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Activists Thank British Airways for Continuing Flights to Israel

Bnei Akiva activists in Israel show British Airways crew members their appreciation for flying to Israel when others cancelled.
By Yoni Kempinski and Ari Soffer
First Publish: 7/30/2014, 1:00 PM

After a brief period during which several international airlines cancelled flights to Israel over rocket attack fears, flights to and from Ben Gurion International Airport have largely returned to normal now.

In hindsight the episode may feel like a minor blip, but had Israel not convinced the airlines in questions - and most notably the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which prevented all US airlines from flying for several days - that they were overreacting, the Israeli economy could have taken a much harder hit.

With that in mind activists from the Bnei Akiva religious-Zionist youth movement have taken it upon themselves to thank one of the few major European airlines which carried on flying to and from the Jewish state, even as others would not.

Activists presented roses and letters of appreciation to British Airways crew members as they landed in Ben Gurion, to the obvious delight of pilots and other flight staff.

"We will be giving every single crew member an individually-wrapped rose, coming from the love of our chanichim (members) and from our alumni around the world, showing our appreciation for them coming and supporting Israel during this difficult time," said Daniel Winer, a member of World Bnei Akiva.

Bnei Akiva Secretary General Noam Perel thanks British Airways crew Yoni Kempinski

Rachel Hodes, a Bnei Akiva member from Johannesburg in South Africa, said she felt "privileged" to be able to show solidarity with Israel at a difficult time.

"Thank God I'm not feeling scared, I'm feeling very privileged and lucky to be here and I feel like there's nowhere in the world I'd rather be now... it's amazing to be part of such an incredible nation, and to be in Israel at this time and to see the unity of Am Yisrael (the nation of Israel)."