Delta passenger reportedly asked Jews to ‘raise their hands’ — friends say he’s a Jewish man who was trying to pray

A Delta passenger was arrested after allegedly making anti-Semitic comments onboard. (Photo: Twitter/Jordan Dale)
A Delta passenger was arrested after allegedly making anti-Semitic comments onboard. (Photo: Twitter/Jordan Dale)

Pre-Thanksgiving travel was even more stressful than usual for passengers aboard one flight to Atlanta. Police arrested a Delta airlines passenger on Wednesday after passengers reported that he was causing a disturbance on the plane.

A video posted to Twitter showed the man, identified by police as David Toaff, struggling with three officers in the airport who eventually arrested him. In the video, Toaff was seen yelling “I’m not a bad person” and that there was a “white guy with blue eyes and he was just like Trump — he’s a Nazi!”

It’s possible that Toaff is Jewish. In the video where he is shown with police, he appeared to be wearing a Jewish prayer shawl, as HuffPost notes. Toaff did not immediately return Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment, but a friend wrote on social media that Toaff is “a religious Jew.”

“Preliminary information indicates that while in flight to Atlanta from Washington D.C. a male was yelling, asking Jewish people on board to identify themselves and making remarks about bombings to passengers aboard the aircraft,” the Atlanta police said in a statement provided to Yahoo Lifestyle.

The passenger who posted the video on Twitter said that the man asked Jews to “raise their hands” so he could “identify them,” claiming that he went on “an anti-Semitic tirade.”

Delta confirmed in a statement that local law enforcement met Flight 1822 in Atlanta “due to a customer’s behavior onboard the flight,” but didn’t give any further details.

When the flight arrived in Atlanta, Toaff, 37, “continued the disturbance” and “refused to cooperate with officers’ repeated requests to calm down,” according to the police. He was charged with obstruction and disorderly conduct. “Incredible work by Atlanta police,” a witness who took the video wrote on Twitter.

But while some appeared to think that Toaff’s tirade on the plane was anti-Semitic, friends — and others on Twitter — are pushing back to suggest that his words had been misinterpreted. An online commenter who claimed to know Toaff wrote on Twitter that he was probably looking for a “minyan” of 10 Jews on the flight so he could say prayers. “I know this man. He’s a religious Jew and not anti-Semitic in any way,” this commenter wrote.

Others suggested that mental illness might be the potential cause of the outburst. “I personally know David Toaff very well. I grew up with him and we were close friends in the Main Line outside Philadelphia,” wrote a Twitter user named Jascha Rubin. “He has bipolar depression and clearly is having a manic episode on this video. Dale9 and all the news outlets have jumped to unfair conclusions.”

Another man, one does not appear to know Toaff, also weighed in. “Jordan I actually don’t see an antiemetic rant. I see an Ill young man in the throws of a manic or schizophrenic break,” wrote Louis M. Profeta. “But I’m just a simple ER doc who sees this every day. You didn’t film social injustice you filmed someone’s child’s illness for the world to gawk at. Shame.”

Toaff lives in Washington D.C., according to his Facebook page. He recently posted a painting his father made of the Old City in Jerusalem, and shared an article about the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting during which 11 people were killed last month. He could not be reached for comment.

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