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Published On: Tue, Jul 16th, 2013

NY official, Bill de Blasio, targets Saudi airlines for not selling tickets to passengers with Israeli passports

New York City’s Public Advocate Bill de Blasio is leading an investigation into allegations that Saudi Arabian Airlines refuses to sell tickets to Israelis and is thus violating both federal and state law.

photo Ron Almo

photo Ron Almo

The ban applies even to Israelis wishing to use Saudi Arabia only as a transit point, not a final destination.

After hearing complaints from Israelis trying to book tickets on the official Saudi airline, de Blasio assigned one of his staffers to pose as an Israeli and try to book a ticket from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York to Mumbai, India.

The New York Post writes that on the airline’s website for booking online, there is a drop-down menu listing options for nationalities. No option for Israel appears, though the list is otherwise so comprehensive, there is an option for Antarctica which isn’t even a country that assigns passports.

This is the incident as recounted by the Post.

“I’m an Israeli citizen, and I didn’t see my nationality on there [drop-down menu]. I was wondering if I could just order the ticket through you,” the caller said.

The booking agent asked: “Do you have any other passports, other than the Israeli passport?”

When the caller said he didn’t, the agent put him on hold to check with a supervisor. The agent later informed the caller that he wouldn’t be welcome.

“Since you have Israeli nationality, you will not be allowed to go on Saudi Airlines,” the agent said.

The Jewish news site The Algemeiner reports that it is also a violation of New York state law.

“No city in the world has closer ties to Israel than we do, and yet Israeli citizens are being discriminated against right here at JFK. It’s not only illegal; it’s an affront to who we are,” said de Blasio who is also a candidate for New York City mayor.

“We won’t stop with just exposing these practices. We’ll pursue this with authorities in Albany and in Washington until Israeli nationals’ rights are respected,” he added.

De Blasio called a press conference in Times Square Monday where he said that he had sent a letter to Director General of Saudi Arabian Airlines Khalid Abdullah Almolhem to change the policy or else face consequences.

“Saudi Arabian Airlines uses U.S. airports and yet bans Israeli citizens from being able to fly on their airline,” he said. If the airline does not change its policy, “we will act to make sure they’re excluded from United States airports, starting with JFK,” The Algemeiner reported de Blasio as saying.

The Saudi carrier also flies to and from Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C., The Algemeiner reports.

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About the Author

- Roxanne "Butter" Bracco began with the Dispatch as Pittsburgh Correspondent, but will be providing reports and insights from Washington DC, Maryland and the surrounding region. Contact Roxie aka "Butter" at [email protected] ATTN: Roxie or Butter Bracco

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  1. SAS says:

    Good for them ! Giving the Israelis a taste of their own medicine !

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