[lbo-talk] F.A.A. Halts U.S. Flights to Israel

JOANNA A. 123hop at comcast.net
Tue Jul 22 19:53:48 PDT 2014

A friend writes:

----- Forwarded Message ----- This poses a bit of a dilemma for the American defenders of Israel's campaign in Gaza. They've been pulling out all the guns, so to speak, to project the mindset that this is a more or less equal military contest, or at least morally equivalent. The American media has bent over backwards to emphasize the damage in Israel. The Times published a graphic comparing number of "rockets launched" by Hamas with number of actual "strikes" by Israel, though they couldn't hide the twenty-to-one disparity in deaths (which is probably much higher, since the numbers come from the IDF).

Now the Israel defenders have to do a complete about-face and argue that there is no danger to airliners flying into Israel's main airport:

"An Israeli official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, said that Israel had had no advance notification by the airlines of their intention to cancel flights. The official insisted that it was safe to fly to Israel. "

It reminds me of the song lyrics:


But what a tangled web we weave When we conspire to deceive

</blockquote> It might occur to people who actually use their brains that there is at least one Big Lie operating here, if not several. Airline passengers, and the airlines themselves, are especially sensitive to the danger of flying into a combat zone since the shooting down of the Malaysian Airlines plane over Ukraine. It might occur to people that Israeli officials are willing to risk the lives of airline passengers for the sake of "tourism" and their economy, or that if it is really "safe to fly to Israel" then the military conflict is in fact one-sided (which is true).

<blockquote> "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel called Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday to seek his help in reversing the decision to suspend flights, Obama administration officials said. They did not comment on the substance of the call, which was first reported by the Israeli new media, nor did they say how Mr. Kerry responded to Mr. Netanyahu’s request. "

</blockquote> As for why the F.A.A. halted flights to Israel rather suddenly and apparently with "no advance notification" to the Israelis, two likely explanations come to mind. The simplest one is that it was done at the behind the scenes urging of the airlines themselves. Equally likely is that this is one of the ways that the Obama administration can express its disapproval of the invasion of Gaza without having to confront the American Israel lobby head-on, and without having to go through Congress.

The fact is, this latest episode is another blow to U.S. foreign policy, which is seen as enabling Israel's militaristic policies with massive amounts of equipment, and political cover in the U.N. Although the American Israel lobby has a virtual lock on mass media propaganda in this country, that is far from the case in the rest of the world.

The main concern of the U.S. in the Middle East lately has been ISIS and the situation in Iraq, and the relations with Iran. At the same time there is the other hot spot in Ukraine. Just as Putin is making use of the U.S. preoccupation with Iraq, it appears that Netanyahu is making use of the U.S. preoccupation with Iraq and Ukraine to wage its new war on Gaza. This can only make it more difficult for the U.S. to find allies in the other two arenas.

Perhaps the F.A.A. decision will be reversed under pressure from Israel and its American supporters, but then the myth of the two-sided conflict will be more exposed, and of course if an airliner is then shot down the anti-Obama zealots will have a field day. Consistency has no place in American politics or public debate these days.

-- Dave Friedman

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/23/world/middleeast/faa-halts-us-flights-to-israel.html F.A.A. Halts U.S. Flights to Israel


The Federal Aviation Administration instructed American air carriers on Tuesday not to fly to Israel for 24 hours, and major airlines canceled their flights, after a rocket fell about a mile from Ben-Gurion International Airport outside Tel Aviv. All three United States carriers with scheduled service to Israel — Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and US Airways — suspended their flights. The agency said it would provide updated instructions to the airlines “as soon as conditions permit.” The disruption of air travel at the height of the summer tourism season highlighted the impact of the conflict in the Gaza Strip on the Israeli economy. It also came at a time when airlines around the globe appeared to be much more sensitive about the risks of flying over conflict areas, after the downing of a Malaysia Airlines jetliner over eastern Ukraine last week. Related Coverage

The F.A.A.'s order applied only to American carriers, but at least three European airlines — Air France, Lufthansa and KLM — followed suit, canceling flights to and from Tel Aviv. Others appeared to still be operating their flights, including British Airways, which said it “continues to operate as normal” and was monitoring the situation closely. El Al, the Israeli national carrier, kept flying as usual. Delta suspended its service between Kennedy International Airport and Tel Aviv “until further notice” and did not indicate when it might resume flights. US Airways said that it canceled Tuesday’s flight from Philadelphia and that it was in contact with federal authorities. United canceled its two daily flights from Newark Liberty International Airport on Tuesday. Delta had a flight in the air on its way to Israel when the decision was made. Flight 468, a Boeing 747 with 273 passengers and 17 crew members aboard, was diverted to Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris after the rocket fell in Yehud, a Tel Aviv suburb just north of the airport. According to Flightradar24.com, the plane was flying over Greece, about two hours from its destination, when it turned around and diverted to Paris. The State Department warned American travelers on Monday to put off going to Israel, the West Bank or Gaza because of the increasing danger from combat and from rocket fire.... An Israeli official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, said that Israel had had no advance notification by the airlines of their intention to cancel flights. The official insisted that it was safe to fly to Israel. “If they wanted to hand the terrorists a prize they couldn’t have chosen a better way,” the official said, adding, “If it was safe so far, why would it not be safe now? Nothing has changed. The airport has been there since Day 1.”

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