A Jewish doctor from New York says she was kicked off a JetBlue flight in Palm Beach, Florida, last week because she made comments supportive of Israel in a cell phone conversation with a colleague. Dr. Lisa Rosenberg says that after another female passenger — who identified herself as a Palestinian — called her a “Zionist pig,” JetBlue flight crew ordered her to leave the plane as it stood on the ground at Palm Beach International Airport Monday.
Rosenberg was scheduled to return to New York City via John F. Kennedy International Airport following a vacation in Florida, when she says she was accosted by the other passenger while discussing the current crisis in Israel on the phone with a friend.
“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 said. “I said any other country would have made these students out to be martyrs and celebrating them.”
Rosenberg was referring to the arrest of several Jewish suspects in Israel believed to have burned a Palestinian teenager to death as retaliation for the murder of three Israeli teens earlier.
As she was finishing her call, the other passenger on the JetBlue plane angrily approached her, Rosenberg told Florida television station WPBF.
“A woman comes up to me and says to me ‘I’m a Palestinian,’ and she starts cursing at me. ‘Zionist pig. This is just the beginning,’” Rosenberg said.
During the phone call, Rosenberg says she had expressed concern for her daughter who was preparing to study in Israel. She says she made no negative or insensitive comments about Palenstinians during the conversation. But the other passenger used anti-Semitic slurs and made threats against her daughter, Rosenberg said.
The person on the other end of the phone, fellow doctor Myles Kobren, told The Palm Beach Post that Rosenberg’s account of the call was accurate and that he heard the voice of another woman identifying herself as Palestinian. But at that point the call was disconnected.
After the exchange, which Rosenberg described as “ugly” and “racially driven,” JetBlue flight crew asked her to get off the plane and though angered, she complied.
“I just was completely outraged that I would be asked to leave a plane, being a Jew,” Rosenberg said. “”I can’t believe it. I said, ‘Why would you do that?’ I said, ‘Why don’t you have her leave the plane?’ I said, ‘The passenger, the Palestinian passenger, didn’t feel comfortable with me, the Jewish doctor being on the plane?’”
But flight crew would not answer her questions, she said.
A spokesperson for JetBlue said the airline was in possession of a report on the incident but would not reveal what the report contains, saying only that Rosenberg’s account “in no way reflects the report that we have.”