Passenger Buys Tickets For Everyone Going From New York To Israel
One passenger showed up at New York JFK and bought tickets for everyone looking to travel to Israel with a notice to join the reserves. The country has activated 360,000 civilian reservists, representing around 4% of the entire population.
Reportedly he paid for 250 seats on an El Al Boeing 787-9 which holds 282 passengers. This photo is of donations that were also being made to the Israeli military and soldiers.
From a high ranking person at El-Al: Yesterday, a Haredi man arrived at JFK with a $500,000 credit card and paid for the plane tickets for anyone who showed him a reserve duty callup notice. He ended up paying for 250 tickets. https://t.co/30jq8tHDfw
— Noam Blum (@neontaster) October 10, 2023
Thousands of Israelis are making the trip back as a call to service in the face of the Hamas invasion. However this act of paying for their tickets – which you might expect to be viewed with great generosity and patriotism – is actually generating controversy. That’s because of the profile of the man identified as having covered the expense.
Haredi are strict orthodox Jews who represent perhaps one in eight in Israel and growing. They tend towards very traditional practices, including sex separation in public, and are generally against technology to the extent it might corrupt (so while efforts to ban internet access haven’t been successful, some use non-internet enabled cell phones). Many do not listen to the radio or read newspapers, preferring religious lectures. While battles with Islamic fundamentalism are often framed as modernity versus ancient mores, that is not the case here.
Men in this category limit their participation in compulsory military service or exempt themselves from it altogether through religious study exemptions. Many receive government stipends for their study which takes the place of (rather than coming before) work. They are politically important, skew hostile towards peace, and do not themselves fight. Their communities tend to be poor, though the man paying for tickets is obviously an exception.
He’s receiving much criticism online for paying so that others might fight, rather than participating in the fight himself, though it’s unclear whether he’s even eligible to do so.