July 24, 2024
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What I Learned From a United Flight Attendant About the Hostages

I recently flew back from Israel on a United flight. It was United’s second flight resumption since Oct. 7.

The picture below is the flight wings of a flight attendant with more than 40 years of service. During my flight, I had the pleasure of talking at length with a wonderful flight attendant with such service time. Just before I turned to go back to my seat, I thanked her for staffing the Israel flight — I told her that I assume she had family in the States who thought she was nuts for doing so.

She shared that she felt very secure in Tel Aviv. She also said that passing posters with pictures of each hostage in the arrival hall in Ben Gurion Airport had brought home to her their story in a way she had not imagined from U.S. news reports.

She asked me why there were gaps in the line of posters. I indicated that when hostages were freed or their bodies recovered, their posters were removed. I told her that prior Sunday, the day after four hostages were rescued by the Israeli army, there was an informal ceremony at the airport and their posters were taken down.

At this point, the woman broke down weeping and it took her several minutes to regain her composure. The flight attendant is not Jewish. Her reaction does not make her a Zionist. In fact, her reaction makes her … well, human. That is the appropriate human response to innocent people who had been held hostage for almost 250 days and were rescued, that is the appropriate response to the plight of well over 100 hostages, ages 1-86, still enduring a living hell on earth in Gaza.

A day does not go by that I, and I suspect many of this paper’s readers, do not think of the hostages. I’ve also tried to draw attention to their plight in multiple ways. However, the reaction of this flight attendant taught me that I’ve become numb to their plight. The response to their plight should be sobbing, followed of course, by activities to support their release.

Shortly we will be entering the Three Weeks. Candidly, for many it is difficult to generate the sense of mourning and loss that should result from thinking about the destruction of the temples. As a result, Holocaust imagery and stories are often incorporated into programming during this period.

Sadly, this year we will not need to even reach back as far back as the Holocaust to generate our feelings of aveilut. There is no need for March of the Living; its contemporary manifestation sits less than 60 miles from Ben Gurion. If you’ve also become a bit numb to it all, this is the time to summon the tears. Then it is time to redouble your activities on behalf of those still being held in Gaza.


Dror Futter lives in Teaneck. He is a partner at the Rimon PC law firm where he advises start-ups and technology companies.

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