El Al, the airline of the Jewish people, recently announced an initiative to create a line of "kosher" flights. Apparently mixed seating on airplanes is a sin (presumably based on a gemara somehwere) and many in the Chareidi community want to avoid commiting such a neshama-damaging activity on flights to and from Israel.
I'm not going to debate the merits of such an idea. As a non-Chareidi, I don't think such extreme precautions are necessary and have no trouble sitting on a regular El Al flight or receiving a package of peanuts from a dour stewardness who usually reminds me of a childhood Hebrew school teacher. But clearly for many Chareidim this is important, and clearly there are enough of them to make it a worthwhile business option for El Al.
Remember that El Al is a private company. Its job is not simply to provide travellers to Israel with tiny cups of water or packaged dinners that have more scent than actual food. Its job is to make money by providing services people will buy. A defined group, the Chareidi community, has asked for a specific service to be provided so that they can buy it. They are not demanding that all El Al flights adhere to the so-called "mehadrin standard". El Al is not a government company run by the State like Egged buses. So do I see a problem with this? Absolutely not. Why shouldn't El Al run specific "Chareidi" flights if it'll sell them more tickets? If they continue to run all the rest of their regular flights so the non-Chareidi traveller can still get to and from Israel without (the usual) difficulties, who cares if the Chareidim have their own flights? They're paying for them, after all.
Well it turns out someone does care. IRAC, the Reform movement in Israel, is scandalized by the idea:
According to the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), IMPJ's legal branch, the move represents "an illegitimate policy that violates Israeli law."
In a letter to Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz and El Al CEO Haim Romano, IRAC Attorney Orly Erez-Likhovski wrote that "flights that institute separation between men and women should not be approved offhandedly."
According to Erez-Likhovski, the law in Israel prohibits any form of segregation based on gender, and therefore any agreement that infringes on this principle should be grounded on a solid rationale and adhere to the law.
Ah yes, all the usual paeans of modern secular liberal tolerance: "illegitimate", "violates Israeli law", "principle", "infringe". Bottom line, this is what IRAC is saying to El Al: we don't care if you're a private company making a voluntary business decision. We think it's wrong and therefore it is wrong.
It is the intellectual and political left that fancies itself the bastion of freedom in the Western world. By fighting against discrimination it believes it is creating a world free of hatred and racism. The popular media especially plays along with this. When was the last time you saw a movie about a dystopic future in which the government was leftist?
Yet the truth about the left is that they are far more controlling and intolerant than the right they accuse of such sins. Where is personal freedom more inhibited? The United Kingdom under the Labour party or the United States under the Republicans? The left is so desirous of creating a hate-free utopia that it sees no contraindication in forcing people to have specific views and act in specific ways since those views and ways are "the right ones".
El Al has made a business decision that will hopefully increase its profits. It has done so without infringing on anyone's rights. Why does IRAC have a problem with this? Because it is the source of intolerance, far more than the Chareidim in this case.