‘We paid for tickets and we were just harassed. It was an anti-Semitic episode. We want to make sure this doesn’t happen again’
By Dorothy Cummings McLean for LifeSiteNews
MIAMI, Florida, March 3, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — Witnesses say that a flight crew cheered and high-fived each other after they successfully removed a large Orthodox Jewish family from a plane over masking compliance.
Last Sunday, Martin Joseph, 51, and 21 of his family members were ordered to leave Frontier Airlines Flight 2878, which was scheduled to fly from Miami to LaGuardia Airport in New York City. According to Joseph, the family, composed of 13 adults and nine children, was thrown off because his 15-month-old grandson was not wearing a mask.
Frontier Airlines contradicted this account, saying adult members of the family were also not wearing masks.
“Members of a large group, including adults, refused to wear masks as flight 2878 was preparing for departure from MIA-LGA. Repeated requests to comply with federal law necessitated their removal from the flight. The issue did not stem from a child under 2,” the airline stated on Twitter.
However, video footage of the incident seems to show adult family members wearing masks.
Witnesses unrelated to the family have stated on video that as the family, who were wearing distinctive Hasidic dress and spoke Yiddish, began to leave the plane, the crew cheered and high-fived each other, saying “We did it!” One witness reported that crew members said, “A job well done to those Jews.”
A spokeswoman for the airline stated that she had “not seen any information that would support these claims.”
However, cheering and applause is audible in video footage of the incident, though it is unclear where it originates from and if it came from airline staff.
Joseph told the UK’s Daily Mail that there had been no problems until after the whole family had taken their seats. Most of the family were seated in the back rows of the plane, and eventually a female flight attendant approached Joseph’s pregnant daughter and objected to the fact that her infant son was not wearing a mask. The young mother explained that the infant was under two, and in fact the mask-wearing regulations excuse children his age. However, soon a voice on the plane’s loudspeaker said that all the passengers in the last two rows were required to leave.
The grandfather said that he had attempted to mollify the flight attendants but failed. As the staff insisted that the family leave, all the children began to cry and the young mother, who is six months’ pregnant, began to feel contractions, he said.
There are reports that Orthodox Jews unrelated to the family were also asked to leave the plane.
Ultimately, the flight was cancelled. Footage of the incident showed the Hasidic family gradually making their way down the narrow aisle, staff scurrying about at the front of the plane, children wailing, and outraged onlookers shouting. In one video, a man not wearing Hasidic dress scolds the flight staff saying, “This is going to go all over the news” as another man shouts, “This is Nazi Germany!” There are also cries of “Anti-Semites!” and “Jew-haters!”
The video also recorded a woman explaining that the flight attendants had been upset because some of the children had taken off their masks “for a few minutes” to eat a snack.
In a different video, a passenger unrelated to the family says that he was thrown off the plane because he was taking videos of the fracas. Another eyewitness said she saw the entire family boarding the plane wearing masks.
Joseph reported that Frontier Airlines did not offer the family any apology for the way they were treated, and the company also did not offer the family any accommodation. They were forced to pay to stay in a Holiday Inn that night, he said, and flew home to New York on Monday with Jet Blue. The grandfather is convinced that the family was singled out because they were Hasidic Jews.
“We’re law-abiding citizens,” he told The New York Times.
“We have small children. We understand that the mask has to be worn, and everybody has to wear a mask, and that’s the law. We comply one million percent,” Joseph continued.
“We paid for tickets and we were just harassed. It was an anti-Semitic episode. We want to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
This is not the first time airline staff has used masks as an excuse to bully parents. In December 2020, United Airlines forced a married couple and their two-year-old daughter to leave a plane because the toddler refused to wear a mask. In this incident, the family had boarded in Denver, Colorado and expected to fly to Newark, New Jersey to visit family over Christmas. Video filmed by the child’s mother shows the dad trying to put a mask on the little girl as the family is seated on the plane. The toddler does not cooperate. Then a United staff member approaches and tells the family to “grab” their things and leave the plane. The mom and dad remonstrate, but the United Airlines agent is adamant that they must leave.
The video footage was later censored by two social media platforms.
Meanwhile, although it took Martin Joseph and his family back to Brooklyn without incident this week, JetBlue’s record on infant mask-shaming is not immaculate. In August 2020, a New York mother named Chaya Buck told media that she and her six children were treated in an “inhuman way” when they were thrown off a JetBlue flight in Orlando, Florida because her two-year-old, who had a pacifier in her mouth, kept pulling her mask off.
The mother said that she did not think it was “feasible for a child who is 2 years old to wear a mask.” Buck added that she does not think “under 4 is even possible to force a child to wear a mask, and especially if they have a pacifier in their mouth.”
“A 2-year-old child does not have the logic as an older kid and doesn’t understand the consequences of not wearing the mask,” she said.