BDS Activist in Racist Air India Tirade Sentenced to 6 Months in Jail
A lawyer and vocal BDS activist was jailed for six months by a British court on Thursday, after she was convicted for drunkenness and assault on a crew member in the business class cabin of an Air India flight from Mumbai to London last year.
Judge Nicholas Wood told defendant Simone O’Broin: “The experience of a drunk and irrational person in the confines of an aircraft is frightening, not least on a long-haul flight and poses a potential risk to safety.”
Although the aircraft was not put at risk by O’Broin’s aggressive and disruptive behavior, the judge added that “for the luckless and unfortunate passengers and crew, there is no escape at 30,000ft.”
The nightmare on the 9-hour flight in November 2018 began when cabin staff refused to serve O’Broin more alcohol, as she was already heavily inebriated from consuming three 25cl bottles of red wine during the first hour of the journey.
Eyewitnesses recalled that O’Broin had stumbled to her feet and launched into an expletive-laden rant, at one point spitting in the face of a female crew member.
“Spitting straight into a crew member’s face at close range is a particularly insulting and upsetting act,” Judge Wood chided O’Broin. The court was told that the assaulted attendant later testified, “In the 34 years I have worked for Air India, this is the first time I have been treated like this by a woman. I felt abused.”
O’Broin’s disruptive behavior continued throughout the flight. On three separate occasions, she broke passenger rules by smoking a cigarette in the toilet. After receiving several verbal warnings, she was arrested on arrival at London’s Heathrow Airport.
Throughout her on-board tirade, O’Broin emphasized her credentials as a “f**** leader of the [anti-Israel] boycott movement” and “f**** international criminal lawyer and barrister.”
“If I say ‘boycott f***Air India,’ done,” she boasted.
Her alcohol-fueled anger quickly took a racist turn, as she accused the Indian staff of showing a lack of gratitude for her work in defense of Palestinian rights, and human rights more generally on the Asian continent.
“I work for all you f**** people… The f**** Rohingyas, the f**** people of all Asia, for you, I’m an international criminal lawyer,” O’Broin rampaged, in a reference to the largely Muslim minority in Myanmar that has faced genocide.
“Don’t get any money for it by the way. But you won’t give me a f*** glass of wine, is that correct?” she continued.
Turning to her fellow business class passengers, O’Broin screamed, “I’m a human rights lawyer, for the f**** Palestinian people, and the rest of you, and you all sit on your f**** a****.”
O’Broin’s advocacy for the Palestinian cause includes several years spent working for a Palestinian advocacy group, the Badil Resource Center, which is located in the West Bank city of Bethlehem. During her time with the group in the late 2000s, O’Broin authored a research paper titled “Applying International Criminal Law to Israel’s Treatment of the Palestinian People.”
However, despite her concern for legality, O’Broin’s writings reveal her profound support for Palestinian violence against Israel — depicted by her as legitimate resistance to occupation, rather than terrorism.
In one article headlined “The Right to Resist,” O’Broin denounced Israel as “the apartheid regime all over Mandate Palestine [that] is brutal in its violence and humiliation of the Palestinian people.” She also deployed the word “racist” to describe the Jewish state.
In the same article, she invoked the Nazi occupation of France as a precedent justifying Palestinian terrorism against Israelis. “Any right to resistance for the Palestinian people is linked to their inalienable right to self-determination,” O’Broin wrote. “This would be the same principle on which the allied forces supported resistance in the countries occupied in WWII, such as France.”
O’Broin, who was ordered to pay $500 in damages to the attendant she assaulted along with her prison sentence, did not contest the charges against her.
Her lawyer, Mark Kimsey, said that O’Broin was “totally ashamed of her behavior.”
Kimsey continued: “This is not a lady who has a drink problem. This is not a woman who has a drug problem. This is totally out of character.”
O’Broin was diagnosed with facial skin cancer in 2000 and has had multiple biopsies and surgeries for what is “an active problem,” according to Kimsey. He added that O’Broin had received death threats after details of her conduct on board the Air India flight emerged in the media.