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FAKE NEWS: Israeli Media Claims “Violent” Chareidim Forced El Al Flight to Land in Athens on Erev Shabbos

As YWN has been reporting, two El Al flights from NY to Israel were heavily delayed on Erev Shabbos to due to the Thursday night snowstorm in New York City. Flights 008 and 002 from New York to Tel Aviv, departed with a scheduled landing on Shabbos.

Flight 002 landed in Athens before Shabbos, where passengers were put up by El Al in a hotel, and the local Chabad hosting and catering over 120 passengers for Shabbos.

Flight 008 also departed late, but it was a flight that to begin with was supposed to land at around 3:40PM on Friday (Shekiya was approximately 4:40PM in Tel Aviv) and thus carrying little if any Shomer Shabbos passengers. Regardless, the plane was going to land in Rome for Shabbos in line with El Al’s policy of not landing in Tel Aviv on Shabbos. However, due to a seriously ill person on board a Shayla was presented to Rishon L’Tzion HaGaon HaRav Yitzchak Yosef Shlita, who ruled that the plane should continue to Israel, and land on Shabbos due to Pikuach Nefesh.

Meanwhile, the Israeli media is full of fake news, blaming Chareidim for the flight landing in Athens, with some even claiming that they “were violent”.

[FAKE NEWS EXPOSED: Watch How Channel 10 Changed Video of SINGING El Al Passengers to “SCREAMING”]

Once again, an opportunity for ‘chareidi bashing’ does not get passed up, and prominent news agencies painted a most distasteful picture of what occurred.

A KAN 11 News report stated Chareidim were unruly, shouting, cursing and even pushed and shoved members of the El Al cabin crew, creating a chaotic situation.

Prominent Israeli news correspondent Yehuda Schlesinger was among those on the flight, a person who is not chareidi or frum, and he describes what he saw, a far cry from the ‘fake news’ reports:

He speaks from Athens and explains for one thing, the cabin crew was clueless to events on the ground as they anxiously awaited to take off for Israel, and El Al did not keep passengers in the loop, “yet there was no uprising and I documented everything….I saw when chareidim insisted on knowing what was going on, and this too was not violent. The only ‘uprising’ was when the chareidim gathered together and sang songs. The one time there was concern was two hours before the flight taking off and we were told we would arrive two hours before Shabbos. Then, we were told we would land in Athens” – this video ends. However, Schlesinger dispels the lies of how “once again chareidim rioted on an El Al flight”.

A letter published by YWN on Motzei Shabbos, written by a Frum passenger on the flight,Ben Chafetz of Cleveland, describes the atmosphere during the special Shabbos in Athens and how the stranded passengers really acted amid the realization they would have to make do with whatever they were given.

Chafetz also claimed the flight crew arrived late to the flight, adding to their delayed departure from New York.

Back in July 2018, YWN also reported that despite reports to the contrary, even El Al admitted delays on a flight from JFK to Ben-Gurion were not the result of a chareidi passenger refusing to be seated next to a woman as reported, but because of a delay in the positioning of the plane on the runway. The El Al statements read; “The details reported on the subject were inaccurate to say the least. In reality, the delay was not related to the event that was publicized. There was a delay in the move of the plane to the takeoff runway of an hour without any connection to the incident,” referring to earlier reports that chareidi passengers caused a flight delay after insisting on moving seats away from a woman.

Once again, the fake anti-chareidi news was dispelled, but there are those who do not hesitate to repeat the same anti-chareidi mantra whenever an opportunity arises.

To end on a positive note, there are reports, albeit yet unconfirmed, that $15,000 was raised in Athens over Shabbos by auctioning the aliyos and that money is going to be donated to build a Mikvah in Athens.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)

18 Responses

  1. Sorry, not impressed. Groise Tzaddikim – travelling close to Shabbos and then being generous for a Mikva.
    With or without violence they should have disembarked before take off! And ELAL have no excuse for not offering this option.

  2. @DavidtheKanoi

    You are not a civil aviation law expert.
    El Al may not have had the ability to return to a gate and discharge passengers who were concerned about violating Shabbos.
    Homeland security would not allow the plane to continue with baggage whose owners were not on the flight.
    ALL passengers would have to deplane, all baggage unloaded and matched with owners and then continuing passengers and baggage reloaded.
    Gate, secure transit lounges, security, etc. mat not have been available for such an operation,

    This would not be an excuse as you propose, but a situation beyond the control of the airline.

  3. Baruch HaShem for clarifying the Truth in this situation. It is a blessing to hear that our Jewish people did not act like Goyim on that flight. I pray from this time forward our Frum Brothers and Sisters will consider the weather and make arrangements to fly on other days of the week other than on or near the Sabbath. It looks like this is going to be a cold winter with much snowy weather and flight delays… So use good judgement when booking your flights to Israel. Thank you for giving us all the Truth. Shalom

  4. Yes, I read the story: The plane was delayed for 5hrs 15 minutes! Enough time to disembark or not to go onto the plane in the first place. If a passenger would have refused to sit down next to a lady they would surely got him off the plane quick enough.

  5. No, you clearly did not read the story. When the delay stretched to five hours the passengers did indeed demand to be let off the plane. The pilot promised to do so and instead took off. What could they possibly have done about that?

  6. DavidtheKanoi Some people work in the U.S. and go home for Shabbos they can’t leave N.Y. before Thursday night. Also some people will go to Israel for Shabbos and they can’t leave earlier because they have jobs etc. And why put down the
    beautiful mitzvah of raising money towards building a mikvah and it was a show of hakoras hatov to the Shluchim that arranged this beautiful Shabbos. (as described in Ben Chafetz’s article)

  7. DavidtheKanoi to your comment “enough time to disembark – If a passenger would have refused to sit down next to a lady they would surely got him off the plane quick enough.”; perhaps they could have all done that, but the whole point of the story is that they did things in a way of kidush Hashem and not the opposite albeit some secular media is portraying it otherwise.

  8. I don’t know where the fact that the pilot lied and refused to let frum passengers off the plane was published, as I could not find it on YWN. Now this has come to light obviously my anger is only directed at ELAL and I must apologize for being don-lekaf chov. However I still wonder did passengers actually board the plane?
    The lesson however is still the same – don’t take chances with late Friday travel especially in winter! It’s not the 1st and not the last time that people get stranded and possible find themselves in a situation of chilul shabbos in order to get out of danger.

  9. @It is time for truth
    The fact That El Al signed something years ago doesn’t mean they controlled the situation at the airport. That was the point I was making
    Although the major part pf my practice is family law, I received an award in Aviation Law and do some work in that specialized field. Ever since 9/11/2001….Homeland Security and TSA call the shots at American airports and airlines can not just do want they want. This is especially true of foreign flagged carriers who do not own their own terminals at JFK.

  10. To Keliliah: You say ” It is a blessing to hear that our Jewish people did not act like Goyim on that flight” ….. What a stupid and parochial comment. I fly frequently on business and have also flown EL Al numerous times. In general, most flights operate reasonably close to schedule and when there are weather-related delays, most passengers seem to take it in stride. I don’t find the “goyishe” passengers to be any more disruptive than our fellow yidden and I’d speculate that there may actually be more pre-flight chaos on El Al flights (even during weekdays) than on most other international carriers I fly. Don’t make such stupid comparisons if you don’t have any basis for your racist comment.

  11. “Once again, an opportunity for ‘chareidi bashing’ does not get passed up…”
    You mean there can be false reporting when it comes to the Chareidim? I’m shocked! Even though the official media is reporting it, it’s not true?!?
    To ALL who engage in (occasional) Chareidi bashing: “let your ears hear what your mouth / keyboard is uttering. Make sure the story is really true before condemning “those (“some”) Chareidim, or the “extremists” members of this or that group, or followers of a certain leader that you may not agree with. Let this incident be a wake-up call for all media outlets.


    Thankyou for informed comments.

    Could you please tell us what our rights are in a situation where one finds oneself on a aircraft which has been delayed and will arrive on Shabbos.

  13. If you read the El Al tariff sheets governing passenger rights and compensation protocols, there is NOTHING that specifically addresses the fact situation here. Maybe El Al, a an airline catering to frum yidden, should have contemplated these events but like most other airlines, El Al’s published tariff say it will follow the rules of the local government where the airport is located as to how long passengers can be held on the runway waiting for take-off clearance. To my knowledge, no airline has rules allowing an individual passenger (or group of passengers) to demand the entire plane return to the gate and lose its takeoff slot because of his/their personal preferences, whether religious, scheduling or health-related. The latter (health issues) is an issue where the tariffs say you are NOT entitled to compensation if the departure is delayed in order to address a health emergency among another passenger, just as you are generally not entitled to compensation for a weather delay.

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