By Vacy Vlazna
Two passengers, on Sunday 3rd January, who in good faith had paid their fares, had passed security checks, boarded the Aegean Airlines flight from Athens to Tel Aviv unexpectedly found themselves at the center of a racist onslaught by belligerent Jewish-Israeli passengers accusing the two passengers of being ‘terrorists’ and demanding their removal from the plane.
The victims were attacked for one reason only- they are Palestinian, even though one carried an Israeli passport and the other an Israeli residence permit.
For almost 2 hours, the Palestinians made a stand on their rights to stay on the plane but as the harassment and humiliation intensified from the bullies who had increased from 5 to 70 in number, the Palestinians agreed to disembark,
“The pilot said anyone who does not feel safe to fly should disembark and would not be compensated. But by that stage, the two men were in a poor state and wanted to leave themselves,” reported The Guardian
They flew home unmolested the next day, ironically, on an El Al flight.
The rude and belligerent chutzpah of the Jewish-Israeli bullies is rooted in Israel’s unbridled apartheid policies under which all Palestinians suffer, in the impunity Israel enjoys to commit daily crimes against humanity and war crimes bestowed by western governments and, significantly, in the flexing of Israel’s armament muscles and influence.
Jeff Halper comprehensively reveals, in his book, War Against the People, how Israel’s standing as a key player in the armament and security industries is the reason why its appalling human rights record and brutal illegal occupation of Palestine are diplomatically ignored,
“Israel has diplomatic relations with 157 countries, and virtually all the agreements and protocols Israel has signed with them contain military and security components.”
“Without an Occupation, Israel would have neither the drive nor the conditions by which to develop, deploy, test and export world-class weaponry and models of control; true, it would still need a military given the array of hostile forces in its region, but not one so exaggerated in power (nuclearized, for example), or demanding such aggressive international arms diplomacy.”
“In the realm of domestic security, the Israeli government and private companies work with security agencies the world over on issues of counter-terrorism, crime, border controls, prison management and disaster control. Israel’s experience in controlling the Occupied Territories and its population, as well as insulating its own population from resistance and terrorism, has become a major selling point.”
And so the question lingers, to what degree did Greco-Israeli politics influence the Aegean Airlines decision? This may go a long way to explain Israel’s influence over Greece. In 2012 and 2015, Greek authorities deliberately prevented the humanitarian Gaza flotillas from leaving Greek ports. Greece recently adopted a (non-binding) resolution to recognize a Palestinian state, however it had previously notified Netanyahu it would defy the EU guidelines of labeling illegal settlement products, and the so called left-wing Tsipras endorsed Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Even though, the CEO, Dimitrios Gerogiannis sent an apology to the Palestinian Authority, it can’t erase a new potential threat to international travel.
By compromising its corporate integrity and responsibility, Aegean Airlines showed poor judgement and consequently the incident has set a dangerous precedent for international travel.
It is not only damaging to an airline’s reputation to be taken hostage by passengers calling the shots as to who they deem suitable to fly with them, but places all passengers rights and safety, anywhere, on any plane, at risk to racial profiling and discriminatory demands at the whim of bigots such as the arrogant Jewish- Israeli passengers on Aegean Airlines.
– Dr. Vacy Vlazna is Coordinator of Justice for Palestine Matters. She was Human Rights Advisor to the GAM team in the second round of the Acheh peace talks, Helsinki, February 2005 then withdrew on principle. Vacy was coordinator of the East Timor Justice Lobby as well as serving in East Timor with UNAMET and UNTAET from 1999-2001. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.