Officials to Protest Arab Airline’s Refusal to Sell Tickets to Israelis


Officials and Jewish activists will protest on Wednesday Kuwait Airways’ refusal to sell tickets to Israeli passport holders in violation of United States anti-discrimination laws.

Councilmen Rory Lancman, David Greenfield, Alan Maisel and Helen Rosenthal, along with others, will call on the Port Authority, which controls John F. Kennedy International Airport, to enforce the anti-discrimination provisions under which the Gulf state’s banner airline operates.

Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, will also attend.

The group will also call, during a midday conference on the steps of City Hall, on the Department of Transportation to enforce federal laws to prevent the airline from continuing to deny tickets to Israeli passport holders.

The federal agency has already determined that Kuwait Airways’ policy violates the law, and a press release by Lancman’s office says that “it clearly violates the airline’s lease with the Port Authority.” They are demanding enforcement action “or termination of Kuwait Airways’ lease and ability to fly out of JFK Airport.”

A similar suit was brought in 2013 by then-Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, currently the city’s mayor, against Saudi Airlines. At the time, Saudi Airlines defended its policy, saying that it did not run afoul of aviation law since the kingdom had no diplomatic relations with the Jewish state.

“In case the plane is delayed,” said Saudi Arabian Airlines general director Khalidal-Melhem said, “the passenger will have to enter the country, and at that point, it would be very difficult to let him into [Saudi Arabia] if there are no diplomatic relations.”

The ban on Israelis has existed since 1948, when the state of Israel was established. While it has waned in recent years as Arab countries have signed peace agreements with Israel, it is still enforced in some nations.

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