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We Love To Fly, Unless You’re A Jew

Delta’s deal with Saudi Arabian Airlines brings inconvenient truths to light

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It was all over the blogo-, Twitter-, and other sort-of-spheres last night: Due to a partnership with Saudi Arabian Arilines, Delta won’t fly Jews to the Kingdom. Want to fly Delta from JFK to Riyadh? If you’re a man, better be prepared to drop trou and show you’re uncut; if you’re a woman, well, why are you flying to Saudi Arabia? [UPDATE: Yes, I was and am aware that Muslim men are also circumcised, as Dan notes. Apologies for the sloppy joke.)

It’s not clear whether Delta’s partnership (one of many for an airline) requires it to deny Jews admission to any Delta flights to Saudi Arabia, as one rabbi alleged in HuffPo; or if Delta merely remains bound by all the laws of the countries to and from which it flies, and that Saudi Arabia as a policy denies entry to Israelis or those with Israeli stamps in their passports and (reportedly) sometimes to those with Jewish-sounding names, as a Delta spokesperson maintained. Either way, Delta should be held to account, right? “Delta could stand on principle and refuse to include Saudi Arabian Airlines based on its discriminatory policy,” the rabbi, Jason Miller, argued. “No, it’s not Delta’s fault that the Saudi government is anti-Semitic, but it doesn’t have to go along with it.”

Valid point. But, the possibility of Delta being forced to screen passengers beforehand (in violation of U.S. law?) due to this new partnership is in fact a welcome dialectical development, a shattering of false, nay blind consciousness, and a heightening of the realities and the contradictions so that they are high enough for everyone to see. Saudi Arabia is a major U.S. ally, despite its anti-Semitism (and, sure, animus toward Israel); sponsorship of terrorism (who do you think gave Al Qaeda its seed money?); and misogyny (the Saudi ban on women driving has been much in the news lately). We depend on Saudi Arabia as a check on Iran, we depend on it to keep the oil flowing, and did I mention the oil part? Nobody can claim ignorance of the quid pro quos and the double standards involved in the relationship. And yet we persist, pausing only to chastise Delta for reminding us of what we’d rather forget: We are Delta.

This has been another episode of Vulgar Marxism on The Scroll.

Delta Adopts Saudi Arabian Airlines’s No Jew Policy [HuffPo]
Airline to Jewish Rumor: ‘Delta Does Not Discriminate’ [USA Today Faith & Reason]
Earlier: You Can’t Start a Revolution on MySpace!

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Dan Klein says:

Since Muslims are cut too, all baring it would prove would be whether you tilt to the left or the right–unfortunately, centrism seems to be in decline.

Steve Stein says:

I have no particular interest in defending Delta here, but how about the other western airlines that service Saudi Arabia? United? American? As far as I know, no airline will board passengers who can’t enter the destination country. Is Delta any different here?

Actually, Dan, you would think an airline with a name like Delta could accommodate all.

If that line fell flat, it’s a Nin reference.

Paul Brandon says:

Does Delta actually fly planes into Saudi Arabia, or is it a code sharing deal where Delta allows other airlines to use Delta flight codes to make it easier for Delta customers to book on those airlines?
If it is the latter, Delta has limited control on how those flights are operated.

The real issue, of course, is OUR relationship with Saudi Arabia; our addictive dependency on its oil. Since there are no immediate alternative sources of oil (oil shale and offshore drilling would take about ten years to produce a significant quantity of oil), our only solution is (as Thomas Friedman has said) to reduce our consumption of oil through increased efficiency and conservation.

Doesn’t anyone do research before writing this stuff? Delta does not, and will not fly to Saudi Arabia. No American airline does. And this is not Delta’s Sky club, it is a European consortium which has just voted to add Saudi airlines to its group. It is not a partnership between Delta and Saudi Arabia. Should Delta pull out of the group because the Saudis are part of it? That is the issue here. And, no, I don’t think it has to pull out, though I wouldn’t criticize it if it did.

There are real issues to deal with rather this manufactured, and widely misreported, one.

Mike Lieber says:

There is a lot of nonsense in this issue. I visited Saudi Arabia a few years ago nad flew Saudia Airlines. On my visa application there was the line for “Religion” and I put down “Jewish”, and so it appeared on my visa. I was told that the reason the Saudis wanted this information is that only Muslims could visit the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. So it could have been asked in a less provocative manner (Muslim? — yes or no?) Nevertheless I never felt any discrimination as an American Jew. Yes – the situation was different for my female associates, who did encounter gender restrictions — head-covering, going out without a male escort, etc.

I know that Israelis or anyone with an Israeli stamp on their passport would not have been admitted. The same is true for some other Arab countries. But Israel will stamp a separate piece of paper so that it can be removed from the passport.

Ed Lobel says:

Boycott Delta and any other airline that will not let Jews and Catholics and Protestants fly on flights that go to Saudi Arabia!

Alex says:

@Mike Lieber Nice to see someone has researched through the hysteria.

Quite a few years back, the Arab League decided to boycott any country that did business with Israel. (As you know, Jews were systematicly removing Jews from their place of birth). Some American companies honored the boycott. One that did was Pepsi Cola. Coca-Cola did not. To this day, the Arab countries I have visited, still don’t sell Coke, while in Israel, there is no Pepsi. Some things never change.

I meant to say that Jews born in Arab countries, were told to go in 1948.

Susan At Delta says:

Hi, this is Susan Elliott with Delta. Just want to provide an update because we see there is some confusion about our relationship with Saudi Arabian Airlines. We do not operate service to Saudi Arabia and do not codeshare with any airline that serves that country.

Delta’s only agreement with Saudi Arabian Airlines is a standard industry agreement, which allows passengers to book tickets on multiple carriers, similar to the agreements other US legacy carriers 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.

Read More:

Binyamin in O says:

Does El Al discriminate against Arab Americans? You betcha.,7340,L-3317412,00.html

Jabbawock says:

Hey Marc Tracy – before writing this garbage, you might want to actually do some research, y’know, like a real journalist might.

This whole story is bogus. Read Adam Hochberg’s debunking:

Shameful, Tablet, just shameful.

Carl says:

That’s OK. If Marc writes unsubstantiated lies about Israel why not about Saudi Arabia?
BTW why any self-respecting Jew would want to visit Saudi Arabia is beyond me.

Will says:

Binyamin in O,

You pull an article from 2006 and try to relate it to this issue?

That old piece you dug up has nothing to do with El Al – it is about the Israeli government applying the same security measures equally to all who fit a terrorist profile – regardless of which passport they hold. El Al has been a private company for many years now, not a government entity.

This is done to protect the Israeli people from the terrorists who seek to destroy the sovereign Jewish nation and all of its inhabitants.

The anti-Jewish discrimination by Saudi Arabia is hateful, immoral, and wrong.

If all freedom loving people refuse to do business with US airlines who get in bed with Jew haters, they might reconsider doing business with the sheiks.

“Politics makes for strange bedfellows”. I have nothing against the US / Saudi alliance. Saudi Arabian airlines flies to / from the US, and they will follow their government’s policies. That doesn’t mean that we have to support US based airlines following their lead.

Binyamin in O says:

Will, you don’t like the 2006 cite? Try this one, from 2010.,7340,L-3931210,00.html

(Bubahah, there are dozens of reports available by Google search on Israeli profiling of Arab looking/sounding passengers on El Al flights.)

I agree with you, BTW, that anti-Jewish discrimination by any of the Arab governments is hateful, immoral and wrong. So is Israeli apartheid.

MonkFish says:

My sister-in-law just got back from Israel where she got involved in a short-lived but torrid love affair with an Israeli Arab. She was not reported to the police. No one showed up at her door to arrest her and take her away for fornicating with a member of a subaltern racial group ( So much for “Israeli apartheid” Ben.

sabril says:

If Jewish people had a track record of being heavily disproportionately involved in attempts to smuggle bombs onto planes, it would be completely reasonable for Saudi airlines to pay extra attention to Jewish passengers.

I’d love to get a quote from you on this topic. Can you please email me? Thanks!

Good article, I Just Love Hello Kitty BTW!!!


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We Love To Fly, Unless You’re A Jew

Delta’s deal with Saudi Arabian Airlines brings inconvenient truths to light

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