German Court powerless to stop Kuwait Airways anti-Israeli policy

Lawfare Project brought the issue into public eye.

September 25, 2018 14:45
2 minute read.
German Court powerless to stop Kuwait Airways anti-Israeli policy

The German flag is pictured at the Reichstag building in Berlin, Germany, November 7, 2017. (photo credit: REUTERS/HANNIBAL HANSCHKE)


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After a German court on Tuesday slammed Kuwait Airways for its ban on Israeli passengers, it said practical issues prevented it from nixing the ban, the Lawfare Project NGO has reported.

Further, the High Court of Hesse said that even if the Israeli, whom Kuwait Airways refused to fly from Frankfurt to Bangkok in 2016, had a valid ticket, Germany only had an impact on the part of a flight within its borders, not stopovers in Kuwait or other destina- tions.

Despite the ruling, which the Lawfare Project had anticipated after an earli- er hearing, the lawsuit itself brought criticism of Kuwait Airways from the German judiciary and the country’s political class.

The Lawfare Project uses legal meth- ods to fight discrimination against Israelis and Jews.

The underlying basis of the case was that most Israelis are Jewish and that this meant the law amounted to an antisemitic law that violated German laws.

On September 6, the court indicated it accepted the Lawfare Project’s argu- ment made by local German counsel Nathan Gelbart that the Kuwaiti ban “must not be applied in Germany as it contradicts important German val- ues, including the value of friendship toward the State of Israel.”

It also said that as a general matter, the Israeli plaintiff’s contract, by pur - chasing a ticket, should be enforceable.

However, the NGO said the court “expressed doubts that in the event of a verdict against Kuwait Airways, the verdict would be respected.... Factually, the court said, the Israeli client would not be able to leave the first plane after it landed in Kuwait, because even the transit area of the airport is under the territorial integrity of Kuwait.

“Put simply, the court seems to have dismissed the claim because of the antisemitic reality that would prevent an Israeli leaving the plane when it stopped in Kuwait,” the Lawfare Proj- ect added.

Lawfare Project executive director Brooke Goldstein, who has represented the plaintiff, said, “This is a tragic day for German law. Rather than be held accountable before the law, the court has rewarded Kuwait Airways for its antisemitism. If, as the court says, the execution of the contract is impos- sible, the fault for that lies with the racist policy of the airline, not with the nationality of our client.”

Gelbart said, “It is not that Kuwait Airways is incapable of fulfilling its legal obligations, it is simply unwilling to do so and therefore should have been ordered by the court to transport our client.”

He also said that while the NGO may consider additional appeals, the next move should be to get Germany’s polit- ical class to take policy actions based on their public criticism of the airline.

A statement from the NGO said that earlier this year, Germany’s act- ing minister of transportation, Chris- tian Schmidt, wrote to Kuwaiti Min- ister of Labor, Economics and Social Affairs Hind Al-Sabeeh regarding what he called the “disconcerting” policy of Kuwait Airways. It is “fundamen- tally unacceptable to exclude citizens because of their nationality,” wrote Schmidt.

Since last year’s verdict, three region- al parliaments in Germany – Bayern, Hessen and Nordrhein-Westfalen – have passed resolutions condemning Kuwait Airways for its racist policy, said the statement.

Previous legal action against Kuwait Airways by the Lawfare Project led to cancellation of various flights by the airline in the US and Switzerland.

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