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October 02, 2002
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Italy capitulates to Palestinian terrorism

The Jerusalem Post (www.jpost.com) has a good article by Nachman Shai, who explains why we should boycott the Italian airlines, Alitalia:

Alitalia, Italy's national airline, does not allow its aircrews to stay overnight in Israel. Since the wave of terrorism began two years ago, the airline's crews sleep over in Larnaca, while their passengers to Israel are forced to make a stupid stopover in Cyprus, a 20-minute flight away from Tel Aviv. [...]

This is a grave case of capitulation to terrorism capitulation that, as so many precedents have taught us, will lead to further terrorism, which will force Alitalia to perform further acts of this nature. [...]

The answer to this outrage, my Israeli friends, is very simple: boycott Alitalia. Let's tell the Italians: as long as you capitulate to this terrorism terrorism we are fighting; terrorism for which we are paying the heaviest price and which we may be blocking from spreading to other countries as long as you continue to land in Larnaca, we are taking other airlines.

Nachman Shai became an Israeli hero during the Gulf war: after every Scud the butcher from Iraq fired into Israeli towns, Nachman would appear on TV and radio to calm everybody down.

I copy the full article below.

Boycott Alitalia
BY NACHMAN SHAI, Oct. 2, 2002
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?
pagename=JPost/A/JPArticle/
ShowFull&cid=1033392609602

It should have been just a relaxing holiday in a wonderful location. Succot in Tuscany, where thousands of Israelis head every year, renting cars and houses, and wandering from one part of the gorgeous region to the other.

Italy has everything we would like to see in the "promised land" rolling green hills, groves of olive trees and vines stretching across the horizon, preserved ancient homes on narrow but manageable roads. A vast landscape of quiet with a screaming question mark: with many of the same ingredients we have in Israel, why is it that here they don't create the same result? Why don't our own greenery and history add up to a place like this? Why do we have to go looking for it a three-and-a-half-hour flight away?

Italy is close enough not to be too far, and in the short time it takes the plane to take me there, I wonder exactly where we went wrong, and why we fail in spite of having the same staring point as the Italians.

These ruminations begin as praise for the Italians, with a touch of self-flagellation until Alitalia enters the picture.

It happens on the way back to Israel. At the Rome airport, after a two-and-a-half-hour wait on the ground, it is announced over the loudspeaker that our flight was going to make a stopover in Larnaca.

There they would switch crews and reload the plane with passengers to Rome.

Alitalia, Italy's national airline, does not allow its aircrews to stay overnight in Israel. Since the wave of terrorism began two years ago, the airline's crews sleep over in Larnaca, while their passengers to Israel are forced to make a stupid stopover in Cyprus, a 20-minute flight away from Tel Aviv.

To be sure, originally Alitalia was not the only airline to adopt this system in the wake of Palestinian terrorism. But the other airlines understood that passengers' interest required them to take off and land in Tel Aviv without stopovers.

Alitalia's policy is not only an issue that relates to passenger discomfort, however. This is a grave case of capitulation to terrorism capitulation that, as so many precedents have taught us, will lead to further terrorism, which will force Alitalia to perform further acts of this nature.

This is not to say that the Italians are interested in terrorism. They too understand it as a threat. They surely remember well the drop in air traffic after September 11. This did not stop them flying to the US, however; nor did it stop them from putting up their crews in Manhattan overnight.
When it comes to the Middle East and Israel, Alitalia adopted different policies. Unlike other airlines, Alitalia is not reversing its wrong decision.

The answer to this outrage, my Israeli friends, is very simple: boycott Alitalia. Let's tell the Italians: as long as you capitulate to this terrorism terrorism we are fighting; terrorism for which we are paying the heaviest price and which we may be blocking from spreading to other countries as long as you continue to land in Larnaca, we are taking other airlines.

Ben-Gurion Airport still has several alternative lines to Rome and other cities in Italy and Europe. Israel is not isolated and I believe it won't be.

The only one that is going to be isolated at the end of this process is Alitalia, when its flights empty out and when it starts losing money. Then and only then is there a chance that its management will reexamine and reconsider its policy.

If this doesn't happen, perhaps in some corners of Tuscany people will start wondering where the thousands of Israelis who used to flock there every holiday disappeared with their buying power. We should explain to them that Alitalia is behind it.

The writer is the director general of the United Jewish Communities-Israel and recently retired chairman of the board of the Israel Broadcasting Authority.

Posted by David Melle at October 02, 2002 03:17 PM
Comments

I just want you to know that boycotting Alitalia should be a pleasure. We did not know about the boycott and flew N.Y.(JFK)- Milan and Rome -JFK 2 april and 17 April, 03.They were the worst flights by far we have ever taken. Hard seats,bad food,nasty crew! We are spreading the news,both as to boycott and quality of flight. Good luck!

Posted by: M. Rich on May 8, 2003 02:44 PM
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