12/6/06

Frum Mull El Al Boycott and Ban

Frum Jews are reacting to two recent actions by El Al: they flew on Shabbat and they served non-kosher food. Haaretz reports that Israeli rabbis are deciding whether to decree a ban against the airline.

We must compliment the great negotiation skills on both sides of this issue. Keep up the comity and understanding.

Haaretz:

...it is doubtful that these events will give rise to an organized ultra-Orthodox boycott of El Al. The rabbinic committee on matters pertaining to Shabbat, a forum that includes all central streams of ultra-Orthodox Judaism, met again, Monday, to consider its response to El Al's actions.

Some time this week, they are expected to formulate an announcement to be signed by rabbis of all ultra-Orthodox sectors.

Ultra-Orthodox powerbrokers, who met Monday with Israir representatives, said that the domestic carrier is prepared to cease flying on the Sabbath if the community makes increased use of its services.

In regard to negotiations with Israir, Shabbat committee chairman Rabbi Yitzhak Goldknopf, told Haaretz, "We were in contact with them in the past, but we didn't take it seriously because we were committed to El Al. After El Al breached our trust, we consider ourselves free of any obligation."

The non-organized boycott began to expand even before leading rabbis came out with statements against the airline. The committee announced it was preparing to announce "harsh steps." An official boycott could deal a fatal blow to El Al as it would obligate not only ultra-Orthodox travelers from Israel, but also tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox travelers from abroad. The rabbis of the national religious stream would also be expected to join the decision.

El Al CEO Haim Romano called the committee of rabbis for a meeting but was rebuffed Monday night.

Romano told Haaretz Monday he did not believe a decision to boycott El Al would pass. "El Al is sensitive to the needs of the ultra-Orthodox public and will, therefore, avoid changing its policy by flying on Shabbat, except in extraordinary cases, like those which took place last weekend. We are convinced that the entire public understands the circumstances and respects El Al's loyalty to its clientele."

El Al CEO Haim Romano however said Monday that he does not rule out the option of conducting flights on the Sabbath under specific circumstances. "One must remember that the airport operates seven days a week," he said, "and I expect the religious community to accommodate us as we have accommodated them over the years."

Ultra-Orthodox passengers represent 20-30 percent of the clientele on El Al flights.

1 comment:

Bryce said...

This article makes it sound like the only people upset at El Al are the "Ultra" Orthodox. Why aren't "plain ol'" Orthodox and other Sabbath-caring Jews mentioned at all?