“Flight EZY3920 from Barcelona to Paris Charles de Gaulle on 1 May 2016 with 180 passengers on board returned to the gate in Barcelona and was met by police due to a group of passengers behaving in a disruptive manner,” said Cockburn, as quoted by JTA in several Jewish publications.
“All passengers were asked to disembark at the request of the police so they could speak to a small number of passengers in order to investigate the incident…. [EasyJet] does not tolerate abusive or threatening behavior on board,” he added.
JewishPress.com and Cockburn exchanged phone calls numerous times on Monday but each time JP returned the call, Cockburn was unavailable or could not be reached. Messages were left on both sides and emails were exchanged as well, but contact was elusive.
Even if some passengers were “disruptive” it still is not clear why an entire flight was forced to disembark, nor why only the Jewish passengers were required to remain secluded for six hours in a separate section of the terminal under armed police guard, nor why their captors refused to answer their questions.
Cockburn’s contention that the Jewish passengers were separated at the request of the police so they could be questioned under investigation does not make much sense, unless the police were only probing Jews. However, the spokesperson’s final comment that the airline “does not tolerate abusive or threatening behavior on board” seems to imply that Jews were behaving in an abusive or threatening behavior on board prior to takeoff.
A group of Jewish families that included elderly people, pregnant women and children were taken off an EasyJet passenger plane in Barcelona waiting to depart for Paris, according to a report on the European Jewish Press.
One of the passengers, a Holocaust survivor, said the behavior of police who came to take the travelers off the flight was similar to that of the German Nazi SS police during World War II.
The families were removed after the plane had been sitting on the tarmac for more than two hours, waiting for departure. Many of the Jewish men were wearing kippahs, making them clearly identifiable.
They were returning home to Paris after having spent the Passover holiday in Spain, but were removed from the flight by armed Spanish police officers.
Despite the fact that the British-owned EasyJet flight was en route to Paris from Barcelona, the flight attendant chose to speak only Spanish when she told the Jewish group they were being removed from the flight.
When they asked her to speak in French, she declined, saying she could not speak a word in French or English.
One of the Jewish passengers, a 15-year-old boy, tried to use sign language, motioning with his hands to ask what was going on. In response the flight attendance called the Spanish Guardia Civil Police, a passenger told JPUpdates.
Another passenger, Franck Ben, described the nightmare in a French-language Facebook post, saying he and others felt like they were being treated like terrorists. Ben said the police tried to take away the teenager who had tried to communicate with hand gestures, but his mother intervened and would not allow him to be taken without her.
Placed under armed guard by the Spanish Guardia Civil Police — who were hardly civil — the frightened Jewish passengers were held for six long hours in a secluded area of the terminal without air conditions without being told why; nor were they told when they might be allowed to leave.
What really happened on EasyJet flight EZY 3920 from Barcelona to Paris
My turn to tell what happened on EasyJet flight EZY 3920 from Barcelona to Paris, [which was scheduled to depart] 1 May 2016 at 13:05 [1:05 PM].
May wife and two children (aged 3 and 1) and I boarded with more than 150 other Jewish people after a superb trip to Spain organized for the Jewish Passover celebration. We were all very relaxed, in good humor and cheerful.
Everyone was seated, with seatbelts on, the plane was on the runway. It was near takeoff.
During the security briefing [to the passengers], one of the flight attendants named OMAR allowed himself to say “CHUTT” in a loud voice [i.e., “shush!” in an implicitly rude manner] to an old person who was speaking quietly to his 15-year-old grandson, blasting instructions at him in Spanish and not English. The old man, not understanding Spanish, stopped talking.
I was seated at the front of the plane in seat 3C and I saw OMAR complain to the cabin chief about the bad behavior of a passenger; the cabin chief responded in English that they [would] see about that in Paris.
About 30 minutes later, the attendants complained over the microphone that a person didn’t want to secure her children and [therefore] we couldn’t take off. One of my neighbors offered to go speak to this family, as perhaps they couldn’t speak English.
This man got up and I saw him return a minute later telling me he didn’t understand: everyone was secured, there was no problem.
And for another 20 minutes, we waited. An attendant named Christina went back and forth with the one named Omar, and spoke constantly over the microphone in a hurried and [unhealthy; probably “unprofessional”] manner. She spoke in Spanish or a really inferior English, proclaiming that she didn’t speak a word of French.
Not understanding, a teenage boy of 15 asked with hand gestures “What’s going on? What are you saying?” while this Christina person spoke in the microphone in SPANISH, knowing perfectly well that not one passenger understood the language.
Then, with the passengers as a whole completely confused, after an hour of waiting the cabin chief and the captain decided to return [to the Barcelona airport terminal] to remove the teenager [from the plane].
After 20 minutes, the plane stopped next to 4 Guardia Civil vehicles [apparently next to the terminal].
A half dozen men climbed into the plane wanting to [take the 15-year-old for questioning]. His mother intervened, saying he was not an adult, if they wanted him to take him, they’d have to take her too. They [the men] refused. They wanted the young man, by himself.
The police not speaking a word of English, the language barrier was a real problem.
During this time, the captain remained silent, leaning against the wall, letting the situation deteriorate.
The family [of the 15-year-old, apparently] was trying to understand and explain, but the attendants were vile and heartless and demonstrated a really overzealous [attitude].
5 minutes later, a lady succumbed to a panic attack and fainted amidst the tension, panic, and crying of numerous children.
So I decided to go speak to the captain and ask him to make a decision and take managerial responsibility for the situation; he looked at me and said in English that he didn’t really know what to do and he didn’t want to take off if everyone wasn’t seated. An inadequate response in view of the situation with 250 agitated passengers [the real number would not have exceeded 180 on this flight. – J.E.].
Behind me, a man, the father of 6 children, raised his voice although without unseemly gestures or vulgar words, I tried to calm him down but the [heat of confinement in the plane; i.e., the emotional agitation] made the atmosphere electric.
The police made the decision to disembark everyone and to take us to a place in the airport apart from everyone else.
We had all been sequestered and left stuck (prohibited from going out to smoke a cigarette or stretch or get some air) in a room without air conditioning. We were very hot. The babies were red and hot and many of the mothers had nowhere to sit. They [the babies, children] were hungry and crying, as the parents had not expected to have to plan for a 9-hour trip, but only for 3. A pregnant woman was crying on the phone. Children ran around and cried, not understanding… An older person felt ill… It was a nightmare! All this while in the room, we were surrounded by Guardia Civil officers, with guns and batons, as if we were terrorists!
Yet there were only families and old people on this flight, we have proof of that with photos. Next, we waited 5 hours, from 1400 to 1900 [2 PM to 7 PM] in this room, in horrible conditions. Parents went to ask the Spanish law enforcement officers for information, and if they knew when we might [be allowed to board again]? And if there was a reason why were all stuck under guard in this room for an indefinite period? They [the officers] didn’t answer. One of the Guardia Civil men violently shoved a father when he went to ask a question… To document this, a woman began to record his violent actions. One of the men [i.e., a Guardia Civil officer] literally leaped on her, shoving her violently and taking her phone from her.
Around 1730 [5:30 PM], 12 Guardia Civil officers, batons in hand, forcibly took away a 40-year-old father of 6 with a kippa on his head who merely raised his voice a bit in requesting that someone explain to us [what was going on], help us in this situation.
I fully understood at that moment that anyone who didn’t do exactly as they said [i.e., the Guardia Civil officers] would be immediately set upon.
An old man [among the passengers from the flight], a Holocaust survivor, said of these [Spanish law enforcement] men, “These guys, this is what the SS was like during the Shoah.” Needless to say, they made us all think of the SS and the Gestapo.
We remained uncertain of when we would be able to get home for six long hours. In this room where we were stifled by the heat and weren’t allowed to leave. I think at this stage, we could call this nightmare a hostage situation. Sequestration in atrocious conditions. And we were helpless. We contacted [Assembly] Deputy Meyer Habib from there. He notified the Quai d’Orsay [the French foreign ministry] and [Foreign Minister] Manuel Valls. We also tried to contact France 3 [media network] and BfmTv from the room, without much success.
Finally, after six long and interminable hours, they decided to let us reembark, they assembled the passengers. They wouldn’t let the 15-year-old young man or his 70- and 80-year-old grandparents on this flight, or the 40-year-old father [i.e., the one who raised his voice]. [Those particular passengers] had to take another flight, scheduled for 2 hours later. More interminable waiting.
As we were reboarding, they stopped a young woman of 22 and told her that if she didn’t erase the videos and photos she had taken, she wouldn’t be allowed to fly. Her mother begged them on her behalf. They [the authorities] kept our passports and ID cards so they could threaten us that way.
It was my turn to board, and at that point, to my great surprise, I was denied boarding, for the sole reason that the captain asked something of the police [apparently about the narrator].
I went to see the police officers at the departure point, who promised to see the captain and let him know I’d rather help them all out by translating between English and French [i.e., speak to the captain directly], but the captain didn’t want to hear about it.
The policeman said quietly in my ear: here, we are under the captain’s order, if he doesn’t want you, you don’t go.
My wife would have to travel alone, 5 months pregnant and with two children 1 and 3 years old.
She [melted down, basically – panicked, screamed, cried] but they came back again to look for me [apparently with batons out].
At 5 months along, any shock or major stress could be fatal for the baby.
Seeing that I remained calm and impassive, 5 officers went again to explain my situation and that of my wife to the captain who apparently didn’t have the guts to make a sensible decision all day, but fortunately, I was allowed on the flight at the last minute.
Entering into the plane, the flight crew had changed out, one attendant spoke excellent French, the two others fluent English and everything went fine with them. Needless to say, what we had just lived through was shocking and traumatic for each one of us. Let it not be forgotten that the 250 passengers [it was actually 180 max] were women, children, parents, old people, babies, etc. There could hardly be anyone more inoffensive! And we were treated like common animals.
Having arrived 2 May in Paris, my wife had a visit with the gynecologist and the verdict came down, a situation like this put the health of our future child in grave danger.
I am lodging today a complaint against EasyJet for discrimination suffered during flight EZY 3920.
It is obvious to anyone who reads the above account of Alain Sayada (translated by J.E.Dyer) that the incident demands investigation by the governments of Spain, France and Britain, all of whose nationals were involved in this Entebbe-like affair.
A spokesperson for the British-based EasyJet airline confirmed the veracity of the incident.
“We would like to apologize to customers for the inconvenience and the delay,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “The safety and well-being of passengers and crew is always EasyJet’s priority.” Police were called, the statement added, “due to a group of passengers behaving in a disruptive manner.” JPUpdates asked the airline about the allegations of the families regarding their separation due to their faith.
The response of the airline’s spokesperson is illuminating: “All of our staff are carefully selected and undergo a rigorous training program to maintain our high level of customer care. To confirm, we have a zero tolerance towards discrimination of any kind.”
EasyJet is a British low-cost airline based at London Luton Airport. It may be of interest to note that Luton’s Labour councilor Aaysegul Gurbuz, 20, was suspended last month over claims that she called Adolf Hitler ‘the greatest man in history,’ according to the April 9, 2016 edition of the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper.
Gurbuz is accused of posting a number of anti-Semitic tweets between 2011 and 2014, including one in 2013 that said ‘the Jews are so powerful in the U.S. It’s disgusting.’
British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis came out in The Telegraph on Tuesday with a surprisingly hard-hitting, sharply critical op-ed taking up the gauntlet tossed at the Jewish world by dozens of members of the UK Labour Party.
The chief rabbi began by stating pointedly that claims of figures on the hard Left of the British political spectrum that Zionism is separate from Judaism, “are a fiction. They are a willful distortion of a noble and integral part of Judaism.
“In recent days, we have heard anti-Semitism in the Labour Party described variously as “a smear” and as “mood music” being manipulated by political opponents of [Labour leader] Jeremy Corbyn. There has been nothing more disheartening in this story than the suggestion that this is more about politics than about substance,” he continued.
“If this inquiry turns out to be no more than a sticking plaster, designed to placate and diffuse until after the elections this week, the problem will surely get worse and not better,” he warned.
“Jeremy Corbyn has stated that his party “will not tolerate anti-Semitism in any form,” and I very much hope that this inquiry will deliver on that pledge and be followed by decisive action. All political parties share in the responsibility to rid our society of anti-Semitism but we cannot achieve that objective with political posturing or empty promises of action never to be fulfilled.”
Corbyn, Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister David Cameron, and former London mayor and Labour Party member Ken Livingstone are set to give evidence to an inquiry by the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee into UK anti-Semitism, according to The Guardian newspaper.
But as The Telegraph pointed out in a piece on Tuesday, Corbyn appointed a non-Jew – Shami Chakrabarti, former director of the Liberty human rights campaign group – to investigate the allegations of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party.
“Anti-Semitism is defined as prejudice or discrimination against Jews (italics original). By excluding a lead Jewish voice, well isn’t the Labour inquiry doing exactly that?” posited journalist Angela Epstein – a secular Jew.
We didn’t have to wait for the results of the independent inquiry into charges of anti-Semitism promised by the head of Britain’s Labour Party to see the scale of the problem. On Monday, the Telegraph reported that what it describes as the party’s “compliance unit” had already been overwhelmed by the problem of dealing with charges of anti-Semitism because it lacked the resources to look into so many cases. Nevertheless, the paper reported that Labour had already suspended 50 party members for anti-Semitism and as many as 20 in the last two weeks. But the problem isn’t going to be solved by a bigger inquiry or the sort of meaningless mea culpas that we’ve heard from some Labour figures.
The answer to what lies behind the string of disgusting comments that Labour is trying to rationalize and/or punish is the straight line that runs from the anti-Zionist agitation that is mainstream opinion among European and British left-wing elites to anti-Semitism. The same can be said of similar efforts to demonize and isolate Israel in the United States. What starts with agitation on college campuses will, if left unchecked, ultimately lead to politicians engaging in anti-Semitic invective.
As Tom Wilson wrote here yesterday in a cogent summary of the events of the past week, part of the problem is Labour’s growing dependence on radicalized Muslim communities as key elements of its base. But the willingness to pander to groups that retain anti-Jewish attitudes brought with them from the Middle East only provides part of the explanation. The odd alliance between leftists and Islamists is rooted in the way many intellectuals link imperialism, colonialism (the original sins of modern Europe in the eyes of the elite), and Zionism. That fallacious analogy in which the national liberation movement of the Jewish people is damned as an offshoot of Western colonialism has created a slippery slope on which the left has found itself scrambling to avoid being seen as encouraging hate while embracing positions that lead inevitably to prejudice.
Nothing could have illustrated this more plainly than what happened the day before the news of the Labour suspensions broke. Though Corbyn denounced anti-Semitism in a May Day speech on Monday, on Sunday Labour’s spokesman insisted that the party head would not disavow his contacts with both the Hamas and Hezbollah terror groups. The statement represented Corbyn’s connection to anti-Israel terrorists as merely meeting with people that he disagrees in the course of his advocacy for Palestinian rights; the truth is that he has done a lot more than that. Prior to being Labour’s leader he had embraced Hamas and encouraged dialogue with the group that runs Gaza as a terrorist state. He has also spoken of the equally radical and violent Hezbollah group as his “friends.”
To be fair to Corbyn, in this respect, he is hardly alone on the left. The willingness to treat the Jewish state’s terrorist foes as freedom fighters while demonizing Israelis is merely the logical conclusion for those who regard Israel’s creation as illegitimate and who oppose its right of self-defense.
Is it possible to hold such views while still treating Jews with respect and condemning religious prejudice? That’s what many anti-Israel activists claim, but they are all either deceiving themselves or lying.
Let’s be crystal clear about this. Those who seek to deny to the Jewish people what they would not think of refusing any other people on earth — the right to a state and to live in peace and security on at least a part of their ancient homeland — is an act of bias. The term for acts of bias against Jews is anti-Semitism.
There is simply no analogy to the anti-Zionist insistence that Jews have no rights to any part of the land of Israel or the territory of the former British Mandate for Palestine and any other territorial controversies elsewhere on the globe. Not everyone supports the rights of Catalans, Basques, or Kurds to their own separate nations. But no one seeks to force them out of their homes or considers their national movements inherently illegitimate. Only Zionism is treated in this manner. Only the movement to give Jews the same rights accorded other peoples is passionately opposed around the globe in this way.
The fervor of the anti-Zionists always winds up in anti-Semitic slanders because the source of the passion that drives this effort stems from traditional hatred of Jews. The problem isn’t just that a lot of British left-wing politicians have loose tongues and no self-control when it comes to venting on social media. Nor is it a matter of Jews misinterpreting criticism of Israel’s government as anti-Semitism, as many on the left disingenuously claim. If you think Jews are uniquely unworthy of the same rights as others you are not only practicing a form of prejudice; you are inevitably going to wind up saying vile things that demonstrates this bias.
It is to be hoped that the spectacle of Labour’s anti-Semitism problem will further discredit Corbyn and cause both his party members and the rest of the British people to draw the right conclusions from his faction’s flirtation with anti-Zionism. We should encourage such a development both in Britain and elsewhere in Europe where such attitudes have also worked their way back into the mainstream seven decades after the Holocaust. But it would be foolish to think that the widespread opposition to Israel’s right to exist in Europe is not a function of the legacy of centuries of anti-Semitic hate that festered on the continent.
All of this should give pause to the growing numbers of Americans who are either supporting anti-Zionism in academia or treating it as a legitimate expression of opinion rather than hate. What we learned in Britain in the last week is that you can’t create a firewall against religious hatred while simultaneously nurturing a movement that is rooted in bias against Jews. If you tolerate or rationalize groups that single out Israel and Jewish rights for opposition — whether it is called BDS or some other euphemism for Jew-hatred — you are inevitably going to wind up excusing anti-Semitic hate.
But few of those suspensions ever saw the light of day in the media, and the 13 that were made public “are said to be just the tip of the iceberg,” The Telegraph reported Tuesday.
“Senior sources reveal that Labour’s compliance unit has been swamped by the influx of hard-left supporters following Jeremy Corbyn’s election” as head of the party, according to the report.
Corbyn himself admitted for the first time in an interview with the Daily Mirror on Monday night that although there is a problem, it is “not huge.” He worked hard to minimize the crisis, saying, “What there is is a very small number of people that have said things that they should not have done. We have therefore said they will be suspended and investigated.”
London residents go to the polls on Thursday, but the latest analyses by pundits predict Labour stands to lose more than 100 seats thanks to the racist and anti-Semitic remarks over the past two years by party lawmakers.
Labour suspended three councillors within seven hours Monday over virulently anti-Semitic posts on Twitter and Facebook last week. Two called for Israeli Jews to be “relocated to America” and the third compared a former Premier League soccer star to Hitler.
One of the councillors was Ilyas Aziz, from Nottingham, who said on Facebook, “it would be wiser to create Israel in America it’s big enough. They could relocate even now [sic]”.
Former Blackburn mayor Salim Mullah was the second, and Shah Hussain of Burnley council was the third. Hussain tweeted to Israeli soccer star Yossi Bennayoun, “you and your country doing the same thing that hitler did to ur race in ww2 (sic).”
According to The Telegraph, up to 20 Labourites were suspended within the past two weeks, though not all were made public.
The U.S. Pentagon is becoming concerned about the Da’esh (ISIS) terror group hacking activities after the terrorists posted a “hit list” online of 75 U.S. military staff it claims were involved in drone strikes in Syria.
A few days earlier, Da’esh posted the personal details online of more than 3,000 ordinary New Yorkers, along with various threats. The FBI is still visiting the 3,600 New Yorkers on the apparent “hit list” which was apparently intended to instill fear in the U.S. population, but said although people should use caution, there is no reason to be especially afraid.
The group urged its supporters to target those on the list, proclaiming “we want them #Dead.” Most are residents of Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens, although some live in Staten Island and other surrounding areas.
The Pentagon has expressed concern over the latest list, however: the group allegedly hacked and circulated online the names, home addresses and photographs of American military personnel, including some top staff members.
“Kill them wherever they are, knock on their doors and behead them, stab them, shoot them in the face or bomb them,” urged the ‘Islamic State Hacking Division.’
The hackers also allegedly have a possible mole in the British Ministry of Defense, according to a report in The Sunday Times. The group threatened to publish “secret intelligence” that could in future identify the Royal Air Force (RAF) drone operators.
The “hit list” was published under the ISIS flag, entitled ‘Target – United States Military,’ circulated via Twitter and posted on the JustPaste website.
But according to a report by PTI, the hackers may not have actually “hacked” their information, but rather were smart at researching the information. They “gleaned the names of Reaper and Predator drone operators from news articles and military newsletters, before matching them to addresses, photos and other personal details from publicly available sources on the internet,” the London-based site contends.
The document states: “You crusaders that can only attack the soldiers of the Islamic State with joysticks and consoles, die in your rage! Your military has no courage, neither has your president as he still refuses to send troops. So instead you press buttons thousands of miles away in your feeble attempt to fight us.
“A nation of cowards that holds no bravery as you resort to sending your remote-controlled unmanned Reaper and Predator drones to attack us from the skies. So this is for you, America. These 75 crusaders are posted as targets for our brothers and sisters in America and worldwide to hunt down and kill.”
“In our next leak we may even disclose secret intelligence the Islamic State has just received from a source the brothers in the UK have spent some time acquiring from the Ministry of Defence in London as we slowly and secretly infiltrate England and the USA online and off.”
The bottom of the document features a graphic of a beheaded Statue of Liberty.
Jerusalem (TPS) – The Israeli Labour Party is considering cutting ties to its British counterpart amid an ongoing wave of British Labour officials dismissed due to anti-Semitic comments, including remarks advocating the deportation of Israel’s Jews and claims that Hitler supported Zionism.
MK Isaac Herzog, head of Israel’s Labour Party and Opposition leader, told Channel 10 News on Monday that he is “considering suspending relations” with British Labour and that “it’s possible there may be no other resort.” Herzog went on to explain that the majority of British Labour rejects these anti-Semitic views, which are held by “only a small and loud minority.”
Herzog’s announcement follows a letter by Labour MK Nachman Shai calling on Herzog to promptly sever ties with British Labour under its current chairman, Jeremy Corbyn.
“There is a toxic atmosphere of hatred and fanaticism in British Labour,” Shai wrote. “It is no longer a sister Party with which we can have close relations and coordinate policy.”
“When one of the Labour leaders creates a twisted connection between Adolf Hitler and Zionism this is no longer a warning sign – this is a moral collapse that requires immediate and unequivocal action,” Amir Peretz, another Israeli Labour MK and former Party chairman, wrote on his Facebook page.
Peretz was referring to comments made by former London Mayor and Labour Member Ken Livingstone last week, arguing that Adolf Hitler supported Zionism because he wanted to deport German Jews. Livingstone was suspended from Labour following the remarks, and the Party has said it will investigate anti-Semitism in its ranks.
Three more British Labour officials were suspended on Monday for anti-Semitic comments they had posted to Facebook, including comments referring to Israel “drinking Gaza blood” and accusing Israel of orchestrating last year’s ISIS terror attacks in Paris as punishment for a French UN vote in support of the Palestinians.
The scandal in British Labour comes at a sensitive time, with important local elections coming up in England on Thursday—including a contentious and racially-charged race for London mayor—which coincides with Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Herzog sent a letter to British Labour head Jeremy Corbyn on Saturday inviting him to bring a delegation to visit Israel’s Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem. “While Ken Livingstone is surely anti-Semitic beyond repair,” Herzog wrote, “I’m sure there remain many Labour Party activists with a willingness to engage and better understand the scourge of anti-Semitism.”
“Yad Vashem is open to all visitors,” said Simmy Allen, Yad Vashem’s director of international communications, in an interview with Tazpit Press Service (TPS). “Our vast resources are at the disposal of anyone who would like to learn about the Holocaust and experience a visit to Yad Vashem.”
It appears unlikely, however, that Corbyn will take Herzog up on the offer, leading Israeli Labour members to openly ponder whether they must dissociate from their British counterpart.
“With sister Parties like this, who needs enemies?” tweeted Itzik Shmuli, a Knesset member with the Labour Party.