Our Sudden De Facto Travel Ban on Israel
If your direct flight from New York to Tel Aviv suddenly turns around in the eastern Mediterranean and heads back to Paris . . . do you get the frequent-flyer miles for the new longer route?
Perhaps there’s a bit of logic to the Federal Aviation Administration’s decision to bar all flights into Tel Aviv — after the shoot-down in the Ukrainian skies, surely everyone in the aviation world is more jittery than usual. But by barring flights, we’re giving Hamas what they want. We’re stopping all U.S. flights into Tel Aviv for 24 hours . . . and then what?
We’ve just told Hamas that we’ll stop our flights into Israel whenever they hit near the airport. The airport is well within range; it’s just a matter of firing enough until one gets through the Iron Dome air-defense system and scaring away air travelers.
With the U.S. decision, most European carriers announced they were cancelling flights to Israel, too. Cruise ships are altering their courses and canceling stops in Israel. Think about it, this is a de facto travel ban to Israel. (Anybody arriving in Israel by boat or overland right now? Didn’t think so.) Right now our State Department merely recommends against traveling to North Korea. Right now you can book a flight from a U.S. airport to Havana, Cuba, or Caracas, Venezuela. But you can’t fly to Tel Aviv . . . with one exception.
Israeli airline El Al is still flying . . . and a guy most folks on the Right don’t like very much is taking a bold stand:
Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg is heading to Israel Tuesday night, flying on El Al in a show of unity with the Jewish state while U.S. and European airlines are canceling flights amid deadly fighting in Gaza.
“This evening I will be flying on El Al to Tel Aviv to show solidarity with the Israeli people and to demonstrate that it is safe to fly in and out of Israel,” Bloomberg said in a prepared statement emailed by former City Hall spokesman Marc La Vorgna shortly after 8 p.m.
“Ben Gurion is the best protected airport in the world and El Al flights have been regularly flying in and out of it safely,” Bloomberg continued. “The U.S. flight restrictions are a mistake that hands Hamas an undeserved victory and should be lifted immediately. I strongly urge the FAA to reverse course and permit US airlines to fly to Israel.”
Bloomberg will be accompanied by one aide and, during his brief stay, plans to meet with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, La Vorgna said.
This sure feels like a backdoor way to pressure Israel to accept a cease-fire on terms it doesn’t like.