Israeli Fights German Court Ruling on Kuwait Airways' Ban, Calling It 'anti-Semitic Discrimination'

'We cannot allow our laws to be subverted by the state-sponsored racism of our nations,' man's lawyer says

File photo: Kuwait Airways check-in counters at Kuwait Airport, March 18, 2012
Gustavo Ferrari/AP

An Israeli man appealed on Monday against a German court's ruling upholding Kuwait Airways' right to ban him from boarding a flight due to his citizenship, a legal decision that triggered sharp criticism from German officials and Jewish groups.

The appeal argues that ruling accepted a racist Kuwaiti law and allowed the airline to override German laws requiring that airlines transport any passenger with valid travel documents, according to the Lawfare Project, which filed the appeal.

"We cannot allow our laws to be subverted by the state-sponsored racism of our nations," said Nathan Gelbart, the German attorney for the group, which fights anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli discrimination around the world.

He said the decision by the Frankfurt district court had allowed "anti-Semitic discrimination to be imported into our country and helped whitewash and sanitize it."

Kuwait Airways has not commented on the decision.

The Frankfurt court last month ruled Kuwait Airways had the right to refuse to carry the Israeli man on a flight to Bangkok that began in Frankfurt and included a stopover in Kuwait City since it was abiding by the laws of Kuwait, a country that does not recognize the state of Israel.

It said Germany's anti-discrimination law applied only in cases of discrimination on the basis of race, ethnic background or religion, not citizenship.

The ruling was sharply criticized by German government officials and the Central Council of Jews in Germany, which said the Kuwaiti law was reminiscent of Nazi policies.

Three German state parliaments in Bavaria, Hesse and North Rhine-Westphalia, have passed resolutions condemning the airline for its policy.

Acting Transportation Minister Christian Schmidt also raised concerns about the issue in a letter delivered to the Kuwaiti government in late November, saying it was "fundamentally unacceptable to exclude citizens because of their nationality," according to the Lawfare Project.

A spate of anti-Semitic acts in Germany in recent weeks, including the burning of Israeli flags, have triggered concern and calls by top officials to put more emphasis on the Holocaust in integration courses for migrants.

Rights groups say anti-Semitism and violent acts have increased in recent years amid growing support for far-right political groups and the influx of over a million migrants from Syria and other countries that are at war with Israel.