Passenger files appeal against Kuwait Airways decision in anti-Israeli discrimination case

Lawfare Project’s Brooke Goldstein: “The judge had a chance to protect the
victim of racist, antisemitic discrimination but chose instead to side with the perpetrator of it.”

FRANKFURT—The Israeli passenger who was barred from boarding a Kuwait Airways flight he had booked last year today filed an appeal against the Frankfurt District Court’s verdict on his case. Last month, the court found in favour of Kuwait Airways, legitimizing its policy of discriminating against Israelis. The appeal was submitted by Nathan Gelbart, the German counsel for The Lawfare Project, a legal think tank and litigation fund that fights anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli discrimination around the world.

The appeal argues that the verdict applied the racist law of a radical, totalitarian regime and allowed it to overrule German national air transportation laws that obligate every air carrier to transport any passenger with valid travel documents. In doing so, the court has aided and abetted Kuwait in imposing its antisemitic, anti-Israeli laws even though such discrimination is illegal in Germany. According to an archaic 1964 Kuwaiti law, all relations with Israeli citizens are prohibited.

The original verdict in favor of Kuwait Airways’ racist policy triggered outrage across Germany. Foreign Ministry State Secretary, Michael Roth, described it as “incomprehensible”, while State Secretary of the Ministry of Justice, Christian Lange, wrote to Chancellor Angela Merkel asking her to “personally ensure that the landing rights of Kuwait Airways in Germany are immediately withdrawn.”

The Acting Minister of Transport, Christian Schmidt, has now written to the Kuwaiti Minister of Labor, Economics and Social Affairs, Hind Al-Sabeeh, regarding what he called the “disconcerting” policy of Kuwait Airways. It is “fundamentally unacceptable to exclude citizens because of their nationality,” wrote Schmidt. Kuwait and Germany have had a bilateral aviation agreement since 1974. Any changes in that agreement must follow consultations. If, for example, Germany was to limit Kuwait Airways’ landing rights, Schmidt’s letter to the Kuwaiti minister would be an essential step in that process.

In addition, since the verdict, three regional parliaments in Germany—Bayern, Hessen, and Nordrhein-Westfalen—have passed resolutions condemning Kuwait Airways for its racist policy.

On previous occasions, legal pressure by The Lawfare Project against Kuwait Airways in the United States and Switzerland led to the airline cancelling its NYC-London flights, and all its inter-European flights, rather than compromising its discriminatory practices.

Brooke Goldstein, the Executive Director of The Lawfare Project, commented:

“The judge had a chance to protect the victim of racist, antisemitic discrimination but chose instead to side with the perpetrator of it. It has been encouraging, however, to see the level of outrage he has caused in Germany among decent people who will not let this injustice stand.”

Nathan Gelbart, The Lawfare Project’s German counsel who is representing the Israeli passenger, said:

“We thought we had consigned antisemitism to our history books. The Frankfurt District Court’s verdict has allowed antisemitic discrimination to be imported into our country and helped whitewash and sanitize it. We cannot allow our laws to be subverted by the state-sponsored racism of other nations.”

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