After a German court ruled in favor of the airline. German officials are calling for action against Kuwait Airways over its discrimination against Israelis.
German government ministries have reacted strongly to a ruling in a Frankfurt District Court last week in favor of Kuwait Airways in a lawsuit against the airline over its discrimination against Israelis.
The case was brought by an Israeli passenger, represented by The Lawfare Project, who had bought a ticket from Frankfurt to Bangkok but was barred from boarding his flight because of his nationality.
Kuwait bans all its citizens and companies from doing any business with the Jewish State or its citizens. Kuwait Airways enforces this policy strictly, banning Israelis from its flights. It has faced legal action in Switzerland and the US, where legal pressure led to the airline canceling its popular NYC-London flights, and all its inter-European flights, rather than compromise its anti-Israel policy.
The Judge’s explanation for his decision has not yet been made public. Counsel for the Israeli passenger who brought the case have said that correspondence from the judge makes it seem likely that Kuwait Airways was able to get away with their systematic, institutional racism towards Israelis because it offered to purchase a flight for the Israeli on a different airline.
Following the ruling, Germany’s Foreign Minister Michael Roth has contacted the Kuwaiti Ambassador to Germany to request that he raise this matter with the Kuwaiti government at the earliest opportunity.
“It is incomprehensible to me if in today’s Germany a passenger cannot board a plane simply because of his nationality,” he said in comments to the Die Welt newspaper.
The State Secretary of the Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, Christian Lange, also issued a strong rebuke to Kuwait Airways and wrote to Chancellor Angela Merkel to demand her intervention on the matter.
In his letter to the Chancellor released by the Justice Ministry, Lange wrote: “I would like to ask you hereby, as Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, to personally ensure that the landing rights of Kuwait Airways in Germany are immediately withdrawn. 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!”
A ‘Grotesque’ Ruling
Brooke Goldstein, Executive Director of The Lawfare Project, the law firm representing the plaintiff commented on the court’s ruling that “to see a Jewish person banned from exercising his freedoms in Germany in 2017 is chilling enough. To see that discrimination whitewashed and legitimized by a German judge is grotesque.”
“I applaud Minister Roth and State Secretary Lange for taking a stand and hope we will see justice done,” she said of the latest development in this spiraling saga.”
Nathan Gelbart, the Lawfare Project’s German counsel confirmed that the Israeli passenger would appeal.
The verdict “was a dark moment for justice in Germany.” The intervention from the Greman officials makes him “optimistic that anti-Semitism will not be tolerated in Germany,” he said.
The plaintiff will be launching an appeal. The Lawfare Project, which fights legal cases against anti-Jewish discrimination around the world, will announce the next steps of the appeal process shortly. “We cannot let this injustice stand. We will continue to fight such obvious anti-Semitic bigotry using the full force of the law, in Germany and anywhere else,” said Goldstein.
Outside of the courts, Kuwait Airways has come under political pressure in Germany to cease its discriminatory commercial practice.
Last month, the German Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, Alexander Dobrindt, ordered a Federal Transport Ministry investigation into whether the airline’s current policy of refusing service to Israeli nationals violates existing air traffic laws. The investigation is ongoing, and is independent of the lawsuit and the troubling court decision.
Mayor and Treasurer of Frankfurt, Uwe Becker, has added to the pressure against Kuwait Airways in Germany. That pressure is expected to increase as a result of the litigant signaling his intention to appeal the judge’s decision.