Germany’s flag carrier denounced for collective punishment against Jewish passengers following mask dispute.
By Ben Cohen, The Algemeiner
More than 100 Orthodox Jews were prevented by the German airline Lufthansa from boarding a connecting flight at Frankfurt Airport last week, following a row over masking requirements that resulted in what passengers alleged was a collective punishment.
The 127 Jewish passengers, who were traveling in separate groups last Wednesday, were not allowed to board a connecting flight to Budapest as a result of the claimed refusal of some of them to wear masks on the plane from New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport to Frankfurt.
One of the passengers told the German-language FAZ news outlet that while a handful of the Jewish passengers had not worn their masks correctly, he and most of the others had done so.
He went onto accuse Lufthansa of deliberately excluding passengers who were visibly Jewish from the connecting flight, instead of the handful who reportedly did not comply with the masking rules on the leg from New York.
According to the travel website Dan’s Deals, which reported extensively on the incident, several of the Jewish passengers were traveling on a pilgrimage to the grave of Yeshaya Steiner, a revered Hasidic rabbi who is buried in the Hungarian town of Bodrogkeresztúr.
A number of passengers told the site that they had not witnessed any major disputes around mask wearing during the flight from New York.
“From talking to several passengers in economy, it seems like there were a couple of isolated masking issues in economy class, both among some visibly Hasidic Jews as well as non-Jews,” the site said.
Once the flight arrived in Frankfurt, the passengers made their way to the departure gate for the journey to Budapest, only to be refused boarding.
One passenger posted a video to Twitter that showed a discussion with a Lufthansa agent at the gate who admitted that Jews had been banned from the flight to the Hungarian capital.
When the passenger pointed out that non-Jewish passengers had been permitted to board the plane to Budapest, asking pointedly why it was “only the Jewish people paying for other people’s crimes,” the agent responded, “because it’s Jews coming from JFK.” When the passenger expressed his shock, the agent responded: “If you want to do it like this, Jewish people who were the mess, who made the problems.”
The incredulous passenger then asked: “So Jewish people on the plane made a problem, so all Jews are banned from Lufthansa for the day?” The agent answered: “Just from this flight.”
A spokeswoman for Lufthansa told The Algemeiner on Monday that the airline was currently investigating the incident and would comment further once its inquiries were complete.
An initial statement alleged that “a larger group of passengers could not be carried yesterday on Lufthansa flight LH1334 from Frankfurt to Budapest, because the travelers refused to wear the legally mandated mask (medical mask) on board.”
Other videos filmed at the departure gate contained disturbing scenes of German police in a confrontation with the visibly upset Jewish passengers. One person asked the officers “why do you hate us?” while another used the word “Nazi,” causing one officer to react furiously.
The video shows the officer barking, “Who was it? Who said the ‘n’ word??” as he attempted to identify the speaker.
Another Jewish passenger then told him, “Sir, I’m sorry that happened, but you can understand how he feels, right?” The officer did not respond.