The captain of an El Al flight from Tel Aviv to New York on Tuesday was recorded telling passengers in an announcement that “things like Holocausts are potentially to be occurring in dictatorships, and we are fighting in Israel to remain a democratic country.”
He made the remarks as Israelis were participating in annual Holocaust Remembrance Day activities, a temporary respite from the fierce debates taking place over the government’s judicial reform initiative and the direction of the country.
Israel’s national carrier immediately responded to the incident with a statement saying that “the company condemns political statements of any kind, by any of its employees as part of their work, and certainly not on its planes, which cannot be a platform for this type of activity.
“The company orders that it be avoided, especially on such a sensitive and significant day for the people of Israel.
“This exceptional case, which does not reflect the company’s people and values, will be thoroughly examined by the company’s senior officials. El Al is the airline that carries the Israeli flag on the tail of its planes, and as such reflects the entire Israeli mosaic.”
A senior official in Israel’s Transportation Ministry said that Minister Miri Regev was furious about the incident and spoke with El Al management about taking action.
“Time after time, pilots act as if they are the owners of the business,” the official said.
“This situation cannot continue. Something bad is happening here and after the minister spoke with the airline’s management, she expects that the management will act in accordance with their words and respect the fact that they are the national carrier. Perhaps the air routes are clear but apparently the direction the airline itself is taking is leading to disaster.”