Lufthansa adopts IHRA definition of antisemitism after 100 Orthodox Jews were barred from flying

“I would be very glad if other German companies would follow Lufthansa’s example.”

By World Israel News Staff

Lufthansa, Germany’s flag carrier, announced on Thursday that it would adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)’s working definition of antisemitism after the airline came under fire for barring more than a 100 Orthodox Jews from boarding a flight over a masking dispute earlier this year.

The announcement took place at a special event hosted by the German airline in Washington DC.

“I welcome Lufthansa’s firm commitment to combating antisemitism and am especially pleased that it has adopted the IHRA definition today,” said Dr Felix Klein, the Federal Government Commissioner for Jewish Life in Germany and the Fight against Antisemitism.

Klein added that “for a long time I have been campaigning for as many businesses, associations, sports clubs and other groups as possible to take this definition seriously and to use it as an orientation in their activities. Not only has Lufthansa done this, but it has also installed an antisemitism officer and has introduced special training courses on antisemitism and discrimination for its staff.

“I believe these measures provide an appropriate and effective basis for preventing and combating antisemitism. I would be very glad if other German companies would follow Lufthansa’s example.”

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Lufthansa in July announced it was appointing a antisemitism officer and had established an internal task force following the barring of the Orthodox passengers on May 4.

The affair began on Wednesday when 127 Jews traveling in separate groups were barred from boarding a connecting flight at Frankfurt Airport.

The airliner said that some of the Jews who were passengers on flight LH401 from New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport had refused wear masks.

When the time came for boarding flight LH1334 bound for Budapest, all the identifiable Jewish passengers were prevented from entering. They were also barred from boarding any Lufthansa flight for 24 hours.

The passengers argued that this was collective punishment and antisemitic discrimination. Most of the Jews on the New York flight had been wearing masks appropriately, and they were not traveling together as a single group.

According to Dan’s Deals, the travel website that broke the story, the only two Jews allowed aboard the flight to Budapest were not identifiably Jewish; they were wearing baseball caps and polo shirts.

Despite the episode, an independent investigation commissioned by Lufthansa said there was no evidence of institutional antisemitism in the company.

Lufthansa issued a statement following the incident expressing regret, but critics said it did not go far enough as an apology.

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“While Lufthansa is still reviewing the facts and circumstances of that day, we regret that the large group was denied boarding rather than limiting it to the non-compliant guests,” the airline said in a statement at the time.