rightfully purchased.
What is astonishing is that airlines now routinely call police or escort people off planes for disrupting flights. However, if you do so in the name of religious orthodoxy, you are not only not removed but you are allowed to delay the flight until other passengers relent.
To her credit, Rabinowitz is not relenting. She was seated in business class on a flight from Newark to Tel Aviv in December when the man sitting in the window seat objected that she could not sit next to him. Instead, of El Al telling the man that he would have to move or leave the flight, the flight attendant pressured Rabinowitz, who walks with a cane, to take another different seat.
Israel Religious Action Center says that El Al routinely yields to the sexist demands of Ultra-Orthodox men. Rabinowitz escaped the Nazis in World War II, but say that she now faces constant discrimination as a woman.
What is interesting is that some Muslim airlines have been rightfully forced to cancel flights due to their discrimination against Israelis. However, El Al has been accused of discriminating against women when ultra Orthodox men demand that they be moved. Even holding flights as these women are pressured publicly to surrender their seats is unreasonable and abusive. Obviously, these men have the option to travel with other men and purchase seats together. Or, and here is a novel idea, they can refrain from flying. Those seem better options than to have female passengers on El Al worry whether they will be pressured to move to accommodate an extreme religious practice. Rabinowitz is someone who has overcome much in her life. Indeed, she is the very face of the strength and brilliance of the founding generation of Israel. She should have to move for no one.
I have no problem with the airline asking if any passengers would consider moving. I often give up my seat so couples can sit together. Indeed, I expect a woman in coach would be willing to take the business class seat of this man to allow him to sit next to a fellow man. Yet, many women would rightfully have qualms about surrendering their seat to facilitate a sexist and insulting practice. After making the inquiry once, the man has to accept modern life or get off the plane. That seems a reasonable approach that continually escapes El Al, which has been repeatedly criticized for its treatment of women.