Kuwait Air’s ban on Israelis sparks ongoing legal battle

“The Lawfare Project will appeal this latest German ruling to secure justice for our client,” the pro-Israel legal action group vowed. 

By Jack Gold, World Israel News

The Lawfare Project has not abandoned its fight against anti-Israel discrimination in Germany, even after losing an appellate case brought against Kuwait Airways on behalf of an Israeli passenger.

An Israeli student who purchased a ticket in 2016 from Germany to Thailand was barred from a Kuwait Airways flight originating within Europe because of the airline’s discriminatory policy banning all Israelis from flying.

The German appellate court last month upheld the lower court’s verdict permitting Kuwait Airways to discriminate against Israelis and Jews, despite labeling the policy “unacceptable.”

“As Israelis in practice are not allowed to enter the transit areas of Kuwait’s airport, the plaintiff cannot demand transportation by the Kuwaiti airline from Frankfurt to Bangkok with a stopover in Kuwait,” the Frankfurt-based High Court of Hesse ruled.

“The Lawfare Project has sought justice against Kuwait Airways for many years. We successfully forced the airline to terminate half its U.S. operations and all inter-European flights, and we are now pursuing legal actions in other jurisdictions,” the Lawfare Project, a pro-Israel legal action organization, stated Tuesday.

“The Lawfare Project will appeal this latest German ruling to secure justice for our client. At the same time, we continue to encourage Germany’s elected leaders to take action in response to this clear violation of European laws and unquestionable contradiction of its values. We are confident that the court’s ruling was incorrect and will be overturned on appeal, if not nullified by political action,” the organization added.

Mounting Pressure on Kuwait Airways

The ongoing saga surrounding the legal action has generated political pressure against Kuwait Airways.

Several major German political figures, including its transport minister and justice minister have said they will pursue this issue politically and diplomatically. Earlier this year, three regional parliaments in Germany—Bayern, Hessen, and Nordrhein-Westfalen—passed resolutions condemning Kuwait Airways for its racist policy.

“Our position is clear: it cannot and must not be that an airline refuses to carry Israelis in Germany,” said federal Minister of Transport Andreas Scheuer. “Discrimination and anti-Semitism are absolutely unacceptable.”

The Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency deemed the Israeli ban “unacceptable” and called for an extension of discrimination laws to counteract such cases in the future.

Similar opposition was voiced last year when the Frankfurt District Court found in favor of Kuwait Airways. Christian Lange, German State Secretary of the Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, demanded that Chancellor Angela Merkel intervene in the matter.

“We must never be silent when Jews are discriminated against or harassed. And the German federal government must make it clear that it rejects this form of discrimination and hatred — and that we are on the side of our Israeli friends. Our friendship with Israel is non-negotiable. Such discrimination is not tolerable!” he wrote her.

Michael Roth, Germany’s Foreign Minister, contacted the Kuwaiti Ambassador to Germany to request that he raise this matter with the Kuwaiti government. In comments to the newspaper Die Welt he said, “It is incomprehensible to me if in today’s Germany a passenger cannot board a plane simply because of his nationality.”

Kuwait has faced legal action in Switzerland and the US, where legal pressure led the airline to cancel its popular NYC-London flights, and all of its inter-European flights, rather than compromise on its anti-Israel policy.