By Aleese Kopf
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
A Jewish woman was kicked off a JetBlue flight Monday night at Palm Beach International Airport after a heated discussion with another passenger about the conflict in Israel.
Dr. Lisa Rosenberg, a physician from New York, was returning home from vacation boarding a flight from PBIA to John F. Kennedy International Airport. She said she had just finished a phone conversation with a colleague when a woman said she was offended by Rosenberg’s remarks.
“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 added that she had never heard of the Palestinians seeking the same sort of justice against one of their own people.
Israel officials arrested six Jewish suspects Sunday who are believed to have burned to death a Palestinian teenager as revenge for the deaths of three Israeli teens. The teens were found dead in the West Bank. The Palestinian Islamist militant group Hamas has been blamed for the murders of the Israeli teens.
Rosenberg said that after she finished her call, a woman approached her, identified herself as Palestinian and said she was offended by the conversation. Words were exchanged and Rosenberg was asked to leave the plane.
JetBlue confirms Rosenberg was asked to exit the plane and complied.
Rosenberg said the woman used racial slurs, threatened her daughter and demanded Rosenberg be removed because she felt uncomfortable.
However, a representative from the airline said Rosenberg’s story “in no way reflects the report that we have.”
“A crew member may request a customer to deboard and be re-accommodated if the crew member feels as though the safety of the plane or customers on board is impacted, or the customer on board is unable to comply with in-flight instructions or obstructing a crew member’s duties,” said corporate communications manager Morgan Johnston.
Johnston said the report is not available to media and would not give details of what it said. The name of the other woman was not available.
Rosenberg described the incident as an “ugly, racially driven altercation.” She said “voices were raised” and that perhaps she was more vocal during the scene, but that it was because she felt victimized.
A Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputy arrived after Rosenberg had been escorted off the plane by airline representatives, sheriff’s spokeswoman Teri Barbera said.
Department of Airports spokeswoman Stephanie Richards said it’s “pretty rare” for a passenger to be kicked off a plane at PBIA.
Obstetrician Myles Kobren, who was on the phone with Rosenberg just before the incident, confirmed Rosenberg’s account of the conversation, but did not hear details of the discussion with the other passenger.
He said he remembers hearing a woman identify herself as Palestinian and said she didn’t like the comments Rosenberg was making, but then the call was disconnected.