Senators Want DOT to Investigate Airlines’ Discrimination Against Jews, Israelis


510793163U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory A. Booker (D-N.J.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), and Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) today sent a letter to Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Anthony Foxx and Department of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker urging them to launch an investigation into reports that several Middle Eastern airline carriers are discriminating against passengers based on their country of origin.

In the letter, the senators cited recent reports of unjust treatment by Saudi Arabian Airlines and Kuwait Airways to deter travel for Israeli-passport holders.

“Two individuals – one who is a dual citizen of the U.S. and Israel…filed complaints with the Department of Transportation detailing resistance they received from Saudi Arabian Airlines when they tried booking flights with a short layover in Saudi Arabia,” they wrote. “As alleged by these individuals, the airline told the dual U.S.-Israeli citizen he would need special permission from the Saudi Arabian government, which he would have been unlikely to receive. The airline also allegedly told him he should refrain from bringing Tefillin, which are Jewish religious articles, on board the aircraft…”

“These complaints come after an incident earlier this year in which a woman with an Israeli passport was refused entry on a flight on Kuwait Airways at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport to London’s Heathrow Airport. According to reports of this incident, the airline refused to board the passenger because Kuwait Airways – which is owned by the government of Kuwait – refuses to recognize the State of Israel.”

The senators urged the Departments to take swift action if these reports are substantiated, as the DOT and Commerce Department have the legal authority to end discrimination and mistreatment by air carrier or foreign air carrier. Additionally, the Commerce Department has the ability to stifle other countries’ efforts to boycott the state of Israel and has previously done so through its Office of Anti-Boycott Compliance by imposing penalties on companies that propagate efforts to boycott Israel.

“If you find these practices illegal, it is imperative that you proceed with immediate enforcement action and end such discriminatory behavior. It is troubling that two airlines possibly could be allowed to profit from serving U.S. passengers, benefit from infrastructure paid for by U.S. taxpayers, yet simultaneously infringe on the rights afforded all passengers. Any airline that ignores our laws should be punished to the maximum extent and possibly have their DOT-issued permit revoked that allows them to fly to and from U.S. airports.”

{CB Newscenter}