Those shady Saudis are up to no good! A new partnership between Delta Airlines and Saudi Arabian Airlines has American Jews up in arms over what many are considering an anti-Semitism.
Delta announced plans in January to include Saudi Arabian Airlines as a part of their SkyTeam network starting in 2012, which will allow for greater commercial travel to the Middle East. The only problem is — the Saudi airline has a policy that will keep Jews off their Delta flights from the U.S. to Saudi Arabia.
If you didn’t already know how Saudi Arabia gets down — the nation is governed by strict Islamic law which requires nearly every country’s citizens to obtain a visa. Religious items not related to Islam — including the Bible can and have been confiscated at the airport. All people who enter must have a sponsor, women have to dress modestly and be met at the airport by a man who will act as their chaperone. Saudi Arabia also bans anyone with an Israeli stamp in their passport from entering the country — even in transit. Now THAT’s beef!
To make matters even more complicated, many Jews believe that individuals have been denied visas to enter Saudi Arabia just for having “Jewish sounding” names!
But if Delta thought folks were just gonna accept this new policy quietly they thought wrong…
Colby M. May, senior counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, a conservative legal group founded by religious broadcaster Pat Robertson, said his office is trying to determine if the agreement runs afoul of U.S. law.
“The very idea that there is a common carrier airline service that would deny an American citizen in America access to their services because they are Jewish or have religious items such as a yarmulke, a cross or a priestly collar, is deeply disturbing,” May said.
May said he is “trying to get answers” from Delta.
“They have not responded in a way that answers the question,” he said. “Hopefully they’ll do so.”
In a statement to Religion News Service on Thursday (June 23), Delta said it “does not discriminate, nor do we condone discrimination against any protected class of passenger in regards to age, race, nationality, religion, or gender.”
The airline, which did not deny the new policy, insisted that it has no control over who may fly to Saudi Arabia.
“Delta must also comply with all applicable laws in every country it serves,” adding that passengers are responsible for obtaining the necessary travel documents required for entry.
“If a passenger travels without proper documents, the passenger may be denied entry into that country and our airline may be fined,” the statement said.
The Jan. 10 agreement allows Saudi Arabian Airlines to become a member of SkyTeam in 2012 after “fulfilling all membership requirements,” according to a SkyTeam statement. The Saudi airline is SkyTeam’s first member from the Middle East.
The policy has deeply angered U.S. Jewish groups, especially since Delta is an American carrier.
“Saudi Arabia, a U.S. ally, should be strongly condemned for its despicable discrimination against Jews,” said Kenneth Bandler, a spokesman for the New York-based American Jewish Committee.
“For an American company, our nation’s values should trump narrow business interests. Delta should be the first to reject Saudi airlines as a SkyTeam member.”
Dan Diker, secretary general of the World Jewish Congress, said he hoped “Delta will not be complicit with what appears to be a demonstrably anti-Semitic and racist policy by Saudi Arabian Airlines.”
Sorry but this is just wrong. We know that Israel and most of the Middle East have beef, but we’re talking about Americans here. There is no way Steven Spielberg and the rest of the Jews are gonna let this one fly. Looks like no SkyTeam partnership for SAA!