I don’t use the term “misogynist” lightly, because to me it means “someone who hates women,” not simply “a sexist.” But what else can one call a group of orthodox Jews who won’t sit next to women on planes for fear they’ll be polluted?
This has happened three times in the last couple of months. First, in September, a group of Orthodox Jewish males caused an eleven-hour delay on an El Al flight from New York to Tel Aviv because they wouldn’t take their assigned seats next to women. As the Independent reported then:
. . . the flight did not take off on time, according to Shalom Life, after a group of Haredi Jewish passengers refused to sit next to women, believing that men and women should be segregated.
“People stood in the aisles and refused to go forward,” a passenger on board the flight, Amit Ben-Natan, told the publication.
“Although everyone had tickets with seat numbers that they purchased in advance, they asked us to trade seats with them, and even offered to pay money, since they cannot sit next to a woman. It was obvious that the plane won’t take off as long as they’re standing in the aisles,” he said.
The Haredi passengers agreed to sit in their assigned seats for take-off, but one passenger described the overall experience as an “11-hour long nightmare,” referring to the difficulty before take-off and the ensuing disturbances on board, caused by the Haredi passengers “jumping out” of their seats when the fasten-seatbelt sign was switched off.
Then on December 20, a Delta flight on the same route experienced the same trouble, though this time the flight was delayed by only half an hour. The Independent reports again:
“Blessed are you, Lord, our God, ruler of the universe who has not created me a woman.”
As the article notes, Orthodox apologists argue that this phrase merely shows gratitude that males have the privilege of performing more religious rituals, but it comes across as intolerant and sexist. And why would only men have that privilege? My own version of the prayer is “Blessed are you, O Ceiling Cat, who has not created me an Orthodox Jew.”