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El Al disciplines pilot who criticized judicial reform in flight

Doron Ginzburg will receive an official letter of reprimand from the company.

An El Al Boeing 737-900 plane. Credit: Nicky Boogaard via Wikimedia Commons.
An El Al Boeing 737-900 plane. Credit: Nicky Boogaard via Wikimedia Commons.

El Al will discipline a pilot who spoke out against the Israeli government’s proposed judicial reforms during an April 18 flight to New York, Hebrew media reported on Sunday.

The pilot, Doron Ginzburg, said over the flight intercom system on Holocaust Remembrance Day that “things like Holocausts are potentially to be occurring in dictatorships, and we are fighting in Israel to remain a democratic country.”

Ginzburg’s punishment will include an official letter of reprimand from the company for expressing his personal opinion without authority. In addition, he will not be permitted to command a plane for a specified time, and thus will not be able to make announcements during flights.

Israel’s national carrier came out against the pilot’s actions at the time he made them, saying, “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,” El Al said.

“This exceptional case, which does not reflect the company’s people and values, will be thoroughly examined by the company’s senior officials,” the carrier added. “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,” they added. “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.”

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