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German airline Lufthansa to appoint anti-Semitism manager after an incident with Jewish passengers at Frankfurt airport

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The airline will adopt the IHRA working definition of anti-Semitism after an incident in May with a group of Jewish passengers travelling from NYC to Budapest via Frankfurt.

Lufthansa Airlines will hire an anti-Semitism manager and adopt the International Human Rights Commission’s (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism after an incident that garnered international attention, in which more than 100 identifiably Jewish individuals were barred from a flight on May 4, The Jewish Chronicle reported.

The passengers, many of whom were traveling individually, had been en route from New York to Budapest, Hungary, with a stopover in Frankfurt, Germany. Upon landing in Frankfurt, the Jewish individuals were denied permission to continue onboard the plane as some, according to the airline, had not followed proper mask-wearing protocols.

When a Jewish passenger confronted a Lufthansa employee to ask why he was barred from continuing the flight given that he was wearing a mask the entire time, he was told: “Jewish people were the mess, they made the problems.”

Germany’s national carrier said on May 10 that it “regrets the circumstances surrounding the decision to exclude the affected passengers from the flight, for which Lufthansa sincerely apologizes.

“We have zero tolerance for racism, anti-Semitism and discrimination,” it added.However, an independent investigation commissioned by the airline said there was no evidence of institutional antisemitism behind the incident, which the company’s CEO deemed “categorically inappropriate.”

Several Jewish groups demanded more action at the time with the Anti-Defamation League tweeting on May 10: “This non-apology fails to admit fault or identify the banned passengers as Jews. It also refers to them as a group, even though many were strangers. They had one commonality—being visibly Jewish. In addition to investigating, ensuring accountability and taking steps to repair the harm, including compensating the victims to the extent possible, Lufthansa, as a German company, has a special responsibility to educate its staff.”

Many of the Jews on the prospective flight were traveling to the town of Bodrogkeresztúr, formerly Kerestir, in Hungary for the observance of the yahrzeit (anniversary of death) of Rabbi Yeshaya Steiner, known as the Kerestir rebbe.

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