German official demands ban on Kuwait Airways over anti-Israel discrimination

A German Justice Department official on Friday urged his government to revoke Kuwait Airways’ landing rights, in response to the Gulf state’s national airline ban on transporting Israeli citizens.

Christian Lange, the department’s parliamentary state secretary, appealed to Chancellor Angela Merkel in a letter to personally advocate a ban on the airline’s operations in Germany, saying that the discrimination displayed by Kuwait Airways was intolerable, Reuters reported.

“We cannot say ‘Never again’ at a remembrance ceremony, but then remain silent when activists in Germany call for a boycott of Israel, or, as in this case, when an airline refuses to carry Israeli citizens,” Lange said, referring to Germany’s recent marking of the anniversary of the Nov. 9, 1938 Nazi pogroms against the Jews.

“Especially the German government must make clear that we reject this form of discrimination and hate, and that we stand by the side of our Israeli friends,” he added.

Lange’s appeal followed a Frankfurt court ruling Thursday which stated that Kuwait Airways didn’t have to transport the Israeli on a 2016 flight that originated in Frankfurt and included a stopover in Kuwait City because it would have faced legal repercussions at home.

The court noted the airline wasn’t allowed to have contracts with Israelis under Kuwait’s regulations boycotting of Israel.

The court said it didn’t evaluate whether “this law make sense,” but that the airline risked repercussions that were “not reasonable” for violating it, such as fines or prison time for employees.

Earlier Friday, German deputy foreign minister Michael Roth told Die Welt newspaper that his country’s ambassador has been asked to raise the issue with Kuwaiti authorities.

“It is incomprehensible to me that in today’s Germany a passenger cannot board a plane simply because of his nationality,” Roth said.

German Transport Minister Christian Schmidt joined in on the criticism of the Kuwaiti airline as well, Reuters reported.

“This requires contacts at the ministerial level,” Schmidt told the Bild newspaper in an interview to be published on Saturday.

“We will do all we can within our legal means to prevent something like this in the future,” Schmidt told the paper.

The Israeli citizen, who was identified in court papers as Adar M., a student living in Germany, sued Kuwait Airways after it canceled his booking for a flight from Frankfurt to Bangkok that included a stop-over in Kuwait City.

The cancellation came a few days before M.’s scheduled departure in August 2016 when he revealed he had an Israeli passport. The airline offered to book him on a nonstop flight to Bangkok with another carrier.

The man refused the offer and filed the lawsuit, seeking compensation for alleged discrimination. He also insisted the airline should have to accept him as a passenger.

The court rejected his discrimination claim ruling that German law covers discrimination based on race, ethnicity or religion, but not nationality.

Germany’s Central Council of Jews condemned the ruling, calling it “unbearable that a foreign company operating based on deeply anti-Semitic national laws is allowed to be active in Germany.”

A lawyer for the Israeli passenger called the verdict “deeply shocking.”

“This is an embarrassing ruling for democracy and for Germany.”


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