NEW YORK (JTA) – A Jewish woman was ejected from a JetBlue flight after arguing about the Israel-Hamas conflict with a Palestinian passenger.
The Jewish woman, physician Lisa Rosenberg of New York, was asked to leave the July 7 John F. Kennedy Airport-bound flight from Palm Beach International Airport not long after concluding a telephone conversation about Israel’s conduct in the conflict. Another passenger, who overheard the conversation, began arguing with Rosenberg.
“I was saying how it was good Israel found the students that killed the Palestinian teenager and how it was exemplary not making them into heroes, but seeking to publicly try them,” Rosenberg told the Palm Beach Post. “I said any other country would have made these students out to be martyrs and celebrating them.”
After the phone call concluded, Rosenberg said a woman approached her, identified herself as a Palestinian, and the two then had an “ugly, racially driven altercation” in which the other woman called her a “Zionist pig,” according to media reports.
But a commenter on the website Gothamist, who identified herself as the passenger who confronted Rosenberg, said that Rosenberg “was the only person yelling and actually said a Palestinian on the flight was a ‘danger to her’. She was removed from that flight for making a scene, refusing to sit in her seat and not complying with staff. Other passengers , if they come forward, will verify this.”
JetBlue confirmed that it asked Rosenberg to exit the plane, which was still on the ground in Florida and said that Rosenberg’s account is not accurate.
“The story presented in no way reflects the reports from our crew, whose decision to remove the customer we support,” the airline said in a statement.
A JetBlue spokeswoman told JTA that the details of the incident, including the identity of the other passenger, could not be disclosed “for privacy reasons.”
“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,” corporate communications manager Morgan Johnston said.
Rosenberg flew back to New York the next day, but not on JetBlue.
“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.