Two Arab-Israeli passengers were removed from a Tel-Aviv bound flight on Monday night after a group of Israelis protested their presence asserting security concerns.
Jewish Israeli passengers delayed an Aegean Airlines flight from Greece for over an hour after “very vocally and persistently” demanding that the two Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem be “checked for security issues.”
“While it is indeed unfortunate that they were possibly racially profiling the customers, indeed their fellow Israelis, safety must be first,” an airline statement read.
Despite the additional security check, an even larger group of 60-70 passengers demanded another security check of the cabin and prevented the flight from taking off by standing up.
The two Arab-Israeli passengers then agreed to disembark the plane in return for a hotel room, transportation and compensation.
“With the agreement of the two [Arab-Israeli] passengers that were affected, for which we are very thankful, we offered them overnight stay and transport the next day,” the airline spokesperson said.
“We thank again the two passengers that agreed to disembark for their understanding and collaboration and we apologize for the whole episode which was indeed extremely unfortunate.”
Instead of thanking these passengers for their humble “understanding” of others’ blatant racism, the airline should be apologizing for catering to irrational demands of bigots.
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Officials immediately condemned the incident and pinned the blame on Netanyahu’s government framing of Palestinians and Israeli-Arabs as terrorists.
"The prime minister and his ministers sow fear and hate through slander and incitement, and this is the result,” Knesset Member Michal Rozin said. “The government must understand that marking Israeli-Arab citizens as potential terrorists leads to the loss of morals and values that endangers our future as a society.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s response to the growing violence between Israelis and Palestinians has only furthered the divide between the two groups instead of inciting unity.
After an Israeli-Arab citizen fired his automatic rifle into a bar and killed two people, Netanyahu visited the scene of the murder and blamed the Arab community for the attacks.
“We all know that there is wild incitement of radical Islam against the State of Israel within the Muslim sector,” he said. "Whoever wants to be Israeli must be Israeli all the way."
"I will not accept two states within Israel," Netanyahu continued. "There are enclaves without law enforcement, with Islamist propaganda, with plenty of weapons often fired during wedding celebrations, with constant crime."
Painting Muslims and Arabs as reckless vigilantes only further escalates the raw tension between Israeli Jews and Arabs, instead of formulating combative solutions to prevent the violence that comes from both sides.
While the racist Israeli passengers and airline are not absolved of their actions, the fear-induced sentiment becomes more readily clear when it stems from a society and a government consistently indoctrinating xenophobia into its people.
Banner image credit: Wikimedia Commons user FoxyOrange