German flag flutters half-mast on top of the Reichstag building, the seat of the German lower house of parliament Bundestag in Berlin, March 25.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
German judge Wolfram Sauer, who ruled last week in Frankfurt that Kuwait Airways can bar an Israeli passenger from flying on the Gulf country’s airline because of his nationality, juxtaposed the Jewish state with the US classified state-sponsors of terrorism, Iran and North Korea, to justify his legal decision.
The Jerusalem Post obtained the 13-page legal ruling by Sauer on Saturday, in which he laid out his reasoning in favor of Kuwait’s state-owned airline boycotting Israeli passengers.
Nathan Gelbart, the German lawyer who represented the Israeli passenger Adar M., told the Post
that it was “unconscionable that the judge” would reference “Israel, the only Middle East democracy” in the same breath as the terrorist-sponsoring states Iran and North Korea. Gelbart, who is acting on behalf of the US-based human rights organization The Lawfare Project, said the comparison was “quite insulting,” and will appeal the Frankfurt court’s decision against Adar in the next few days.
Sauer wrote in his legal defense of the Kuwaiti boycott law of Israel that “such rules, in different expressions, are not foreign to Germany’s legal system,” linking his decision to sanctions regulations against the Islamic Republic of Iran and North Korea.
Gelbart, one of Germany’s most prominent attorneys, said “the German justice system is helping Kuwait to implement its own racist boycott against Israel.” Kuwait passed a law in 1964 barring commerce with Israelis.
Writing in the mass-circulation BILD
on Friday, the journalist Antje Schippmann said that “the antisemitic [Kuwait] boycott law is merely being rated as an embargo ‘imposed on one state by another state.’”
She added: “So, the German judge is putting sanctions against terrorist states on the same level as discrimination against people from Israel... It obviously did not occur to the judge that such discrimination against Jews living in Germany is quite unbearable.”
Gelbart said Germany is not obligated to implement foreign economic laws like Kuwait’s boycott law against the Jewish state. Sauer “made the case for Kuwait Airways,” including introducing arguments in favor of the Arab state that Kuwaiti Airways did not initiate. The Frankfurt-based judge argued that Germany’s anti-discrimination law did not cover Adar’s Israeli nationality.
Germany has a relatively weak anti-bias law, in contrast to many Western European and American anti-discrimination laws.
Kuwait Airlines banned Adar in 2016, from one of its flights from Frankfurt to Bangkok that had a stopover in Kuwait. The Israeli man was stripped of the ticket he purchased when the airline saw his Israeli nationality.
Germany’s Minister of Transport Christian Schmidt said he plans to review the Kuwait case and expressed dismay about the discrimination. Germany’s Foreign Ministry held a conversation with Kuwait’s Ambassador to Germany but it was not an official summoning that would spell a form of rebuke.
The Parliament of the German state of Hesse, where the Frankfurt court is located, passed a cross-party resolution on Friday slamming Kuwait’s boycott law against the Jewish state.
According to the resolution, Kuwait’s boycott law against Israel “stands in contradiction to the principles of an open society, and is not only an anti-Israel policy, but clearly antisemitic.”
The Hesse legislature called on Kuwait’s government to change its 1964 law. The lawmakers also urged Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration to use economic levers of pressure against Kuwaiti services to change the Gulf state’s anti-Israel conduct.
Germany’s Social Democrat Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Chancellor Merkel have not weighed in on the dispute.
Volker Beck, a former Green Party MP and head of the German-Israel parliamentary group, tweeted to his 85,000-plus followers on Friday about the Kuwait Airways ban of Israelis: “What does Ms. Merkel have to say? And where is our raison d’état? Months of silence?” Germany considers the Jewish state to be part of its raison d’état
– usually translated as “reason for being” or “national interests.”
In a similar case in New York City, Kuwait Airways pulled the plug on its route between New York City and London because the US Department of Transportation determined the Gulf airline engaged in discrimination by barring Israelis citizens from service.