Israel Bans Airport Ads Calling Out Gender Discrimination On Planes

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Women have been frequently asked to move seats, if a male passenger refuses to sit next to them due to his religious beliefs.

 

Israeli airport authorities banned the display of ads that remind women to stay put on their airplane seats if ultra-Orthodox Jewish men refuse to sit next to them.

The Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) had planned to display the billboards displaying the ads at Ben Gurion airport, near Tel Aviv.

IRAC’s ad campaign was based on a court ruling when an 82-year old Holocaust survivor, Renee Rabinowitz, sued Israel’s national airline, El Al, for discriminatory behavior towards women. The flight crew asked her to mover her seat when an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man refused to sit next to her. The court ruled in Rabinowitz’s favor.

The judge’s ruling on the case read, “Under absolutely no circumstances can a crew member ask a passenger to move from their designated seat because the adjacent passenger doesn’t want to sit next to them due to their gender."

El Al was given a 45-day notice to amend its policies and pay a compensatory amount to Rabinowitz but she was not the only victim of gender discrimination on Israeli airlines. Women have been frequently asked to move seats, if a male passenger refuses to sit next to them due to his religious beliefs.

IRAC’s ad campaign billboard read “Ladies, please take your seat … and keep it!” reminding women it is illegal for cabin crew to ask them to move to another seat based on the personal preference of another passenger.

IRAC, which is also associated with the Movement for Reform Judaism, said they had reached an agreement for the ads when they were turned down because the airport authorities deemed the ad “political or decisive.”

Anat Hoffman, executive director of the organization, believes the ad is neither political nor decisive since it merely seeks to inform female passengers of their rights.

“Since the ruling, we believe it’s still happening. Women are still not sure whether it’s kosher or not kosher. The dynamic is that a Haredi [ultra-Orthodox] man refuses to take his seat, then other passengers, instead of telling him to sit down, focus on the woman, saying, ‘Why don’t you just move, so the plane can take off?, '” she said.

She continued the act was not only illegal but “discriminatory and dehumanizing.”

“If the airports authority won’t allow our billboards, we will ask them to make their own ads telling people of their policies. And if they don’t do that, we may have to sue them,” she added.

Gender discrimination on public transport has been reported various times in Israel. In 2011, Israel’s high court passed the order that banned segregation on public buses. Despite the official ruling, separate lawsuits had to be filed against 13 drivers before the bus companies started enforcing the law.

“After we won that case, we still had to bring 13 lawsuits against individual drivers. We won 13 times, then the bus companies started enforcing their policies,” Hoffman said.

Thumbnail/ Banner Credits: REUTERS/Amir Cohen

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