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The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY JC REPORTER

A PROM­I­NENT Strictly Ortho­dox rabbi has said he will boy­cott Is­rael’s flag car­rier El Al for fail­ing to apol­o­gise after di­vert­ing a flight to avoid des­e­crat­ing Shab­bat.

The flight be­tween New York and Tel Aviv two weeks ago landed early in Athens be­cause cabin crew said it could not reach Is­rael in time for the Jewish day of rest.

But there were al­le­ga­tions that some pas­sen­gers on board were vi­o­lent to­wards the El Al crew.

Over the week­end Rabbi Shalom Ber Sorotzkin, who leads a yeshiva net­work in Beit Shemesh, de­manded a pub­lic ex­pres­sion of con­tri­tion from Go­nen Usishkin, the air­line’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, fol­low­ing the de­lays to the flight and the widely-re­ported al­le­ga­tions that Strictly Ortho­dox pas­sen­gers were re­spon­si­ble for the vi­o­lence on board.

He re­port­edly wrote in a let­ter to Mr Usishkin on Fri­day: “I wish to in­form you that fol­low­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions over the last few days in which the dis­par­age­ment of those who ob­serve Shab­bat and tra­di­tion has con­tin­ued, if an un­am­bigu­ous apol­ogy is not forth­com­ing by Sun­day evening ... we will Rabbi Shalom Ber Sor­tozkin (right) out­side El Al’s head­quar­ters as a col­league cuts up his air­line loy­alty card be forced to work within the holy com­mu­nity to­wards a pref­er­ence for other air­lines who do not dis­crim­i­nate be­tween dif­fer­ent peo­ple, do not be­lit­tle that which is beloved and holy to the peo­ple of God and [who] ap­pre­ci­ate their prin­ci­ples.”

But hav­ing not re­ceived a re­ply, Rabbi Sorotzkin ap­peared with a group of Strictly Ortho­dox Jews out­side El Al’s head­quar­ters on Sun­day night and cut up his air­line loy­alty card.

The Boe­ing 747-458 took off with 400 pas­sen­gers on board five-and-ahalf hours after its sched­uled de­par­ture time on Novem­ber 15 — be­cause of the snow that be­gan fall­ing that af­ter­noon in New York.

There were con­flict­ing re­ports of an­gry con­fronta­tions on board. One Strictly Ortho­dox man on board the flight said the pi­lot promised to take the plane back to the ter­mi­nal at JFK Air­port to al­low pas­sen­gers con­cerned about Shab­bat to dis­em­bark if they re­turned to their seats, only to take off min­utes af­ter­wards.

El Al said this week that it would com­pen­sate 400 pas­sen­gers on board the flight with a free round-trip ticket to a Euro­pean des­ti­na­tion of their choice.

PHOTO: FLASH 90

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