Against Antisemitism – Ενάντια στον αντισημιτισμό republishes a letter to the editor of Zoe Dorit Eliou, passenger of the Aegean flight A3 928 from Athens to Tel Aviv, in which she criticizes the coverage of the incident involving Israeli passengers in Huffingtonpost.gr. Zoe Dorit Eliou refutes the accusations of racism as follows:
the article you wrote about the 1/4/15 incident on the Aegean flight from Athens-Tel Aviv was completely distorted and one sided as I was on the plane and this not what I saw or experienced.
Indeed, there was tension and anxiety that began already in the waiting hall, before embarkation. The reason for that had to do with the behavior of one of the men (I did not see the other one) which was very provocative and frightening. He looked at us with a chilling hostility and cold smile that was ominous. He wore a military type shirt, waited to embark last and seemed ready for a disturbance.
The passengers sat down, and some people very quitely and discretely approached the crew which refused to address the situation. As a result, some people wanted to get off the plane as it was ready to leave. There was a commotion but no screaming or fighting. Most everybody sat down or was just raised in their seats to observe what was going on. There was a language barrier as many of the Israelis did not speak English and the crew was not particularly reassuring but rather derogatory in Greek (I speak Greek, English and Hebrew fluently). The 2 passengers were taken off and there was a cursory security check on the overhead items.
Later the security agent told me that there was a canine examination of the luggage before boarding but he did not communicate that in English to the passengers. In fact, he gave me permission to say so in Hebrew. Finally the security agent was screaming at the Israelis that if they did not like it they could get off and buy a ticket elsewhere. He was rather rude. The security did not explain that the 2 passengers were further investigated and they were ok and blamed the Israelis that they, the Israelis, were the only reason they were taken off.
I regret to say that your article is divisive, and reflects poor and one sided journalism which further polarizes the situation between the two traumatized nations. You clearly had an agenda, since the article did not speak to any of the passengers, except the crew and amnesty international.
Profiling is indeed an awful way to relate to one another as human beings and yet as humans under stress we resort to very primal judgments. The context is always important before we judge a reaction, and the overreaction of the passengers was not without a context. There were many other passengers on the flight that looked “arab” on the plane but they were not hostile or provocative. I hope you can amend your article to include a more balanced and whole story, rather than a presentation of an agenda.
Sincerely, Dr. Eliou
Source: huffingtonpost.gr (5/1/2016)
Dr. Eliou sent to us the following additional remark:
Please note that no one knew the nationality of the 2 passengers ahead of time. Also, Aegean offered them to leave the flight, pay for their hotel and fly them the next day. They were not forcibly removed from the flight. I thought that if everything checked out they should have continued the flight and whoever objected could have left themselves. I think Aegean made a mistake by removing them and offering them an alternative accommodation and flight, and then blaming it on the Israeli passengers, almost like a set up. In addition, passengers tried to communicate with them to break the ice but they refused to speak. I felt the article had an agenda. I think it was unfortunate but could have been easily resolved with some communication between the passengers so that everyone cold relax.