Outrageous Antisemitism or Par for the Course?  


UPDATE: This post was ill-advised and widely misunderstood. But I will say this: While Lufthana acted wrongly, it is absolutely true that there is a serious, widespread and systemic problem with how many charedi Jews, particularly chassidim, behave on airlines. Anyone who denies this has either not flown much with such groups or is being dishonest. Yet when anyone – even other frum Jews – mentions this, there are cries of “lashon hara!” and accusations of “antisemitism.” If we don’t address our own problems, then we shouldn’t be surprised if others address them in ways that we don’t like.

There is outrage among many frum Jews about an incident involving Lufthansa. Around 150 charedim who flew to Germany from JFK were denied permission to board a connecting flight to Hungary, where they wished the visit the grave of a chassidic rebbe. The Lufthansa official explained that since a number of them had refused to wear masks on the flight from JFK, none of them would be allowed to board the next flight (presumably due to the difficulty of identifying which of them exactly would cause problems). This resulted in outrage. How dare Lufthansa punish all the Jews on the flight for the actions of what one frum person claims was just one or two passengers? Such collective punishment, it is argued, is clearly antisemitism.

I would first like to observe that it is extremely unreasonable to believe that it was only “one or two” passengers who did not wear masks. As pointed out in a past post, When Chassidim Fly, anyone who flies regularly on El Al flights from JFK knows full well that charedim, and especially chassidim, are frequently non-compliant with airline instructions, especially regarding Covid restrictions. In fact, in the comments on the Vos Iz Neias story, several people insist that one should not obey the rules about masks! In a group of 150 chassidim, there were presumably a considerable number that were not masking. Still, presumably there were also many chassidim who were compliant. Is it legitimate for them to be punished for those who were not compliant? Is such collective punishment not antisemitic?

I’m not going to answer this question directly. Instead, I would encourage people to consider a similar situation. Not all Palestinians are terrorists or even support terror. Nevertheless, all Palestinians frequently pay the price for the significant number of Palestinians that do engage in terror. Whether it’s lockdowns or other legal restrictions, there are measures that are taken against the collective due to the impossibility of targeting only those that are causing problems. Is this right or wrong? My point here is not to take a position either way. But I am darn sure that every single frum person who is shouting “outrageous antisemitism!” at Lufthansa for their collective treatment of the chassidim is perfectly fine with such collective treatment of Palestinians. They would undoubtedly say that it’s par for the course. When there is a significant number of people who cause problems, and there is no way to single out those people, then the larger community which houses and produces them must pay the price in order to prevent those problems from occurring again.

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