NEW YORK (JTA) – Internal JetBlue reports say that a Jewish doctor was booted from a recent flight because she was unruly and disobeyed crew instructions, not because a Palestinian passenger took issue with her views on the Israel-Hamas conflict.
The woman, Lisa Rosenberg of New York, was kicked off her July 7 flight from Palm Beach International Airport to New York’s Kennedy Airport following an argument with a fellow passenger who identified herself as a Palestinian.
Rosenberg claimed that the other passenger started the fight after overhearing a phone conversation in which Rosenberg was discussing the Israel-Gaza conflict. Amidst an “ugly, racially driven altercation,” Rosenberg said, the other passenger called her a “Zionist pig.” Eventually, crew members ejected Rosenberg from the plane, which was still on the ground in Florida.
“I just was completely outraged that I would be asked to leave a plane, being a Jew,” Rosenberg told ABC’s local affiliate in Palm Beach County.
But two internal JetBlue reports obtained by airline industry blogger and consultant Steven Frischling “both squarely paint Dr. Rosenberg as the sole instigator of the events on board Flight 454,” according to Frischling. ABC’s local affiliate in Florida said it obtained the same internal reports and corroborated Frischling’s account.
“Both internal reports of the incident clearly lay out Dr. Rosenberg as the person who was in the midst of spewing hateful comments towards the Palestinian passenger in seat 9C, not vice versa,” Frischling wrote.
The reports show that Rosenberg accused the other passenger of being a “Palestinian murderer” and that “her people are all murderers and that they murder children.” As Rosenberg continued to rant and tried to move closer to the other passenger, onlookers began to express concern for their safety, the reports said, according to Frischling. While crew members tried unsuccessfully to end Rosenberg’s confrontation, Rosenberg ratcheted up her rhetoric, implying that the other passenger had explosives in her bag and intended to blow up the aircraft in flight, the reports say. Eventually, Rosenberg directed her ire at the crew members who were trying to get her to calm down.
Rosenberg was then kicked off the flight.
JetBlue declined to publicly release the reports, citing privacy reasons, but confirmed that Rosenberg’s account “in no way reflects the reports from our crew, whose decision to remove the customer we support.”
JetBlue’s corporate communications manager, Morgan Johnston, said, “A crew member may request a customer to deboard and be re-accommodated if the crew member feels as though the safety of the plane or customers on board is impacted, or the customer on board is unable to comply with in-flight instructions or obstructing a crew member’s duties.”