First They Came for the Chinese Tourists, Then They Came for the Yeshiva Students

James Fallows in the Atlantic writes a rising tide of airline imperiousness withh the wonderful title, First They Came for the Chinese Tourists, Then They Came for the Yeshiva Students… He describes United Airlines’  lousy record with Chinese passengers but adds on,

Some of these Chinese passengers seem to be taking their first-ever airplane trip, and most of them are from a domestic-Chinese airline culture that just works differently from America’s. Domestic Chinese passengers may be accustomed to people walking around when the airplane is taxiing, having the cabin crew give ineffectual suggestions rather than orders, etc.

He doesn’t raise the issue of the culture of Yeshiva of Flatbush kids in the recent Air Tran episode, though I have been reading the comments of some orthodox Flatbush Jews on the Jewish blogs and have had some pretty derogatory things to say about the manners of these students. Fallows wraps up with the reactions of an unidentified Midwestern rabbi.

While I wasn’t a witness to what happened on board, I question the veracity of the claims made by the adult chaperones of the yeshiva students who were forced off the plane because of Anti-Antisemitism. I’m wondering if it’s just another example of flight attendants who have a zero tolerance because of how they feel about their unhappy professional lives  – as you’ve opined about in the past – or of inappropriate passenger behavior that was simply intolerable for other passengers and crew…… I travel frequently and am easily identifiable as someone who is Jewish (i.e. I wear a kippah (yarmulke)). I have never experienced anti-Semitism at the hands of a flight attendant or pilot.

I am wondering if in fact Yeshiva of Flatbush student do in fact resemble the infuriating Chinese who are having their first experience with international travel norms. Of course, most of the seniors in this group probably had a fair amount of travel experience and thus don’t have that excuse.

What is interesting to me is how opinionated people are without having enough information. I wish we had a video of the actual episode, but all we really have are diametrically opposed claims. If you want to assume Antisemitism you can. Those upset about the lack of derech eretz (manners) can also have a field day. Clearly some of the Jewish commenters were venting about spoiled rich Syrian kids.


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