Gulf airline in the clear for refusing service to Israeli man
A German court dismissed charges against Kuwait Airways for the alleged discrimination of an Israeli passenger. The court ruled that the Israeli passenger should not be awarded a compensation by the airline, as “discrimination on grounds of nationality is not sanctioned by the Anti-Discrimination Law”, thus causing indignation both from local authorities and Jewish groups.
The Frankfurt am Main Regional Court released a statement on November 16, 2017, explaining the argument setting and the reasons for ruling. According to the court, the Israeli plaintiff booked a flight from Frankfurt to Bangkok with a five-hour stopover in Kuwait City via Kuwait Airways online portal. The passenger later informed the Kuwaiti airline of his Israeli nationality, and the airline canceled the flight, offering the passenger transportation at the airline’s expense from Kuwait to Bangkok via another carrier without a stopover.
The Kuwaiti airline justifies its actions with a 1964 Israel boycott law, which prohibits entering into agreements with Israeli citizens. The violations in Kuwait are punishable by imprisonment, hard labor or a hefty fine.
The German court stated that “it is in the assessment of a legal impossibility not to assess from the perspective of a German court, whether the law of a foreign state - here the law (...) of the state of Kuwait - makes sense and whether it is according to the scores the German and European legal system”. As for the airline, “it is not reasonable […] to fulfill a contract if it commits a violation of the law in its own state and therefore expects to be punished there”.
The court also noted that the “anti-discrimination law prohibits, inter alia, a discrimination based on race, ethnic origin or religion. Discrimination on grounds of nationality is not sanctioned by the Anti-Discrimination Law”, concluding that there is no legal basis for awarding compensation to the Israeli citizen. The ruling can still be appealed.
The court decision to dismiss the discrimination charges was met with criticism, as similar cases in the United States and Switzerland were ruled in favor for the Israeli passengers. According to Reuters, the Central Council of Jews in Germany called the Kuwait’s Israeli boycott law “reminiscent of Nazi policies” calling to ban the airline from flying in Germany. Similar opinion was also expressed by the Mayor of Frankfurt, who also views the actions of the airline as discriminatory and believes it should be banned from operating in Frankfurt.
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