Lufthansa issued an apology on Tuesday after Orthodox Jews complained that all visibly Jewish passengers were kicked off the flight because a group failed to follow the German carrier’s masking rules.
In a video of the incident, a Lufthansa supervisor could be heard saying “everyone has to pay for a couple” and that “these are Jews from JFK. The Jewish people who were the mess, who created the problems.
In a statement on Tuesday, Lufthansa said only “non-compliant guests” should have been barred from boarding and not the entire group. “Lufthansa regrets the circumstances surrounding the decision to exclude passengers from flight LH 1334 on May 4. Lufthansa sincerely apologizes,” it said.
“What happened is not in line with Lufthansa policies or values. We have zero tolerance for racism, anti-Semitism and discrimination of any kind,” the statement read.
However, some officials did not accept the airliner’s apology as sufficient.
In response to the statement, Yad Vashem director Dani Dayan wrote on Twitter, “Do you regret the ‘circumstances surrounding the decision? Don’t you regret the decision itself? And the behavior of your staff? And their attitude and statements? That’s not an excuse. We expect you to do better. Not too late.”
Don’t be silent on #Antisemitism!
— DansDeals (@DansDeals) May 9, 2022
The Anti-Defamation League blasted Lufthansa’s statement and called on the airline to further investigate the incident and compensate travelers who were prevented from flying.
“This lack of an apology does not admit fault or identify the banned passengers as Jewish. It also refers to them as a group, even though many were foreigners. They had one thing in common: being visibly Jewish. said the ADL in response to Lufthansa’s statement.
The video, first reported and shared by discount travel website Dan’s Deals, has been posted to YouTube and Instagram, where it has drawn untoward comparisons to the treatment of Jews during the Holocaust.
Passengers were also banned from buying another ticket to Budapest for 24 hours.
Jewish travelers were on an annual pilgrimage to visit the tomb of Rabbi Yeshayah Steiner, a supposed miraculous rabbi who died in 1925 and was buried in a village in northeastern Hungary. According to Dan’s Deals, about 135 to 170 Jews were on board the flight, 80 percent of whom were wearing visible Hasidic clothing.
According to a statement from Lufthansa on Monday after the incident, there was a larger group of passengers who “refused to wear the legally required mask (medical mask) on board”.
“For legal reasons, we cannot disclose the number of guests involved in the incident,” the statement obtained by Dan’s Deals said. “Lufthansa will continue to comply with all legal requirements, including the mask mandate imposed by the German government and those of the countries served. We do this without prejudice and [for] the well-being of all our guests.
Rabbi David Zwiebel of Agudath Israel of America wrote a letter to Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr on Monday asking that the incident be investigated after hearing “disturbing accounts.”
“People were being punished simply because they shared ethnicity and religion with the alleged rule breakers,” the letter said.