(November 27, 2018 / JNS) Just three weeks ago, we were in a state of war. The south was pummeled by hundreds of rockets, until the next day, when a ceasefire was reached.
The day after that, it was on to the next story.
It’s no secret that in the crazy world in which we live, media stories have a shelf life of at most two days. But an El Al flight from New York to Tel Aviv has managed to remain in the headlines for more than a week-and-a-half—and not just because the airline refused to apologize to the haredi passengers they portrayed as violent in an incident that turned out to be nothing more than fake news.
El Al’s apology, if one can call it that, was not exactly refined.
Verbal acrobatics aside, by succumbing to pressure from the haredi sector and issuing an apology, the airline basically admitted the truth. A week-and-a-half after El Al’s vice president went on TV to detail the so-called violence witnessed on the flight and announce that the airline would file a complaint with the police against the offenders, the official statement, awkward and convoluted as it may have been, finally made it clear there had been no violence on the flight. (In fact, it was the passengers who were ready to sue.)
Anyone who witnessed the exemplary behavior of the haredi passengers on that flight could not sit idly by in the face of El Al’s problematic conduct and the company’s accusations that passengers threw punches at flight attendants and a passenger broke into the cockpit.
On Monday, the long-awaited correction to the story finally came.
There is much to learn from the El Al flight affair. In fact, its lessons should be part of courses on communication and media crises, decision-making workshops, and lectures on stigmas and stereotypes in Israeli society.
I will take two main conclusions with me from this incident: We must fight, and we can change. The most obvious conclusion though: Truth is more important than anything, and the truth will always prevail.
Yehuda Shlezinger was on the El Al plane that had to stop in Athens, Greece, for Shabbat before flying to Tel Aviv.