Amateur video of a prominent BDS leader and human rights lawyer engaging in a prolonged, racist rant against staff in the business class cabin of an Air India flight went viral on Thursday, as anxious fellow passengers relived their experience on social media.
The incident involving Simone O’Broin — a 50-year-old lawyer from Northern Ireland — took place last Saturday on a flight from Mumbai to London, and was sparked by the refusal of Air India cabin staff to serve her more alcohol. Already heavily inebriated and slurring her words, O’Broin stumbled to her feet and launched into an expletive-laden rant, at one point screaming directly in the face of a cabin steward.
Throughout her 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 is currently undergoing a 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 lengthy remonstrations were captured on cellphone video by fellow passenger Tarun Shukla, a business and aviation journalist with several news outlets in Asia. Shukla expressed his alarm at the “racist, abusive” manner that O’Broin adopted as she confronted the cabin staff. After the plane landed at London’s Heathrow Airport, O’Broin was arrested by three armed police officers.
Irish lady behaves in such an abusive, racist way with @airindiain crew for being refused extra drinks. Very decent AI crew behaviour. Arrested on landing. Wonder if she should have been controlled onboard with handcuffs. @JitiBhargava @Mohan_Rngnathan pic.twitter.com/kSTDmGOEm5
— Tarun Shukla (@shukla_tarun) November 13, 2018
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.”