Jewish groups have accused Frontier Airlines of anti-Semitism after the carrier canceled a flight from Miami to New York on Sunday following a clash with a group of Hasidic Jewish travelers linked to respect for masks.
The Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council accused Frontier cabin crew of “sectarian behaviorThe airline said the passengers were deplaned due to a “continued refusal to comply with the federal mask mandate.”
OJPAC, which shared video of the incident on Twitter, said the dispute arose because crew members ordered a Hasidic Jewish couple to disembark because their 18-month-old did not have a mask. Children under the age of 2 are exempt from the federal transport mask mandate.
The group accused the crew of applauding, exchanging high-fives and congratulating each other as the passengers exited the plane. The OJPAC said that an Orthodox Jewish person defended the couple and their extended family – who were in masks – started to leave the plane, “at that point, Frontier ordered everyone to get off. the plane”.
Frontier disputed this account on Twitter as well as in a statement to USA TODAY.
“On February 28, as flight 2878 from Miami to New York-La Guardia prepared to leave the departure gate, a large group of passengers repeatedly refused to comply with the US federal government’s mandate for mask, “spokeswoman Jennifer de la Cruz told USA TODAY. in an email. “Several people, including several adults, were repeatedly asked to wear their masks and refused to do so. Based on the continued refusal to comply with the federal mask mandate, the refusal to disembark the plane and the assault on the flight crew, local law enforcement has been engaged. The flight was eventually canceled. “
The airline company tweeted Sunday, “Repeated requests to comply with federal law necessitated their removal from the flight. The problem was not with a child under the age of 2.”
“Some people in this” group “are not even related to the family”, OJPAC fought back after seeing Frontier’s tweet. “They are grouped together under the name of Hasidim.”
According to Chabad.org, Hasidim is the plural term for Hasid, a Jewish person who is dedicated to “studying, contemplating, and internalizing the Hasidic teachings.”
Hasidim has been appropriated as a catch-all term used by outsiders to describe several different Jewish sects based on their dress and other common practices.
OJPAC called Frontier for failing to respond to allegations from those on board regarding the crew’s attitude towards the passengers.
Monday, the New York / New Jersey Anti-Defamation League called for a “full and transparent investigation”.
Asked about the allegations of anti-Semitism, de la Cruz said, “We are looking at all situations where a passenger needs to be removed from a flight.”
Although some Hasidic groups in New York City have clashed with officials over COVID-19 precautions such as wearing masks, this was not the case on the Frontier flight, Hasidic passenger Martin Joseph told the New York Times.
“We are law-abiding citizens,” he told the newspaper. “We have young children. We understand that the mask must be worn and that everyone must wear a mask, and that is the law. We are one million percent compliant.”
Contributing: Ryan Miller, USA TODAY; Joseph Spector and Jon Campbell, New York State Team