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Germany: Kuwait Airways Get ‘License to Discriminate Israelis’

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The national carrier of Kuwait, Kuwait Airways, may continue its discriminatory policy of not transporting Israeli citizens from German airports. A court in Frankfurt just dismissed an appeal handed in by Adar M. who was denied service because he is Israeli. Both the Central Council of Jews in Germany and the Minister of Transport criticized the verdict harshly.

In November of 2017, the plaintiff lost the first discrimination lawsuit against Kuwait Airways. Back then, the court said the airline could not be forced to break Kuwaiti law. According to the country’s entry requirements, an Israeli passenger would not have been allowed to enter even the transit area at Kuwait International Airport. In addition, a Kuwaiti boycott law passed in 1964 forbids contact or signing agreements with Israeli citizens.

On Tuesday, the German court rejected the appeal as well, on the grounds that Adar M. could not demand to be transported if this was impossible, due to the regulations Kuwait. The state avenges violations with jail terms and fines.

Last year, the plaintiff had purchased a ticket from Frankfurt to Bangkok, a flight during which he would have had to board a connecting flight at Kuwait International Airport. When the airline found out M. is an Israeli national, it cancelled the ticket.

The plaintiff’s lawyer, Nathan Gelbert, said he regretted the court’s decision. It was difficult to accept that the airline had the right to offer flights from Frankfurt to Bangkok to anyone, except for Israelis. Since the judiciary had not managed to resolve this problem, it was up to politicians now. Germany needed to tell the Kuwaitis they either had to transport everyone or nobody at all, the lawyer stated. “There should not be discrimination against Jews on German soil.”

The Central Council of Jews in Germany also criticized the court’s verdict, which was “not compatible with the definition of antisemitism the German government adopted.” In the United States and Switzerland courts had decided in favor of the plaintiffs in similar cases.

“As long as Kuwait proceeds against Israeli nationals, we demand a general flight ban for Kuwait Airways in Germany”, the Council’s President Josef Schuster said in Berlin. “Germany should not tolerate state-sponsored antisemitism.”

Germany’s Minister of Transportation, Andreas Scheuer, voiced criticism as well. An airline in Germany should not reject Israeli passengers, he told the ‘Bild’ tabloid. “Discrimination and antisemitism are absolutely unacceptable”, Scheuer said. According to him, Germany does voice its concerns in this regard during international talks about aviation matters.

Other critics said, the Kuwaiti airline had gotten a “license to discriminate Israelis”, which was a scandal, also given the fact that America, a close ally of Israel, had liberated Kuwait from Saddam Hussein in 1990.

In its official ruling against the Israeli plaintiff, the Frankfurt court also said, according to the German understanding the Kuwaiti boycott law against Israel was “contentwise unacceptable”, since it caused a “collective punishment.”

The plaintiff has the right to appeal the Frankfurt court’s verdict at the Federal High Court of Justice in the city of Karlsruhe.

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