Israeli minister complains to El Al after pilot compared judicial reform to Holocaust

A pilot on a flight from Tel Aviv to New York allegedly claimed that Israel is fighting to remain a democracy


Israeli El Al airline aircrafts are pictured on the tarmac at Israel's Ben Gurion Airport in Lod, east of Tel Aviv, on September 24, 2020. (Photo by Ahmad GHARABLI / AFP) (Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images)

Israel’s Transport Minister, Miri Regev, has complained to the senior administrators of El Al, after one of its pilots allegedly told a planeful of passengers from Tel Aviv to New York that “things like the Holocaust potentially happen only in dictatorships — and we are fighting in Israel to remain a democracy”.

The unnamed pilot made his announcement during routine pre-flight remarks this Tuesday, while Israel was commemorating Yom HaShoah or Holocaust memorial day.

The captain made his comments in Hebrew and English so that the majority of passengers could understand his remarks.

One passenger on the flight told Ynet that he was “shocked that an El Al pilot would allow himself to bring [such matters] to the plane, and in general to compare, even implicitly, the issue of the Holocaust to what has recently been happening in the country.”

El Al said the message did not reflect its values and that it would carry out an investigation into the remarks. In a statement, the airline said it “condemns political statements of any kind by any of its staff at work, and certainly on its planes, which can’t serve as a stage for such activity.”

Three weeks ago a number of El Al pilots allegedly refused to fly Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to London, and several weeks earlier there had been similar protests from crew unwilling to fly Mr and Mrs Netanyahu to Rome.

According to Israeli media, a furious Miri Regev, a close associate of the Prime Minister, got straight on the phone to El Al senior officials. She is understood to have told them: “Time and time again, the pilots are behaving as if they’re the bosses. This situation can’t go on. Something bad is happening there. The company must act accordingly and respect its status as the national carrier. The flight paths may be clear, but it seems like the company’s sense of direction is lost.”

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