Portrait Annina Schmidt
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Kuwait Airways: Five Years a Scandal

This article first appeared in the Jüdische Allgemeine.

Five years ago, Kuwait’s state-owned airline denied boarding to a student living in Germany because of his Israeli citizenship. An appeal is now scheduled for early May. After booking a Kuwait Airways flight via an online brokerage in 2016, the student’s ticket was cancelled by the airline.

Kuwait Airways offers connecting flights, including from Germany, which do not require a transit visa or entry into Kuwait. Israelis, however, are refused boarding. The state-owned airline justifies this by citing the country's own 1964 antisemitic boycott law.

There have been several objections to this antisemitic business practice from politicians and civil society in recent years and several cases have been brought before the German courts. To date, however, Kuwait Airways has not faced any serious consequences for this ongoing scandal - sending a troubling signal from Germany to Kuwait.

A clear position on Kuwait must finally be taken to show that this antisemitic practice is no longer acceptable in Germany - particularly in light of Germany’s own history.  Left unhindered, Kuwait can, via its state airline, continue enforcing its antisemitic legislation in Germany.

After five years of deadlock, Germany is long overdue in taking decisive action against this discriminatory business practice; the boycott must face consequences. If the fight against antisemitism is not to be simply lip service, and as long as Kuwait Airways is not prepared to make any changes, Germany should resort to suspending the airline's take-off and landing rights.

Annina Fichtner is Senior Associate, Policy at American Jewish Committee Berlin.