Delta airlines no longer allowing Jewish passengers on flights to Saudi Arabia?

posted at 8:19 pm on June 23, 2011 by Allahpundit

Utter madness if true. Is it?

Delta Airlines, in its new alliance with Saudi Arabian Airlines, might wind up making a bargain shocking Jews and Christians — no Jews, no Bibles on board to the desert kingdom.

Delta doesn’t currently fly to Saudi Arabia, but next year it will have a new code-sharing agreement with the Saudi airlines through the SkyTeam network. That means folks may be booking through Delta but still flying a Saudi airline…

Jewish leader Rabbi Irwin Kula was wary about inflaming concerns on this, saying he knows many Jewish professionals who are very open about their religious identity who fly to Saudi Arabia all the time for business.

World Net Daily has a copy of a letter from a Delta spokesperson insisting that the airline doesn’t discriminate but noting that “Delta must also comply with all applicable laws in every country it serves” and that “If a passenger travels without proper documents, the passenger may be denied entry into that country and our airline may be fined.” In other words, if the Kingdom has a “no Jews allowed” policy then Delta, however reluctantly, has a “no Jews allowed” policy. And in fact, the Kingdom does have a policy like that — or rather, it did. Any old-school blog readers out there remember back in 2004 when the Saudi tourism website listed “Jewish People” as one of the four groups to whom visas wouldn’t be granted? That language was eventually scrubbed from the website after the media noticed and pressure was brought to bear by, er, Rep. Anthony Weiner. But as noted in the USA Today piece quoted above, Jews apparently do enter the Kingdom sometimes. In fact, via Dave Kopel, Joshua Muravchik received a visa in 2007 despite listing his religion as “Jewish.” So there may not be any hard-and-fast “no Jews allowed” rule. More likely, there’s an unofficial, arbitrary “few Jews allowed” policy, with Saudi authorities admitting Jewish visitors only if they think it’s somehow in their interest to do so.

But back to Delta. Here’s what they’ve posted on their website in response to the outcry:

First and foremost, I think one of the most important things to mention here is that Delta does not discriminate nor do we condone discrimination against anyone in regards to age, race, nationality, religion, or gender.

That said, some have raised questions about whether Saudi Arabian Airlines’ membership in SkyTeam means Delta is adopting any type of policies that could present barriers to travel for some passengers, including Jewish customers. For this particular concern, it’s important to realize that visa requirements to enter any country are dictated by that nation’s government, not the airlines, and they apply to anyone entering the country regardless of whether it’s by plane, bus or train.

We, like all international airlines, are required to comply with all applicable laws governing entry into every country we serve. You as passengers are responsible for obtaining the necessary travel documents, such as visas and certification of required vaccinations, and we’re responsible for making sure that you have the proper documentation before you board.

Same response as in the letter obtained by WND. They don’t condone discrimination against any religion — unless the price is right, I guess. Two points, then. First, needless to say, this will end in utter disaster for Delta. I doubt we’ll even need to get to the boycott stage before they reverse course. The PR damage will be such that they’ll either pull the plug on their partnership with the Kingdom or the Kingdom itself will issue reassurances that Jewish tourists from America are always welcome (even though they really aren’t). The royals have enough to worry about these days in Bahrain and Yemen, and their relationship with the Obama White House is already strained. The last thing they need is a surge of anti-Saudi anger in the U.S. suddenly complicating their “alliance” with America. Second, it’s amazing to think how much the Saudis get away with when they’re not indulging their worst Nazi-ish tendencies. We all know how women there are treated; as we speak, the Kingdom’s locked in a fierce public debate over whether it should be legal for them merely to drive. And yet it’s hard to imagine boycott calls getting any traction over something like institutional misogyny. Only when they throw something at us that’s so sickening in its echoes of Third Reich policy that it can’t be ignored do they pay a real price. Given that standard, I’m not surprised that they thought they could get away with this too.

Exit question one: What do other airlines do about their own flights to the Kingdom? United flies there, for instance. Is there some special “no Jews allowed” policy for their flights? Exit question two: Is there any other form of discrimination that Delta would tolerate in a business partner? People on Twitter are wondering whether they’d continue flights to South Africa if somehow apartheid were brought back. There must be some level of disgust at which the company’s directors would say the profits aren’t worth it. Why doesn’t the Saudis’ policy rise to that level?

Update: A Twitter friend notes that neither Delta nor any arm of the Saudi government has firmly said that Jewish passengers will have a problem obtaining visas or boarding a flight. Right, but as noted above, the Saudis once went so far as to single out Jews for nonadmittance to the Kingdom on their own tourism website. And it’s surpassingly strange that Delta has repeatedly refused to debunk this story despite multiple opportunities. If this is a big bunch of nothing, they could have issued a simple statement: “There’s nothing to these reports. Jewish tourists should have no trouble getting Saudi visas, and if they do have trouble, we’ll end our partnership with Saudi Arabia immediately.” They haven’t said that. Why?

I do think it’s unfair, though, to single out Delta if other U.S./western airlines have this same policy in effect. As I said above, United flies to the Kingdom too. Presumably they’re subject to the same boarding restrictions that Delta is vis-a-vis passengers who lack visas for whatever reason. All of which is to say, the problem here isn’t whether Delta or United will fly a passenger to Riyadh who can’t get a visa because he’s Jewish. The problem is that there are some passengers who can’t get a visa because they’re Jewish, and Delta and presumably United are nonetheless happy to continue to do business with the Kingdom.

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DIf, however, they accept a passenger who doesn’t have a valid visa, Delta is on the hook for the return fare of said visa-less passenger.

DaveK on June 23, 2011 at 10:30 PM

Delta can simply handle that by not providing flights to Saudi for there commercial flights.

F15Mech on June 23, 2011 at 11:03 PM

What happens if the pilots Jewish? Cant land?

Greed on June 23, 2011 at 11:08 PM

The royals have enough to worry about these days in Bahrain and Yemen, and their relationship with the Obama White House is already strained. The last thing they need is a surge of anti-Saudi anger in the U.S. suddenly complicating their “alliance” with America.

Are you kidding? O’Bonehead is more likely to name Delta the official airline of his anti-Israeli administration.

Jaibones on June 23, 2011 at 11:12 PM

As far as I know there is no rule against Jews with visas…
lexhamfox on June 23, 2011 at 8:45 PM

I am always glad that you are pretty much constantly available to provide the devil’s advocate position for any issue regarding Israelis, or Jews etc etc..
Have you ever once taken a position that is contrary to the enemies of the Jewsih State? I am just wondering.

You seem to know a lot, such as there is no rule against Jews getting visas, can you tell me perhaps what the percentage is of Jews applying for Visas to Saudi Arabia that are accepted? What’s the rule? 1 filthy Jew today, or 2?

Saudi Arabia is a racist country filled with Jew + Christian haters, I am barred from traveling to Saudi Arabia because I am a Jew who lives in the Jewish State.

Delta seems fine with that, I am not and will express myself through my jooo money.

saus on June 23, 2011 at 9:31 PM

A few years back I worked for a software firm with very strong Israeli and Jewish connections that tendered for business in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan with the governments there. We managed to win both bids so these issues came up in both instances as we needed to get our people on site for some key stages of the contracts.

If what I’m saying is incorrect then please do correct me. I’ve been wrong before.

lexhamfox on June 23, 2011 at 11:32 PM

I am always glad that you are pretty much constantly available to provide the devil’s advocate position for any issue regarding Israelis, or Jews etc etc..
Have you ever once taken a position that is contrary to the enemies of the Jewsih State? I am just wondering.

saus on June 23, 2011 at 9:31 PM

Oh yeah… I’ve been called an anti-semite, leftist, and all that stuff here but in other places I have been called a ‘zionist imperialist’, Jew loving American, crypto-fascist racist, enemy of Islam, and all that stuff elsewhere because of publications I have worked on or debate panels I have appeared on. I keep the best of them in my hope chest : ) If you do work on Middle Eastern affairs and manage to collect all of them it usually means you are getting it just right.

lexhamfox on June 23, 2011 at 11:45 PM

Have you mindless drones even thought for a second about this? US airlines fly to Saudi Every day. Did you forget that when you bought this article???

Do you think the other airlines are looking for Jews to harass, people to kick off their flights? Do you think they say “I’m sorry , Mr. Finklestein. You’re a Jooo so we can’t let you on the plane”? You think they are inspecting luggage for hidden bibles?

Do you think maybe the ACLU would sue such airlines, and make those suits very public???

Or do you think the Saudis imposed a special requirement on Delta, one they (and Delta) would know violated US law?

Geddoudaheah!!!

fulldroolcup on June 24, 2011 at 12:06 AM

so much for the notion that Hot Air’s posters are a cut above the rest in brains. Why do you believe this stuff?

Over on Ace someone’s pointed out that Delta already flies to Israel. In fact Delta-Northwest is one of the biggest global airlines.

Betcha didn’t know that, did you?

Try thinking things though, will you?

fulldroolcup on June 24, 2011 at 12:10 AM

And it’s surpassingly strange that Delta has repeatedly refused to debunk this story despite multiple opportunities. If this is a big bunch of nothing, they could have issued a simple statement: “There’s nothing to these reports. Jewish tourists should have no trouble getting Saudi visas, and if they do have trouble, we’ll end our partnership with Saudi Arabia immediately.” They haven’t said that. Why?

Because that would be a ridiculous statement for an airline to make. They should guarantee visa availability? Huh?

Pablo on June 24, 2011 at 12:16 AM

lexhamfox on June 23, 2011 at 11:45 PM

Oh, now you are a Middle East expert? What are these publications, do share please. Many of us need your expertise. All I have personally ever seen is a penchant for anti-Israel views, but I am not an expert on the Middle East, I just live here.

saus on June 24, 2011 at 12:20 AM

Oh, now you are a Middle East expert? What are these publications, do share please. Many of us need your expertise. All I have personally ever seen is a penchant for anti-Israel views, but I am not an expert on the Middle East, I just live here.

saus on June 24, 2011 at 12:20 AM

I helped research a book on the Iran-Iraq War and two books on the Iranian Revolution along with a number of papers and articles. Part of my graduate work was done in Israel. I had a great time there and I am very fond of the place and the people. I regret you view my comments as anti-Israel. I would point out that my posting the fact that Jews can get visas is hardly an endorsement of the Saudi regime or Whahabism. My antipathy for both run far deeper than any issues I might have with Israeli radicals or the Likkud Party. In their eyes, I am worse than a Jew. Have a great day.

lexhamfox on June 24, 2011 at 1:00 AM

Saudi Arabia is not a friend of the US. No US presence there, please. None. I am sick and tired of these damned stinking primitive tribal Islamic countries we have truck with. No more truck, please. I wish I were president. Things really would change then. And I wouldn`t do as horrible a job as OmanObama, either. That is nigh on impossible. Obama can go live in Saudi Arabia or Indonesia or Kenya or Hawaii or Ireland or wherever he is from. He ain`t from this country!

St. Anger, all right!

Sherman1864 on June 24, 2011 at 1:00 AM

Well its not so much an airline policy, its a policy they have to follow to fly into Saudi Arabia, they have to check for the proper Saudi entry visa. You can not just buy a ticket and board a flight to the Magic Kingdom.

The airline has no control over who the Saudis give passports to, and just because you buy the ticket on Delta or United, does not mean you are flying there on Delta or United either, since you have the codeshare alliances. You could buy a Delta ticket, and fly in on Air France

Some airlines check for passports too, before you can board, so this is no different.

firepilot on June 24, 2011 at 1:53 AM

Specifically no Jews.. and generally no Christians either. Looks like its Sharia Law in Delta.

The restrictions could include clothing requirements for women and banning passengers from “carrying and reading religious literature of their choice.”

“This includes, but is not limited to, both Christian and Jewish sacred texts, such as the Old Testament and the New Testament, as well as any objects that reflect their religion, such as a cross necklace,” Lovitky said.

JellyToast on June 23, 2011 at 8:38 PM

I’m assuming that the only acceptable religious book to carry on the plane would be the Koran, right?

And I’m sure Ron Paul fans are happy about this. They’ll be flying Delta much more often now.

Conservative Samizdat on June 24, 2011 at 2:09 AM

Lehamfox I would point out that you comment in almost every thread related to Israel and the comments are not those of a great friend imho. Jews associated with Israel or living here cannot obtain these visas, be they Voters of Likud, the majority here or any other party.

If you admire my country greatly, one day surprise us all here and show it in comment on some thread in the futire

saus on June 24, 2011 at 2:34 AM

saus on June 24, 2011 at 2:34 AM

I suggest you read my comments related to Israel more carefully then. You know very well that Saudi Arabia does not have diplomatic relations with Israel and that is the reason rather than the fact that you are Jewish. The hermit state is what it is but Israel has yet to respond officially to the Saudi initiative. Meir Dagan and I agree on that but maybe you also think he is not a friend of Israel.

lexhamfox on June 24, 2011 at 2:53 AM

United does not fly to Saudi Arabia and it has no Star Alliance partner airlines headquartered in Saudi. Turkish and EgyptAir are the only Muslim nation-headquartered airlines in the Star Alliance and those are both very ‘western-friendly’ as far as the Middle East goes.

I live in the Middle East and most other non-Saudi Arabs don’t like the Saudis one bit.

JetBlast on June 24, 2011 at 4:20 AM

You think the TSA checks were bad, wait until you go through the Delta check-in:
;)
- Strip searched for any Christian or Jewish jewelry…
- You gotta’ cross tatoo? You ain’t flying Delta.
- What do you mean you are bringing on board a “Christmas” present?
- Thinking of saying a Christian prayer before you take off? Then don’t get on…
- Hope on your Kindle you don’t have a copy of the Bible…
- You listening to gospel music on that iPod???
Off you go!

albill on June 24, 2011 at 9:08 AM

When are Jews, or for that matter anyone from the West, going to stop doing business with countries whose covert and overt philosophy is harm to both? Of course I know the answer to that, when liberalism and the left disappears. The West controls enough resources to not only take care of ourselves but to drag these countries and cultures out of the Dark Ages and into the Enlightenment. Of course, also, I don’t expect it to ever happen and take for granted that whether it is in 5, 10 or 50 years the West will be dragged back down into the Dark Ages.

peacenprosperity on June 24, 2011 at 9:30 AM

lexhamfox on June 24, 2011 at 2:53 AM

No Sir, I am afraid I don’t know any of that, and without even realizing it you are once again being an apologist for haters of Israel and haters of Jews. You can’t even see it. Diplomatic relations my a**.

It is plain old Saudi Jew hatred, period.

saus on June 24, 2011 at 10:26 AM

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