New York – Port Authority Rejects Ad Encouraging Women Not To Switch Seats To Accommodate Orthodox Male Flyers

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    New York – It was a colorful billboard intended to advise women flying from Newark International Airport during the busy holiday season that no one could force them to change their seat to accommodate the religious preferences of male passengers.

    But the advertisement, designed to be hung on the walls of El Al’s passenger lounge, was nixed by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, who deemed it inconsistent with agency guidelines.

    Featuring two adjoining airline seats, with a pair of red and white ladies shoes on the floor in front of one of the chairs while a black hat occupies the other, the advertisement bears the words “Ladies, please take your seat… …and keep it!”

    The billboard, which also contained a reminder that gender-based switches are against the law, was created by the Israel Religious Action Center, a progressive Jewish organization that defends the freedoms of Reform and Conservative Jews and opposes gender segregation in public areas.

    According to The New York Times, IRAC resolved to post the advertisement in time for Rosh Hashana after a Chasidic man tried to switch his seat on a Turkish Airlines flight from Istanbul to Tel Aviv last year to avoid sitting next to a woman.

    However, the Port Authority rejected the billboard on the grounds that it violated two agency guidelines: a requirement that display ads promote only products or services and another that bans any political or religious content.

    A civil rights attorney hired by IRAC informed the Port Authority of legal precedents set in two other cases, where agencies that failed to approve ads that could be seen as public service announcements were found to be in violation of the First Amendment. The Port Authority has agreed to review its guidelines in relation to the IRAC display.

    According to IRAC’s newsletter, The Pluralist, the group has been tracking incidents of this nature since November 2014.

    A list of guidelines published by IRAC in January 2015 criticizes airlines for their policy of resolving “requests for gender-segregated seating in a quiet and expedited manner that may not be in the best interest of female passengers.”

    The guidelines also advise female passengers not feel pressured to accommodate seat change requests, saying that they are not responsible for any flight delays that may occur if they refuse to move to a different seat.

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    26 COMMENTS

    1. If they don’t want people to have to change seats based on gender, it should apply equally to men. And the person who has the problem should be the one to change.

    2. Isnt elal a jewish airline? Why cant thay make 1 side men & 1 side women (& middle for family’s) like the jewish buses here in NY or in Jerusalem are designed?
      I guess elal is not jewish.

    3. The problem is squarely on the males who create a shanda on airplanes because they can’t control their yetzer hara. If it is that bad, they should not fly period. For others, let them buy two seats or fly first class. To try to force others who reserved their seats months ago because for medical reasons they need aisle seats to move is a not right.

    4. I usually try to get an aisle seat and am not willing to change that. If a man wouldn’t want to sit next to me (I’m a woman), then he could change if another woman is willing. Last time I traveled I was asked to change with a woman for another seat so she could sit next to someone in particular so I agreed as long as I got an aisle seat. I ended up sitting next to a man. It wasn’t the best situation, but I managed.

    5. One thing is a certain. If the ad was about accommodating for a Muslim, the pressure to do so would come from the terror loving White House, that believes that Islam has some sort of connection to peace and morality. I applaud the Port Authority for rejecting this.

      People should be accommodating another’s religious needs. That is menchlich. Perhaps no one can be forced to do it, but the notion to prohibit it is nauseating. That is a perversion of the concepts of human rights.

    6. To be fair, any individual who is obviously Charaidi in appearance is vulnerable to false charges of unlawful sexual contact every time he sits next to a woman on an airplane. Any crime that is alleged to have been perpetrated up in the skies is automatically a federal case, and the pockets of the U.S. attorney run deep indeed. Few people can afford to amount a defense against the government, and a federal judge is nearly god-like in authority; he can never be challenged.

      Are Charaidi men falsely accused of crimes committed on an airplane? Rarely, but it does happen. And woe to any man caught in that spider’;s web.

      I can understand why some Charaidim choose to embarrass themselves in public by asking to be seated next to a man, rather than take any chance that they might be accused of an act, the mere suggestion of which could destroy their lives forever.

    7. so if the seat change is for convinience its ok, bot not for religious reason.Ad who is aginst not gentiles only these rishay isroel the same who lhaches go against keddshas makom mikdash

    8. For years when men asked courteously to be switched seats, most people tolerated that. But after a few recent incidents where a few shmucks refused to sit down, created a scene, and delayed the flights did this matter blow up. This is a well-deserved consequence.

    9. If they can’t sit next to me, a female, let them take a boat. I’m sick of being asked to move every time I fly. I only wish they would bathe prior to the flight and also brush their teeth.

    10. It’s the manner in which it is asked. I was once antagonistically “asked” to change seats. I had the aisle, and the lady behind me was willing, so she came to sit next to me and the man next to me moved back. So, you would think that would have ended the problem, no. The man who made the original fuss didn’t like that fact that the lady next to me and I had a conversation! It’s the chutzpah that is resented, not the seat change.

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