Accusations of discrimination and antisemitism followed an incident on Sunday in which a group of Hasidic Jews were thrown off a plane in Miami by staff who claimed they were not wearing masks.
Several smartphone videos of the incident on a Frontier Airlines plane were posted online by the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council (OJPAC). They show the Hasidic Jews exiting the plane wearing masks, while another Jewish passenger shouts “antisemites” at the staff and “this is going all over the news, you’re all going to suffer the consequences of this.” Some passengers claimed that the incident was sparked because a young child was not wearing a mask, which the airline has denied.
“Yesterday, while flight 2878 from Miami to New York-La Guardia was preparing to leave the gate, a large group of passengers repeatedly refused to comply with the U.S. government’s federal mask mandate,” Frontier said in statement.
“Multiple people, including several adults, were asked repeatedly to wear their masks and refused to do so. Based on the continued refusal to comply with the federal mask mandate, refusal to disembark the aircraft and aggression towards the flight crew, local law enforcement was engaged. The flight was ultimately canceled,” the company continued.
A witness said afterwards in one video that they saw airline staff high-fiving each other and saying, “a job well done to those Jews.” Other witnesses did not mention a remark about Jews, but said that the staff were congratulating each other. Temima Paley, a passenger who saw the incident, told The Algemeiner, “I witnessed innocent people get attacked only because they are Jewish and have a distinct Hasidic look.”
“They were fully wearing masks except for their 16-month-old baby who was eating a snack,” she said. “It was very clear from being on that plane that the workers had an agenda to start something.”
“Two workers looked at each other and said, ‘Lets do this!’ They ran to the back and yelled and did what they did and when the couple got up with their kids the flight attendants were clapping and cheering, ‘We did it!’” she claimed. OJPAC co-founder Yossi Gestetner said “The Frontier airline wants the public to believe that the 12 Hasidim ordered off the plane, some of whom are ‘related’ only by being in the same ethnic group, walked into the airport and on to the airplane while wearing masks and left with masks on as seen on videos, but decided to collectively remove masks while seated in the airplane.”
“The airline also claims that there was a ‘refusal to disembark the aircraft,’ but video of the 12 people shows that they gather to leave in an orderly fashion,” he pointed out.
“The airline’s claim is therefore a demonstrable lie,” Gestetner asserted, “and as such raises questions about the airline’s credibility regarding the mask allegation.”