In January, Delta Airlines announced that Saudi Arabian Airlines is joining Delta’s SkyTeam network of international airline partners. Yesterday, WorldNet Daily reported that Delta employees would be enforcing a no-Jews policy when checking in passengers on SAA flights from the United States to Saudi Arabia.
I looked around the web for verification, and found the following: In 2004, a Saudi government website, promoting visits to Saudi Arabia, did state a “no Jews” policy. Apparently in response to extensive U.S. criticism, that statement was removed. The visa required for entry to Saudi Arabia mandates that the applicant disclose his or her religion. The typical advice for American visitors is to write “non-Muslim” or “Christian.” However, a 2007 article in Commentary magazine by scholar Joshua Muravchik reports on his recent visit to Saudi Arabia; he wrote “Jewish” on his visa application, and was nevertheless granted a Saudi visa.
It does seem to be widely reported, without contradiction, that Saudi authorities will deny visas to anyone who has an Israel entrance or exit stamp on his passport. This category would include not only Jews who have visited Israel, but also the many Christians who visit the Holy Land, as well as business travelers to Israel. Several other African and Asian governments apparently have similar policies.
At airport check-in in the United States, a responsibility of the U.S. airline which is checking in travelers for an international partner airline is to verify that the travelers have the appropriate documentation required by U.S. law (e.g., a passport) and by the foreign airline (e.g., an entry visa from the Saudi government).
The WND article reprints two letters from Delta Airlines to a person who raised questions about the above. Essentially, Delta’s position is that they just enforce whatever the destination government requires, and if you don’t like the destination government ‘s discrimination, go complain to the U.S. State Department.
I would have preferred an answer to the effect of “We have confirmed that Saudi Arabia does not discriminate against Jewish visitors, or people who have visited Israel, and we would never partner with an airline which would require us to enforce such reprehensible policies.”
Saudi Arabian Airlines is government-owned (with some ancillary services, such as catering, being privatized). Delta Airlines is exercising a choice to make its employees complicit in the enforcement of the Saudi government’s policies of hatred and discrimination against anyone who visits Israel. If Delta’s business alliance with the Saudi government is conditional on that government not reinstating a formal ban on all Jewish visitors, Delta has not taken the opportunity to say so. When I travel, I will exercise my own choice not to fly Delta.