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« Wits Responds to Allegations of Racial Profiling at Limmud | Main | Mail & Guardian Interviews Finkelstein »

September 01, 2009



The video and transcript are both available at:

El Al on MNET/Carte Blanche website

DJ Gama

I hope Mossad arrive in SA and give Mr Garb a 'friendly' visit.


What I want to know about is Michael Bagraim’s involvement. Did he know that his client was going to go to the press like this? It would seem so given that he himself was interviewed.

This has done terrible damage to Israel and the community. If Michael Bagraim is invovled thats shocking.

DJ Gama

Well then Mossad can give him a 'friendly' visit too.


I’m sure we’ll see letters in the Jewish report from Jonathan Garb and Michael Bagraim explaining that they never meant to cause such a grave security incident and that they were innocent victims of the twisted reporters of Carte Blanche.
They should both face the real consequences of their stupidity!
Garb will never get a job in the community again and if he was living in Israel, he could be charged for a string of security breeches. If his case does come to a review board the Carte Blanche episode should be used to justify his dismissal on the grounds that he was incompetent and had no real understanding of complexity and political sensitivity of airline security in a foreign country even after years in the business.
Michael Bagraim should be asked to step down from the SAJBD. Either he will claim that he was unaware of the scope of the report he was being interviewed for, or worse he will stand by what he said. Regardless of his excuses, as chairman of the governing body of the Jewish community, Bagraim is expected to have a bit more foresight with such sensitive media matters. At his level, media incompetence is inexcusable.

As a semi private company that lost money in the last financial quarter, EL-AL is seriously looking at cutting its global costs. Unless this issue blows over, EL AL many simply close their station in SA. The Johannesburg route is just barley breaking even. This will put dozens more South Africans out of a job and Carte Blanche will claim another victory, with the help of the chairman of the SAJBD


I don't understand. If you don't want to be interrogated then don't fly el al. They're not the cheapest flight to Israel, they're not the nicest, the give the SA route old crappy planes. They're only the only direct flight.

The irony of Tilley complaining about how she was targeted and racial profiling is too overwhelming. Can we all pitch in to buy he a mirror?

Why did they not ask the question: Many many blacks travel on El Al, why were these 2 singled out for interrogation?

Ok, so El Al security passed themselves off as airport security - whoopdeedo. They have every right to ask people question. granted, people not travelling on El Al have every right not to answer them, but El Al can still ask.

Regarding Garb. It takes a sincerely heartless human being to do what he did. Not only has he placed members of the SA Jewish community and El Al passengers in physical danger but he has now endangered the jobs of the many El Al employees who stand to be retrenched if the airline decide that the route is now too unsafe to continue operating. The same goes for the Carte Blanche team. I have made no secret of my dislike for journalists but I truly believe that these animals have hit a new level. Well done, you got out a sensational story. And in the aftermath families are going to go hungry. The unskilled El Al employees will be the only big losers in this. El Al can pull out - the SA route is not exactly lucrative (copmare 4 flights a day to the US to the 3/week to JHB), the senior employees will move on, the passengers will take other airlines and John the baggage handler and his wife and kids will go hungry.

As for Bagraim - He's a lawyer - nuff said.

DJ Gama

Those El Al security officials being video'd on the airport floor will surely be let go. They can't let themselves be filmed like that. I know they didn't have a clue, but they failed in protecting their airline. Security officials will have a hard stance on this. Even though they were just doing their job.

Carte Blanche should have covered those security guys faces or blocked them out.


Couldn't agree more with Shaun

Bagraim's position is one that demands a thorough understanding of media and an ability to interact with them without damaging the community. If he claims his personal law practice and his position on the board are independent (which he may) then he is either absolutely inept or a thoroughly disgusting and morally depraved person, oh wait, he's a lawyer - no need for repetition.

The Blacklisted Dictator


The attached extract from the Carte Blanche transcript is interesting. Does Bagraim agree with all of Garb's allegations about El Al ? If he doesn't, why did he get involved with Carte Blanche?

Jonathan's case is in good hands, his lawyer Michael Bagraim is also the President of the Jewish Board of Deputies.

Michael Bagraim (Lawyer): 'I think it is an excellent case. I think he has been unfairly dismissed. I don't think they have a good reason for the dismissal, and I don't think they followed the procedure in the dismissal at all. And not only don't I think that, the paperwork proves exactly what I am saying."

The Blacklisted Dictator


In the circumstances The SAJBD has no option other than to issue a full statement re Bagraim and Carte Blanche assuming that they can find find somebody who is compos mentis to write it.

As you know, I often wonder what planet The SAJBD are on.

The Blacklisted Dictator

At Ben Gurion my elderly mother (white, English and quite Jewish) was also subjected to a series of questions by a very attractive young Israeli woman who was working for El Al Security. I of course asked to be privately stripped searched by the said employee but unfortunately my request was rejected.

Dvar Dea

Several constructive comments on my part:
First this Grab person says in Israel they (shin bet) wouldn’t do it, of course not, there is no need in Ben Gurion airport there several rings of security, made up from, police, border guards, airport security and the IDF.
Second the guy with the hidden camera was in an excellent position to open fire on passengers just like at LAEX.
Third, this the only Issac Mgidi on the internet that I have found; no ‘Mgidi agricultural development’ found on google

and this is the only Jonathan Grab outside this story.

no conclusion should be jumped into, but maybe there is something to investigate.


I think I may have met Isaac Mgidi once in Israel actually. When I was on a tour a few years ago, I noticed a table of black South Africans at my hotel in Jerusalem one morning during breakfast.

The guy looks so familiar to me, as does his name. Had a distinct grayish bokkie. Also, I remember that the guy was there for agriculture development knowledge sharing. The guy I met was very pleasant and spoke quite warmly of Israel.

Perhaps if it is the same man, El-Al has put him off Israel. (Though, El-Al has almost put me off Israel before. I think they are a pretty arrogant and expensive airline).

The Blacklisted Dictator

he president of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies, Michael Bagraim, who is a lawyer, has taken on Garb's case and believes El Al's defence that he was employed by the Israeli government (and by Israel's security agency) is "sheer nonsense".

"The whole Jewish community of South Africa don't need this nonsense. They (El Al) are fuelling the conspiracy theorists that El Al is an extension of the Mossad (security agency), " Bagraim said.


Dvar Dea,
That is not the right Garb. Jonathan Garb is quite known in the SA Jewish community.


BD, I am confused. Garb not el al is saying that the airline is a front for the Mossad.

The Blacklisted Dictator


The FBI identified the gunman who shot and killed two people in the Los Angeles International Airport yesterday as Hesham Mohamed Hadayet, a 41-year-old Egyptian who came to the United States ten years ago.

On the Fourth of July holiday, Hadayet opened fire at the LAX ticket counter of the Israeli national airline El Al, killing two and wounding several others. He was subsequently shot and killed by an El Al security guard.

According to the FBI, the gunman used a .45-caliber handgun in the shooting, and was also armed with a 9-mm pistol and a six-inch hunting knife.

In the shootout, Hadayet killed 25-year-old El Al employee Victoria Hen and 46-year-old Jacob Aminov, who was waiting at the ticket counter.

A 61-year-old Canadian woman was shot in the ankle and a male victim was treated for injuries received from being pistol-whipped. The El Al security guard who finally shot Hadayet was also treated for a knife-wound.


Mike, Bagraim is right. It is in fact El-Al that first implied that they are a front for the Mossad because el al said Garb was employed by Israeli security. Bagraim's case against El-Al presumably hinges on Garb being employed by El-Al.

Bagraim is defending Garb in a case of alleged unfair dismissal. That is the case he took up and I assume he took it up well before Garb went crazy with these allegations.

As part of that defence, Bagraim needs to counter claims made by El Al that Garb was employed by the Israeli government (and hence an Israeli security agency). That was el-al's sloppy defence. Bagraim has said that the claim is sheer nonsense and fuels conspiracy theories that El Al is an extension of the Mossad.

On CB he commented about the dismissal saying that it was unfair.

Of course Bagraim should have never spoken to CB, but what he actually said might be correct. He spoke only about the case of unfair dismissal. He didnt say El-Al are a front for spooks. El-Al said they are a front for spooks!

I think the sentiment here that a member in a communal position cannot take on a labour lawsuit against an Israeli company is wrong-headed. This case is different because of the nature of the allegations that have subsequently been made and the fact that secrets have been given away. But in general if el al dismissed people unfairly then any Jewish person regardless of their communal position is entitled to take up the case. Perhaps the sentiments here should be limited to him staying on the case subsequent to learning of the smear tactics that Garb has decided to use in his vendetta against El-Al.

That said, Garb is nothing more than a disgruntled employee and his comments have done tremendous damage. The 3 former employees who have come out with these allegations share 45 years of service. Suddenly, when they aren't getting the pay they want, they have a conscience?

I'm angry not only with Garb and Bagraim, but with El-Al as well.



You wrote that "he (Bagraim) didn’t say El-Al are a front for spooks. El-Al said they are a front for spooks!"
When did EL-AL say this? At the moment the only ones flapping spook stories are Garb and CB. Why the anger at El-AL?


Steve as always a very sound and reasonable analysis.

Elal claiming that he was employed by the governemtn of Israel was not clear from the CB interview.

I also dont know what the legal status of elal is. Has it been privatised? Or is it still owned by the government of Israel like SAA is here?

I wanted to know if Bagraim was aware of what Garb was doing with CB? Did he know Garb would go way beyond making it a labour dispute. Becuase then for me it becomes a problem.

also, thinking aloud, what about the legal doctrine of sub judice? does it not apply here?


I doubt very much that Bagraim knew the extent of the Carte Blanche exposé.
Silly of him to think Carte Blanche would be exposing an unfair dismissal, but that's how people are.

DJ Gama, El al security is definitely not compromised. You are very naive to believe that this is the first time that they have been on a hidden video. I guarantee you that were an attack to be planned on the El Al counter, the attackers will have carried out their own information gathering and not just waited on Carte Blanche to do the leg work. Also, it is very clear at first glance who is employed by the airline - thousands of people that have flown El Al can positively identify these staff.


Good points from everyone.

I doubt whether we will ever know if Bagraim knew that they (the 3 of them) would be making these public allegations. When CB approched him, he should have realised that something was up.

Mike, its a good point on whether or not it has been privatised. Anyone know? I'm pretty sure it hasn't been and so, I guess you point is that its legitimate for them to say he is employed by the state without the inference that its a front fro spooks.

I would love to know why sub judice doesn't apply here. Does it apply if the case has yet to start?

Shaun, Bagraim alleges that El-Al are giving the Mossad conspiracy theory legs by responding that they don't employ Garb (and in so doing, he is giving it more legs!).

But the details aren't clear. Did El-Al make the claim in response to the labour lawsuit or in response to the security allegations?

Was forcing El-Al confusion about who employs him part of the case? If yes, then Bagraim should have stood down.


Bagraim has now stepped away from the case, according to the SAJR.

I think that was the right decision.


EL-AL stared recruiting volunteers to help with airport security over 35 years ago when Johannesburg became a regular profitable route.
As these members of the SA community were all volunteers and were not paid for their time there was no real paper trail that could track who their employer is/was.
When many of these volunteers started receiving regular salaries the payment was made from the State of Israel, in open bank transactions, nothing was hidden so that any confusion or suspicion of elicit activity was avoided.

The problem arose when many of the SA employees demanded better wages. They needed an address for their grievances. Officially they were not being paid by EL-AL, and they were not registered as employees of the State either.
Since El-AL security falls under the jurisdiction the Israel Security Services and considering that a huge portion of the airlines budget is security related, the next assumption was that these South African are employed directly by the Security Services of Israel.

EL-AL is semi privatized. It is listed on the Tel-Aviv stock exchange (HEBREW) the government owns about 14% of the shares, but the major share holder is Knafayim, a conglomerate of ex-military officials and well connected Israeli businessmen. The third major Share holder is the EL-AL employee benifit Union who control about 10% of the shares.



I want to make myself clear. I have no problem with Bagraim taking a case against El al or any other Israeli organization for something as trivial as an unfair dismissal case.

I have a problem with him, in his capacity as SAJBD chairman not being able to recognise that there may be a problem in grantin a tabloid programme an interview. He should always have the community's interests in mind. Any old Jewish lawyer could be excused for not spotting that something is fishy - for the chairman of the SAJBD it is inexcusable.

If he has indeed stepped down from the case this is commendable. But he should still go on record an apologise for being a right royal tit for not anticipating the obvious. It is debatable then whether he should resign, not as punishment, but because he has shown an ineptitude for an aspect of the job.

As for Garb. I'm sure he must be devastated that bagraim has dropped the case, I'm sure CB didn't pay him a very large sum for his story and that he wouldn't have weighed this up against the possibilty of his lawyer recusing.


RF2, I agree with everything you just said.

What on earth was he thinking when CB approached him for an interview.


I agree with RF2 here. I recall an incident at the Board of Deputies where the national director sent a private mail to an ANC member mocking Tony Leon. This email was illicitly obtained and distributed to various media outlets. The outcome was that the director resigned.

Bagraim's mistake was even worse. His mistake has brought SA Jews and Israel into even further disregard - we can ill afford this kind of negative (although false) publicity with SA's current political attitude towards the Jews and Israel. As President of the boards, and considering the precedent set by the previous national director, he really should step down.

The Blacklisted Dictator

(1) Bagraim should have seen that Garb's case against El Al was a potential can of worms. El Al has been in the SA media dock before and Bagraim must have been aware of this fact. There has been a hardcore anti-zionist campaign to destroy El Al. Why on earth did Bagraim not realize just how politically sensitive such a case could be?

(2) Bagraim's initial foolishness was compounded by his Carte Blanche interview.

(3) Should Bagraim stay on at The SAJBD? I doubt whether he will resign but his reputation as a communal leader is unfortunately damaged beyond repair,

The Blacklisted Dictator

I attach correspondence from April 2008 re El Al's "over zealous security forces". Bagraim must have been aware of these allegations. Why didn't alarm bells ring in his head when Garb asked him for legal representation re unfair dismissal? Bagraim must have been aware that the anti-zionist lobby was trying to destroy EL AL. And when approached by Carte Blanche he should have realized what they and the extreme anti-zionist lobby were up to.

07 April 2008

The Airports Company of South Africa
RE: Moosa Essop Incident at OR Tambo
The Media Review Network (MRN) & Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) is appalled that a Muslim family has been accosted by Israeli security agents at OR Tambo International Airport. This disgraceful conduct by foreign intelligence, demanding identity documents of South African citizens on South African soil is untenable.Whilst we welcome ACSA's undertaking to probe this matter, we insist that an unconditional undertaking that the Airports Company has not forfeited its security functions to foreign agents, in particular the intelligence force of the apartheid state of Israel.We also call on government to clarify the apparent Carte Blanche with which Israeli agents are able to humiliate innocent South African families at South African airports. We believe that unless Government, in particular the Ministry of Safety & Security is publicly able to reprimand El Al and it’s over zealous security forces, South Africans will continue to suffer the indignity and insults arising from racist and religious profiling.

9 April 2008
Your letter dated 3 April 2008 refers. As ACSA, we strongly sympathise with Mr Moosa Essop. We called him to get a better understanding of exactly what happened and if there were any ACSA employees involved in the incident. This is because we view such incidents in serious light since it is not ACSA’s policy to discriminate unfairly against any passenger or airport user on the basis of race, gender, religion or culture. We established that the Mr Essop was accosted by employees of the South African Police Services (SAPS) and the EL AL Israeli Airlines. Whilst we have made the two institutions aware of the incident, we are limited in terms of any further action that can be taken.Considering the above, it is clear this matter needs to be followed up with EL AL Israeli Airlines or the SAPS directly.SincerelyJason TshabalalaHead of SecurityO.R. Tambo International Airport

The Blacklisted Dictator


Dear Sir,

In response to a letter written by Dr L Kaplan about Michael Bagraim representing Jonathan Garb regarding his dismissal by El Al, you write, inter alia:

"Our letter writer is entering territory fraught with pitfalls. Should a lawyer not represent a rapist because he abhors the man and his deeds?"

I am not now commenting on whether your response is pertinent, foolish or condescending, but I would like to ask you... "Why are you, as editor of The SAJR, commenting at all? Is Mr Kaplan's letter addressing your editorship of The SAJR?"

I conclude that your response might inadvertently give your readership the impression that The SAJR is the mouthpiece of The SAJBD. You were wrong to comment and should have kept shtumm.

yours faithfully


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