Saudi embassy on Delta rumors: American Jews are always welcome!

posted at 6:38 pm on June 24, 2011 by Allahpundit

I’m overstating it a little. Even so, good news for Jewish readers: If you haven’t made any vacation plans this summer, there’s an exciting new option on the table.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia today issued the following statement regarding the false story being circulated on the Internet regarding implications of Saudi Arabian Airlines membership in the Delta Airlines SkyTeam Alliance:

“Rumors being circulated via the Internet regarding passenger flight restrictions on Saudi Arabian Airlines are completely false. The Government of Saudi Arabia does not deny visas to U.S. citizens based on their religion.”

This has been their official policy for years. In fact, when “Jewish People” were listed as a banned class of traveler on their tourism webpage a few years ago, that term was quickly yanked after the media noticed. As noted in yesterday’s post, Jewish tourists do sometimes get visas to the Kingdom, but the advice of the U.S. embassy in Saudi Arabia apparently is to play it safe by listing “non-Muslim” on the visa’s religion line instead. (Some Jews understandably refuse because they don’t want to deny their faith, but they know that by doing so it could invite a hassle.) Here’s an interesting series of communications from a few years ago involving a Jewish woman traveling with a group to the Kingdom whose visa was denied, even though everyone else’s was approved. No one knows why, said her travel agent, but “it is likely religion played a significant role.” It’s easier to get away with discrimination when it’s informal and ad hoc than when it’s codified in some formal policy, so yeah, needless to say, don’t expect the Saudis ever to admit that Jews sometimes are held to a different standard when applying for entry.

As for Delta, here’s their latest statement via the Corner:

Delta Air Lines does not discriminate nor do we condone discrimination against any of our customers in regards to age, race, nationality, religion, or gender.

Delta does not operate service to Saudi Arabia and does not codeshare with any airline that serves that country. Delta does not intend to codeshare or share reciprocal benefits, such as frequent flier benefits, with Saudi Arabian Airlines, which we have confirmed with SkyTeam, an Amsterdam-based 14-member global airline alliance.

Delta’s only agreement with Saudi Arabian Airlines is a standard industry interline agreement, which allows passengers to book tickets on multiple carriers, similar to the standard interline agreements American Airlines, US Airways and Alaska Airlines have with Saudi Arabian Airlines.

All of the three global airline alliances – Star, which includes United Airlines; oneworld, which includes American Airlines, and SkyTeam, which includes Delta – have members that fly to Saudi Arabia and are subject to that country’s rules governing entry.

I regret singling out Delta yesterday, although I noted (twice) that United and presumably many other airlines also serve the Kingdom. This isn’t a “Delta problem,” it’s a western-world problem shared by Delta insofar as we happily do business with the Saudis despite some truly nasty informal — and formal — discriminatory policies. (Try getting a church or synagogue built there.) As also noted yesterday, there was no groundswell of opposition to Delta doing business with the Kingdom based on the latter’s policies towards women, for instance; the outrage erupted only when people were faced with the loathsome, historically-charged prospect of Jews being identified for special burdens. The irony is, the Saudi royals have been unusually proactive among Middle Eastern regimes in pushing reforms to try to head off any Arab-Spring-type revolt among their population. They might be susceptible to western pressure for social liberalization too, especially since they need western allies to fend off the threat from Iran. Leaning on U.S. businesses and the U.S. government to lean on them about discrimination is all to the good, and it might have some small impact. (E.g., I expect they’ll be extra lenient with visa applications from Jewish Americans in the near term while media scrutiny is hot.) Seize the opportunity.

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So, how many Saudi Arabian Airlines flights do not end horribly and actually land on a runway?

Roy Rogers on June 24, 2011 at 6:41 PM

I regret singling out Delta yesterday,

Have no regrets, AP. Delta is the worst airline ever.

Knucklehead on June 24, 2011 at 6:43 PM

OT: Austin Biz Journal reporting that Perry is running

ConservativePartyNow on June 24, 2011 at 6:44 PM

“Jews would be welcome aboard airplanes if they are leaving the Middle East and going back home…to Poland, Germany and America.” – Helen Thomsas

Electrongod on June 24, 2011 at 6:48 PM

“s” in Helen’s last name came on letter too early.

Electrongod on June 24, 2011 at 6:49 PM

OT: Austin Biz Journal reporting that Perry is running

ConservativePartyNow on June 24, 2011 at 6:44 PM

Is that the gay guy…?

/

Seven Percent Solution on June 24, 2011 at 6:50 PM

Delta coughs up a clotted mass and blames it all on a misunderstanding.

Right now the only airline that gets my money is Ford. They don’t charge baggage fees, meal fees, or drink fees. Your shoes are welcome to be on your feet when you enter and the pilot is one smart SOB.

Limerick on June 24, 2011 at 6:54 PM

I regret singling out Delta yesterday,

Have no regrets, AP. Delta is the worst airline ever.

Knucklehead on June 24, 2011 at 6:43 PM

Ever? Perhaps you are too young to have experienced Eastern Airlines.

slickwillie2001 on June 24, 2011 at 6:57 PM

Of course the Saudis want more Jews to visit. It’ll be that much easier for the trees and rocks to say: “O Muslim! There is a Jew behind me! Please come and kill him!”

scatbug on June 24, 2011 at 6:57 PM

This is not a Delta problem. They do not fly there, nor code share with Saudi Arabian Airlines.

Saudi Arabia has no tourism, and if you need to go there it is either because you are going there to work, for business or a conference sponsored by the Saudi government. I, a Christian, have about as good a chance as a Jew of getting a visa without a letter of invitation and lots of other documentation to support it.

This should be a dead issue. Saudi Arabia sucks, it’s an awful place, treats its people horribly under its strict 7th century Sharia Law.

Get over it, we are not going to change them, and if we can just have the will to drill for our own abundant oil, we can finally say F-you to “our friends” the Saudis and move on.

simkeith on June 24, 2011 at 7:02 PM

Ever? Perhaps you are too young to have experienced Eastern Airlines.

slickwillie2001 on June 24, 2011 at 6:57 PM

Not too young, I’m just talking present day carriers. And I love how Sothwest finally smacked Delta upside the head over them trying to keep Southwest out of Atlanta.

It was a brilliant business move.

Knucklehead on June 24, 2011 at 7:07 PM

I regret singling out Delta yesterday,

Have no regrets, AP. Delta is the worst airline ever.

Knucklehead on June 24, 2011 at 6:43 PM

Here ya go.
WARNING, Don’t watch this one at work
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3M86X73HkBo

mizflame98 on June 24, 2011 at 7:07 PM

Limerick on June 24, 2011 at 6:54 PM

Preach it, brother! Firearms also allowed in the cockpit.

a capella on June 24, 2011 at 7:09 PM

F them. And by them, I mean the Saudis. The Western World is just pathetic when it comes to standing up for our G-d given rights.

Lance Murdock on June 24, 2011 at 7:12 PM

You know…

… If we were drilling the trillions of barrels of natural gas and oil under our feet and then selling the excess to the world at discounted prices,

Saudi Arabia might not have to nickles to rub together in a very short period of time.

Seven Percent Solution on June 24, 2011 at 7:15 PM

O/T Father-Jonathan Morris
Tonight I’ll be on Fox Business Channel with David Asman in the 8:00pm EST hour. The National Labor Relations Board is trying to rid Catholic colleges of their exemption from federal labor laws (provided to all religious organizations based on the First Amendment of “free exercise”).

Dr Evil on June 24, 2011 at 7:17 PM

Seize the opportunity.

That’s precisely what this was all about. Good analysis, AP!

Connie on June 24, 2011 at 7:52 PM

Back in the day, Pan Am had a direct, non-stop flight from New York to Dhahran.

So did Lufthansa; they still do.
So did SwissAir; they still do.
So did British Airways; they still do.
So did KLM; they still do.
So did Air France; they still do.
So did SAS; they still do.
So did Iberian Air; they still do.
So did Al Italia; they still do.
So did (and on and on and on).

You know who didn’t? Aeroflot. Because Saudi cannot tolerate atheists. They preferred people to have some faith. (I do not know if that is still true.)

Of course there were no El Al flights. Even so, Israel would issue Israeli visas on a separate piece of paper, instead of stamping them in your passport, just so that people would not run into trouble over it in their other travels. Has anyone asked Israel how they feel about this? It’s not a new issue, after all…

ss396 on June 24, 2011 at 8:16 PM

They might be susceptible to western pressure for social liberalization too, especially since they need western allies to fend off the threat from Iran. Leaning on U.S. businesses and the U.S. government to lean on them about discrimination is all to the good, and it might have some small impact.

Ah Grasshopper, they have this little thing called Islam and the Saudis are the keepers of the Sunni branch of Islam. The Saudis funded the likes of Bin Laden, the hate maddrassas of Pakistan, the hate mosques world wide, hey, they are the ones who brought your towers down. I doubt they would be amenable to any of your thoughtful suggestions. You bow to them, not the other way around.

BL@KBIRD on June 24, 2011 at 8:43 PM

As also noted yesterday, there was no groundswell of opposition to Delta doing business with the Kingdom based on the latter’s policies towards women

Did the Saudis threaten to drive their women into the sea? Are women threatened with death unless they recant being a woman?

The US was one of the first major countries with women’s suffrage, and that didn’t happen here until 1920.

pedestrian on June 24, 2011 at 8:59 PM

The story was believed because it was believable. If South Africa can be boycotted because of apartheid why can’t Saudi be ostracized on general principles? Funding global jihad, keeping women drivers off the road, chopping hands off thieves…well, funding global jihad anyway. It can’t
just be the erl. That’s so easily resolved. It’s almost like the green movement is in the…service of…the…Saudis…. Whuh oh. I think I just cranked my paranoia up to 11.

curved space on June 25, 2011 at 12:08 AM

Huckabee discussed this on Fox and Friends this morning. He explained that all airlines flying to SA follow this agreement, not just Delta. His suggestion: All carriers should tell the House of Saud to stick it unless the descriminatory travel rules are rescinded.

Fat chance, but at least someone went public. Drill baby, drill.

Philly on June 25, 2011 at 9:41 AM

I doubt they have changed since I applied for a Saudi visa in the 80′s. I’m not Jewish, but I have a commonly Jewish last name. After applying for my visa, I had to then provide a copy of my baptism certificate. After that, I was asked for a letter from a Priest on church letterhead certifying that I attend weekly church services!

All this to prove that I was not Jewish.

They’re full of it.

DamnYankee on June 25, 2011 at 10:48 AM