Dr. Lisa Rosenberg wants everyone to know that intolerance is alive and well in America — but insists she isn’t the one spewing hatred.
The Queens gynecologist gained 15 minutes of internet infamy this month when she was booted off a JetBlue flight after a dispute with a Palestinian fellow passenger over the war in Gaza.
But Rosenberg says she did nothing wrong and blames the other woman and JetBlue workers of blatant anti-Semitism.
“I would like the public to know that it is unacceptable for Americans to express anti-Israel views in the form of anti-Semitism at this very critical time,” Rosenberg said. “Ironically (I was) asked to leave the plane.”
Rosenberg, a Navy veteran, observant Jew and mother of eight, says she was having a private phone conversation with a friend and made a number of pro-Israel statements as she prepared to board the flight from Palm Beach International Airport to New York on July 7.
As Rosenberg walked onto the aircraft and made her way to her seat in Row 7, a woman who identified herself as a Palestinian accosted her. The called Rosenberg a “Zionist pig,” according to Rosenberg.
Rosenberg rebuffed the woman’s verbal advances, but the woman was persistent enough in her pestering that the pair drew the unwanted attention of several other passengers.
A JetBlue flight attendant and supervisor came over to address the situation. They told Rosenberg that she had to leave the plane, noting that other customers were uncomfortable with the altercation going on between the two women.
But the humiliation didn’t end there, she said. The JetBlue workers mocked her mercilessly as they enforced their authority.
“Do you think we are going to listen to you because you are a Jew?” one asked her, according to Rosenberg. Another said, “Jews don’t make the rules here. You are the only one being removed from the plane,” she claimed.
Rosenberg says she cooperated with the authorities and left the plane, which took off only a few minutes late. She refused to accept a rebooked flight with JetBlue, and flew home on another airline.
Rosenberg’s account conflicts dramatically with those of JetBlue workers, officials and fellow passengers quoted in official reports. The accounts were revealed by Flying with Fish, a blog that covers airline security.
The JetBlue workers claimed Rosenberg instigated the dispute with the Palestinian woman, branding her a “murderer” as fellow passengers watched in dismay. The official reports say fellow passengers claimed the Palestinian woman did nothing to spark the argument, and that Rosenberg was aggressive and disorderly.
When Rosenberg was asked about how JetBlue should have handled the situation, she said that the airline should have heard both sides before making a judgment.
Either she and the Palestinian woman should have been reseated, or both should have been removed from the plane.
“We should have been spoken to separately, privately, outside the plane,” she suggested.
Since her story hit the web, Rosenberg has been shocked by the backlash against her. She has been deluged by threatening phone calls, including one from the Palestinian fellow passenger. Rosenberg said she would release a tape of that call during a formal statement to the press under the supervision of her lawyer.
“There is some real hate sites saying, ‘death to the Jews’,” she said. “(They say) really horrible things like ‘evil Jew doctor.’”