Low-budget Irish airline RyanAir has come under fire on social media by pro-Israel users following a report on Tuesday by World Israel News (WIN) alleging that a flight attendant announced that the flight, bound for Tel Aviv was “approaching Palestine.”
According to the report, citing Channel 14 News, passengers on the flight from Italy were shocked after the flight attendant “repeatedly described their final destination as Palestine,” in both Italian and English.
— Afshin Rattansi (@afshinrattansi) June 15, 2023
One passenger was quoted by the Israeli broadcaster as saying: “We didn’t [buy tickets] on the airline to deal with anti-Zionist opinions [from flight staff],” a passenger said. “All we wanted was [an announcement] that Tel Aviv is in Israel.”
Another passenger who tried to take a picture of the attendant was reportedly threatened with arrest upon landing, if she left her seat in order to get a clear image.
Responding to MEMO‘s request for comment, the airline said: “A junior crew member on this flight from Bologna to Tel Aviv (10 June) made a routine descent PA mistakenly saying ‘Palestine’ instead of ‘Tel Aviv’. This was an innocent mistake with no intent and was immediately corrected and apologised for by the senior crew member on board.”
"Passengers on a Ryanair flight from Italy to Tel Aviv were shocked after a flight attendant repeatedly described their final destination as #Palestine🇵🇸.
..Ryanair, headquartered in Dublin, Ireland🇮🇪, refused to respond to multiple requests for comment"https://t.co/b4CGylOqbO
— annie fofani🇵🇸 (@anniefofani) June 14, 2023
Despite the article by WIN being the sole English-language news report on the incident, the story has since gone viral on Twitter, with many users on both sides of the debate sharing their reactions.
This user urged the airline not to apologise and emphasised Ireland’s long-standing, popular support for the Palestinian cause:
— Dáil Fox News (@SeanDubIreland) June 14, 2023
Another sarcastically labelled the carrier “anti-Semite”, in reference to the common response by Zionists against any criticism against the occupation state.
We are approaching #Palestine 🇵🇸
"Passengers on a Ryanair flight from Italy to Tel Aviv were shocked after a flight attendant (respect ✌🏼❤️) repeatedly described their final destination as Palestine"@Ryanair is officially "antisemite" 🤣#FreePalestinehttps://t.co/lN9WRXGETG
— Ania Lewandovska (@Anna_AnninaEl) June 14, 2023
However, not everyone was amused. The account for the Simon Wiesenthal Centre (SWC), a Jewish human rights organisation, suggested that RyanAir should only do business with the Palestinian Authority instead, if it insists on Tel Aviv being part of Palestine. The city was founded in 1909 as a Jewish suburb of the historic Arab city of Jaffa.
If @RyanAir considers Tel Aviv to be in Palestine then perhaps they should only do business with the Palestinian Authority. Israel and Israelis can make their own way to and from the Jewish state. https://t.co/nDQo8N6jcw
— SimonWiesenthalCntr (@simonwiesenthal) June 13, 2023
The SWC has since issued an open letter to RyanAir CEO Eddie Wilson stating: “Passengers on the flight report that, following these inappropriate announcements, they had asked for a correction, which reportedly, was refused.”
“Before the SWC considers undertaking any action, we urge you to investigate this incident and to quickly issue an apology.”
There have also been several calls for boycotting the airline.
[Boycott Ryanair Now] A passenger was threatened with arrest for trying to photograph flight attendant who repeatedly announced that the plane was going to land in Palestine. Passengers on a Ryanair flight from Italy to Tel Aviv were shocked after a flight attendant repeatedly… pic.twitter.com/LkhhK0J6G0
— Eli Dror (@edrormba) June 13, 2023
Please, do not fly Ryanair.
Boycott bigotry. #m
Tell (((anti-Zionists))) where they can shove their hate. They cannot and will not erase us.
— (((Rachel))) (@AmIsraelChai_) June 13, 2023
The irony of the Nakba was not lost on this user. Jaffa was the largest city in historic Palestine during the years of the British mandate, with a population of more than 80,000 Palestinians. Prior to the declaration of the establishment of the State of Israel, Zionist militia displaced 95 per cent of Jaffa’s indigenous Arab Palestinian population.
Erasive Jew-hate now extends to the erasure of the existence of the Jewish state.https://t.co/2oZBCHAc1U
— Ben M. Freeman (@BenMFreeman) June 14, 2023
The Ireland Israel Alliance, meanwhile, has called on RyanAir to issue an apology, describing the repeated announcement by the flight attendant as “unacceptable.”
'"It is [unacceptable that] a Ryanair staff member would repeatedly broadcast […] that the flight was landing in Palestine”, Jackie Goodall, executive director of the Ireland Israel Alliance, told World Israel News."'@Ryanair should issue an apology.https://t.co/fOqgexSJCe
— Ireland Israel Alliance (@irlisrAlliance) June 13, 2023
One pro-Palestine activist shared a TikTok video with his reaction to the news.
Wheels down in Palestine!! Jumbo-Cojones Award guess to the Ryanair Attendant 😂👍🏻🇵🇸 pic.twitter.com/0SXq9P7mcC
— MattMatt (@MattMattRuby) June 15, 2023
“There are many of us that long for the day when we can hear the tyres screeching to the runway tarmac and you hear the voice that says ‘Welcome to Palestine’,” he said.
UPDATE: This article was updated on 15 June 2023 at 14.27 GMT to include RyanAir’s response to MEMO’s request for comment