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U.S. Department of Transport: Kuwait Airways Discriminates Against Israeli Citizens

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The United States Department of Transportation sent a letter to Kuwait Airways, notifying about an unlawful discrimination against a Israeli passenger traveling from John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to London Heathrow Airport (LHR). (airwaysnews.com) 기타...

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DAL498
DAL498 2
hmmm i wonder why!
yr2012
So many other carriers - why Kuwaiti
canuck44
canuck44 4
For all the same reasons a Christian baker gets sued for not making wedding cakes for those with whom he disagrees even when other bakers are available...or two guys that want to get married drive from Ohio to Tennessee to appear in front of the one clerk that has refused same sex marriages...it is all about agendas.
jonathanparker
J Parker 3
Not the same at all.This is an individual being forced to betray his or her beliefs. This is a firegn corporation receiving loan subsudies with US tax dollars breaking US law. BTW in a prior decision the DOT rep explained that discrimation was OK because the airline participated in the Israeli boycott. I kid you not. The orders for the DOT decisions come from the State Department which overrides any decisions.
GeoAnas
Geo Anas 1
As long as they declare it on time of purchase, I'm fine with any discrimination. It's a private company, they can choose who to board or not. And I don't doubt that Israeli would do the same. Maybe they let you board if you are a Muslim, but you would have to convince them that you are a good one, and that is discrimination.

But what I wanted to say was that saying that an individual is being forced to betray their beliefs, just because they are not let in a plane, i believe it's an exaggeration of the worst kind. These people that are not let in the plane are not martyrs... for goodness sake... But actually the clerk refusing same sex marriage is breaking the law and he or she is a public servant, getting paid by the state.

And another question... does Kuwait airlines have a flight between JFK and London? Where is their hub...?
Jack370
Jack370 1
I agree with John Donaldson. I personally am nervous flying in general and the last thing I would do is book a ticket on a flight full of people that hate your religion and don't recognize your country as legitimate.
yakc130
The same could be said for Saudia.
xflatbush
k skaas 1
What sane Isareli or n on-Israeli Jewish person would want to fly on an arab airline anyway? Kuwait is NOt as one commenter said, our best ally in the Middle East. Israel is our one and only ally in that partof the world. Period. If it were not for Kuwait's oil, does anyone think that the U.S. would have protected them from Saddam? It was and is all about oiil.
lmgellman
Why are they aloud to fly in the US if you can't abide by our laws? They should not be landing here. Does any United States Law apply to any wealthy Corp? This is sickening.
yossi1
yossi1 1
I just thought of a great solution to this predicament.

The U.S. government says that any company (domestic or foreign) doing business on U.S. soil must follow U.S. laws. This should be pretty obvious to us.

Kuwait Airways says that they are a Kuwaiti company and want to follow (even enforce!) Kuwaiti law even when operating on U.S. soil and even when Kuwaiti law conflicts with U.S. law. In other words, in Kuwait Airways' opinion, Kuwaiti law trumps U.S. law on U.S. soil simply because Kuwait Airways is, first and foremost, a Kuwaiti company. They still want the freedom to operate on U.S. soil, though.

So the crux of the matter is that Kuwait Airways is a Kuwaiti company. I think the solution is what many other global companies implement.

Kuwait Airways should create a wholly-owned non-Kuwaiti subsidiary to operate (or at least sell tickets for) all their current flights between two cities which do not go through Kuwait. Think Virgin America, or Coca Cola Bottling Brazil, or many other examples. This way, Kuwait Airways would not be violating Kuwaiti laws yet could benefit financially from their efforts of operating flights between New York and London without violating U.S. laws.
Jack370
Jack370 1
Or maybe they could just have an "other" option under country question. :)
Jack370
Jack370 1
Are we getting the whole story here? While the website doesn't list Israel as a country, there is nothing in this story that actually says that Kuwaiti Airlines bans Israeli's from flying with them.

If it's true that Kuwaiti Airlines bans Israeli citizens from flying with them then the best solution would be for Eldad Gatt or some other interested party to file a civil lawsuit in a US court (since it was a flight from JFK).

The US would be foolish to create a diplomatic crisis over this issue. The world is full of racism and prejudice and it's not up to America to "fix the world" at the cost of relations with a sovereign country that is both economically and strategically valuable. Kuwait is our best friend in the middle east. It's not worth one guys complaint to risk damaging that.
Jack370
Jack370 1
One other point about this issue. The international airports outer boundaries are considered a grey zone when it comes to international law. Passengers are not considered "inside the USA" until they pass through defined inner airport boundaries. Those laws could complicate this issue of suing Kuwaiti Airlines since they operate in the grey area of the airports and may not be subject to all US laws.
Jack370
Jack370 1
By "best friend" I meant "best Muslim Arab" friend.
joelwiley
This appears to be a reversal of an earlier decision:
www.thelawfareproject.org/KuwaitAirways.pdf

Neither the Kuwaiti Airlines reservation system nor Kuwaiti law allows booking with an Israeli passport.

Seems to me Mr. Gatt was venue shopping to drag this issue into the news. But that's just me.
yossi1
yossi1 1
Kuwait Airways happened to have the lowest fare that day for the JFK->LHR route. Joel, would you feel the same way (namely, that there was no discrimination and it was just issue-shopping) if your sister tried to get on this flight and the gender drop-down list did not include "Female"?
RomeoOscarB
exactly....I just made a comment on this topic in another forum....does kuwait still marginalize women these days....not to mention allow them to obtain a license to drive, vote or even allow them to have a truly meaningful say w/re to anything of relevant importance?....if the answer is no to ANY of the above (I'm gonna take a stab & say the answer is actually yes to all), well lets just say this should speak volumes to anyone who'd consider supporting this region in any way. it's bad enough they receive plenty of the globes wealth via its' desperate thirst for all things oil. Still stuck in the stone age they remain....& will be for quite awhile longer, sadly.
yr2012
Old Arab saying: My father rode a camel, I drive a car, my son flys a jet plane, and his son will ride a camel.
GeoAnas
Geo Anas 0
Why you move the subject away from its real place?
What if the airline would not serve us because of the tag "stupid"???

If Kuwait marginalizes women or not, it's another issue. The report does not say that Kuwait stopped a woman from boarding because her face was visible... And besides (not that I accept it per se) but if this happens, it has religious backgrounds that us, as passengers, have to accept/respect when purchasing a service.

So, if you have a clue about the conflict between Israellis and Arabs, then that condition for travelling is totally acceptable. For BOTH sides. Israel has the right not to let anyone board if they are Muslims, and Muslims have the right not to let Israelis board. Each of them accuse the others of killing people of their own (and actually with Israel killing more).

The real news here is that US is again... let's say... supporting Israel due to political reasons.

Last month I applied for a tourist visa asking for religion. If it was declined because of that, would I sue them? Probably not, but I would have to accept that I would not have to travel to that country...
yossi1
yossi1 3
Great, let us bring the discussion back to the subject. A person was denied the ability to purchase a cheap ticket on a non-stop flight from New York to London on a commercial, essentially public transportation flight, solely on the basis of their national origin. This is illegal in the United States, and the courts concur. Nothing else is relevant.

Many times in the past people tried to justify their particular flavor of discrimination and it never makes any difference as far as the laws are concerned. This flight originated in this country and ended in the United a kingdom with no stops in-between so the relevant laws are those of the U.S. and those of the UK.
RomeoOscarB
my point in mentioning what I had was that it points to a level of discrimination.....& a fairly significant one at that imo. Not sure why the comment in turn w/re to Israel? Sure don't recall Israel being accused of practicing such discriminatory actions. However being that Israel was mentioned, I'm sure it is a widely known fact that El Al allows for all passports to make reservations....not to mention this democratic State allowing women to drive & vote...much unlike many of their neighbors.

Sorry if anyone has taken offense to any of the truths being said here...was simply pointing out that kuwait's govt run natl airline should be completely ashamed of themselves for choosing to discriminate as such. There's no place in world for acts as such & I feel it should made very well known that in this day & age we see that a country has no shame in discriminating. I'm wondering if among their reasons is that they fear retribution from fellow arab's who happen to preach & practice jihad. Perhaps kuwait fears repercussions from those who teach their children to hate & of course (since you mentioned it) approve of killing. Seems to me that perhaps kuwait has already forgotten the fact the western world (w/the support of Israel as well I might add) stepped in a few yrs back & saved their rears from a brutal dictator who is thankfully no longer w/us. & to try & defend this policy behind the excuse of "religious reasons or beliefs" is nothing but a poor & lazy cop out imo....especially for a carrier who chooses to fly internationally. Heck, even if they were strictly a domestic carrier it'd be darn near just as bad. But I digress....apologies again should anyone feel offended. However as far as I can see it, the only one's who should truly feel offended are those who're holding an Israeli passport...along w/all those who feel it is not OK for a country to practice any form of systematic discrimination...which of course this is, plain & simple any which way someone elects to defend such a shameful policy. OK....I'm done w/this one here....said my peace & wont be wasting any more of my time w/replies to those who think discrimination has a place anywhere in today's world...scary stuff.
GeoAnas
Geo Anas 1
OK, I looked into it, just to be fair, and I agree with you on the fact that since it's US law to prohibit not serving someone on the basis of religion, then I agree with not being allowed to do so.
My comment was more on the fact that the news and the title pinpoint the fact that the person was Jewish, while it should be that Kuwait airlines discriminate based on religion, and then maybe describe the details. Putting it in the title, it emphasizes that the person was a jewish, adding religious and political importance to the matter, which we all know is shed with blood and discrimination (ilet's say from both sides, although it's clear which state represses other).
yossi1
yossi1 2
What makes this story newsworthy to me is *not* that Kuwait Airways discriminates or breaks the laws of this country. That's par for the course. I think this story is interesting for how hard the FAA and the Department of Transportation *defended* Kuwait Airways! The legal battle over this case took more than two years until the government admitted that yes, illegal discrimination indeed took place and continues to take place.

It remains to be seen what kind of action the DoT will take against Kuwait Airways in this matter. I fear it'll only be a slap on the wrist and Kuwait Airways, being a rich airline from a rich country, will most likely choose to pay the fine and continue its practice of illegal discrimination. It would be really nice if something actually happens as a result, like a change on the Kuwait Airways reservation website allowing all nationalities to be selected for flights that do not go through Kuwait.
joelwiley
I can see one scenario play out, at least initially. No violation as long as noone applies for a ticket. Relatively rare occasion leads to occasional fine. Kuwait pays as the cost of doing business. Similar to the way some companies handle other civil penalties.

It works until someone pushes hard again.
Fredbrillo
Its been this way for many years... I left the industry 17 years ago but back then it was both ways...you couldn't board an El Al flight if you had a stamp from an Arab country in your passport as well.
jonathanparker
J Parker 1
Simply not true regarding El Al. I would be fascinated if you could provide evidence to the contrary. Google any of the Arab airlines and you will see the discrimation is only in one direction. Attempting to equivocate reveals more about personal basis than realty.
joelwiley
El Al does passenger profiling, like their lives depend on it. For good reason.
yossi1
yossi1 2
Having flown on El Al many times, I can say first-hand that once a passenger goes through the admittedly rigorous security screening they are allowed to board the flight, regardless of whether they are Muslim, Christian, Jewish, or what their nationality is.
joelwiley
Exactly. The screening process is to ensure passenger safety. A far cry from our own vaunted TSA.
jonathanparker
J Parker 1
Precisely
jonathanparker
J Parker 1
Yes, of course, but the issue here us violating US law to which the DOT has turned a blind eye regarding ME3

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