Israeli Court Knocks El Al For Gender Discrimination

el al plane photo

In a case that almost didn’t get brought to court, Israel’s national airline, El Al, has been convicted of gender discrimination when a woman was asked to take a different seat because an ultra-orthodox man didn’t want to sit next to her.

That once-common practice, which caters to a whim of someone from a sect with otherworldly-strict beliefs, was brought down by a suit filed by a holocaust survivor who originally intended to ignore the affront. But a couple of weeks after her flight from Newark to Tel Aviv was marred by the incident, Renee Rabinowitz, 81, attended an event where a representative of the Israel Religious Action Center discussed IRAC’s campaign against airlines’ practice of accommodating what Rabinowitz described as “a Haredi-looking [ultra orthodox] gentleman”. Such individuals are members of a group representing the social and cultural interests of fervently religious Jews. Created in response to escalating assimilation and secularization within worldwide Jewry, they aim to preserve and maintain Torah-bound Judaism, both on the individual and collective level.

But in refusing to sit next to a woman on, for example, an airplane, “a passenger asking to move their seat because of their gender will qualify as discrimination, and as such will be prohibited,” the Israeli court said in an English-language statement.

More specifically, The Jerusalem Post reported, “Requesting a seat change on an airplane before or after takeoff, based on a passenger’s gender, constitutes a breach of the Prohibition of Discrimination in Products, [Services and Entry into Public Places Law],” ruled Judge Dana Cohen-Lekach of the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court.

The JP website added, “The phenomenon of ultra-Orthodox men insisting on not sitting next to unrelated women on air flights has developed into a familiar pattern in recent years, with such demands frequently causing problems and delays for airlines due to the refusal of such men to take their seats before takeoff.”

El Al has said it will take the ruling seriously, and the airline is expected to modify its rules and retrain flight attendants within the 45-day period specified by the court.

The Guardian quoted the airline as saying, “The sides reached an agreement that the airline’s procedures would be clarified to its employees. The court validated this agreement and the company will respect the verdict.”


Significant Roman Inscription Found On Mediterranean Rock Off Israel


A large rock discovered on the Mediterranean seabed off Israel earlier this year has on its surface a 1,900-year old inscription naming a Roman ruler of Judea whose identity was unknown to modern researchers. The inscription bears the name Gargilius Antiques and mentioning the province of Judea, The Times of Israel reported yesterday (Dec. 1).

The paper said that archaeologists have been able to determine that Antiques ruled over the Judean province before the 132-136 A.D. Bar Kochba (or Kockba) Revolt of Jews against the Romans. Also known as the Third Jewish-Roman War, or the Third Jewish Revolt, this one was finally put down by a massive Roman force led by Sextus Julius Severrus, Wikipedia says.

The rock hearing Antiques’ name was discovered by Jewish divers working with the University of Haifa. Believed to be the base of a statue, the rock was found last January during a maritime excavation at the Tel Dor archaeological site. The city of Tel Dor was an important Roman port that was active until at least the 4th century, The Times said.

The rock, measuring 70 by 65 centimeters and weighing over 600 kilograms, was covered in sea creatures when it was discovered, according to Haaretz.

Not only were we able for the first time to identify with certainty the name of the ruler who oversaw Judea in the critical years the Bar Kochba revolt; this is also just the second time that the mention of Judea has been discovered in inscriptions traced back to Roman era,” said Prof. Assaf Yasur-Landau of Haifa University, who was in charge of deciphering the text.

Antiques’s name was first found in an inscription some 70 years ago, but mention of the territory he ruled over was not preserved.

At seven lines, the text discovered this year, Yasur-Landau said, “is the longest discovered in maritime excavations in Israel.”

It is missing a portion but is believed to read: “The City of Dor honors Marcus Paccius, son of Publius, Silvanus Quintus Coredius Gallus Gargilius Antiquus, governor of the province of Judea, as well as […] of the province of Syria, and patron of the city of Dor.”

3,800-Year-Old ‘Thinker’ Preceded Rodin by 3.5+ Millennium


A picture taken on November 23, 2016 shows a 3,800-year-old jug from the Middle Bronze Age, featuring a human sculpture, displayed at the Israel Antiquities Authority lab in Jerusalem after it was unearthed during an archaeological excavation ahead of the construction of new buildings in Yehud. (AFP PHOTO / MENAHEM KAHANA)

‘The Thinker’, a sculpture conceived by Auguste Rodin in the 1880’s, has long been recognized – virtually since Rodin’s first sculpture with that name was unveiled in 1904 – as a striking work of art and as a symbol for the study of philosophy. But The Times of Israel recently reported that a much earlier ‘thinker’, from the Middle Bronze Age (about 3,800 years ago), has been discovered in Israel.

Now on display at the Israel Antiquities Authority lab in Jerusalem, this hardly-new ‘thinker’ is made of clay and is remarkably well preserved for its age.

The unique clay statuette, mounted atop a ceramic vessel, was found in the central Israel town of Yehud by a team of Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologists, who were paired up with high school students in October.

News of the discovery was reported by the IAA last Wednesday (November 23rd).

Gilad Itach, the archaeologist heading the dig, said that on the last day of excavations, just before construction of a building commenced on site, they found the 18-centimeter (seven-inch) tall figurine, along with an assortment of other items.

It seems they first prepared a pot characteristic of the period, and afterwards they added the unique statue, the likes of which have never before been discovered in previous research,” he said. “The level of precision and attention to detail in creating this almost 4,000-year-old sculpture is extremely impressive. The neck of the jug served as a base for forming the upper portion of the figure, after which the arms, legs and a face were added to the sculpture.”


The 3,800 year old jug exposed in the field. (Credit: EYECON Productions, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority)

Archaeologists also found other vessels, as well as daggers, arrowheads, and ax head, as well as the bones of sheep and what may be ass bones. Itach suggested the items were funerary objects for a prominent member of the Canaanite community.

It was customary in antiquity to believe that the objects that were interred alongside the individual continued with him into the next world,” he said in a statement. “To the best of my knowledge such a rich funerary assemblage that also includes such a unique pottery vessel has never before been discovered in the country.”

One can see that the face of the figure seems to be resting on its hand as if in a state of reflection,” Itach added, “It is unclear if the figure was made by the potter who prepared the jug or by another craftsman.”

In addition to the Bronze Age finds, researchers involved in the salvage dig discovered 6,000-year-old remains from the Chalcolithic period, including a circular stone installation that may have served as an ancient well, as well as fragments of a ceramic butter churn from the same period.

Earlier this year, archaeologists operating in Yehud, not far from the statue’s discovery, found a Middle Bronze Age necropolis containing 94 pit graves containing men, women and children along with funerary offerings including pots, daggers and pins, scarabs, animal bones and jewelry. The site continued to be used as a burial ground for centuries thereafter.