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Netanya, Israel
Photo by Rhonda Spivak

Editor's Report from Israel: How I Was Re-Routed to Fly Turkish Airlines-No Thank You

by Rhonda Spivak, July 30, 2014



[Note: This will be a short report as I have to try to attend to getting my land line telephone in Israel working again since I haven’t been able to call out for three days. I spent several hours getting a good plan on my cell phone on the basis that it may only be after the war that my land line gets fixed.  Every time I call Hot, I get a message saying due to the war in the South everything is on emergency service, and although today I managed to get a representative on the line, after waiting for over an hour, they hung up on me. Additionally, yesterday, all the electricity went out in Netanya for a while, apparently since the summer heat has meant more people are using air conditioning. My computer speed is much slower than it should be something no doubt that also will only be fixed after the war.]



When I left Canada, I was scheduled to fly out of Israel on Austrian Airlines, with a stop-over in Vienna, as part of an Air Canada ticket. Austrian airlines is an affiliate of Lufthansa airlines and it had announced after a two day stoppage of flights that it was resuming flights.


Note that after the FAA ban on US flights to Israel, according to Arad Nir of Israel Channel 2, "Israel reportedly told the US that this situation (of the FAA ban) can’t continue, so in order to resolve it, Israel will need to significantly and disproportionately ramp up its attack on Gaza, and put an immediate stop to all the rocket attacks, thus allowing US flight to Israel to resume."Nir claimed the message was understood and the FAA ban was rescinded, as reported in the Jewish Press.


After Luftansa and affiliates had reportedly resumed flights, the German pilots union criticised this decision and Joerg Handwerg, a board member at German pilots' union Vereinigung Cockpit said "We should not be flying to locations where shots are being fired," Handwerg said. Handwerg said he had demanded that airlines ensure that staff only agree to go on flights on a voluntary basis.


Two days ago Air Canada suddenly sent me a notice indicating that my Austrian Airlines flight had been cancelled and I was going to be re-routed to fly on Turkish Airlines to Turkey and then to Vienna. I was not at all pleased to hear this. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is one of Hamas's main supporters! The last thing I had in mind was to fly Turkish Airlines!.


Late last week, Erdogan accused Israel of massacring Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and carrying out war crimes worse than those of Hitler and the Nazis. His statements prompted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to complain to the U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, that Erdogan's comments were anti-Semitic and desecrated the memory of the Holocaust. Kerry's spokeswoman Jen Psaki called Erdogan's statements "offensive and wrong." Then

Ankara’s mayor, Melih Gokcek, poured oil on the flames by claiming that Israel was perpetrating a genocide in Gaza “10 times worse than that conducted by Hitler." After these statements, Israel recalled its diplomats from Turkey, leaving behind a skeleton staff.  
 A day ago, I overheard  an Israeli on her cell phone cancelling a planned vacations to Ankara, as most Israelis are now doing. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has just said he will be "glad" to return an award given to him in 2004 by the American Jewish Congress, Turkey's embassy in the US said Tuesday. AJC President Jack Rosen had denounced Erdogan as "arguably the most virulent anti-Israel leader in the world" in asking for the award back. Erdogan has asked Turkey Jews to condemn Israel, but says 'won't get hurt' if they don't. (How sweet of him !)

I thanked Air Canada for their gracious offer to fly me on Turkish Airlines, but declined. (I really have no desire to use my tourist dollars to fund Hamas supporters). I spent the last two days figuring out a way to fly a different route to avoid Turkey.


Today alas I learned that my Austrian Airlines flight has been re-instated. I guess the pilots' union lost out.  Hopefully that won't change.


The only thing Turkish I want right now will be a cup of Turkish coffee, early tomorrow a.m. on my way to a meeting I have tomorrow. (Update Aug 10: Since writing this report I have learned that due ot a shortage of pilots, turkish airlines has hired 200 Iranian pilots.They won't be flying in and out of Israel directly but will be flying connecting flights).


One other note, Hillary Clinton has caused a ruckus here with her quote below which in my view suggests that part of the reason that Hamas puts rockets in civilian areas is that Gaza is 'very densely populated." Come on Hillary---this is a lame justification/excuse for Hamas's actions. Firstly Hamas doesn't need to have rockets and missiles at all. Secondly, they don't need to put rockets in civilian areas. They do it because they want to, in order to blame Israel for causing casualties by doing what any other nation would do to defend itself.  And they do it because they don't care about their people.



CLINTON: I'm not a military planner, but Hamas puts its missiles -- its rockets in civilian areas. Part of it is that Gaza's pretty small and it's very densely populated. They put their command and control of Hamas military leaders in those civilian areas. Israel, I know, has sent warnings and tried to get people to move, but in any kind of conflict there are going to be civilian casualties, and we need to try to get to a cease-fire as soon as possible.  



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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.