ZOA asks Delta to back out of deal with Saudis

Jewish Zionist group asks airline CEO to reconsider business deal with Saudi Arabian carrier over questionable policies.

June 30, 2011 12:57
2 minute read.
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The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) sent a letter on Wednesday to Delta Air Lines CEO Richard H. Anderson voicing concerns that the airliner's new alliance with Saudi Arabian Airlines would lead to discriminatory practices against Jewish travelers. 

"We write on behalf of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), the oldest and one of the largest pro-Israel organizations in the US, regarding Delta Air Lines’ decision to add Saudi Arabian Airlines to its SkyTeam in 2012..., began the letter. It then proceeded to outline Delta's and Saudi Arabian Airlines' policies before requesting the cancellation of the business cooperation between the two.

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Delta Air Lines came under fire recently by Jewish and rights groups for adding Saudi Arabian Airlines to its SkyTeam because Saudi Arabian carriers are known to enact their country's discriminatory policies against Jews, Christians, other non-Muslims, and women.

In the letter, the ZOA quoted the official website of the Saudi Supreme Commission for Tourism, "[The website] reflected that it was the policy of the Saudi Arabian government to deny visas to, among others, (1) anyone holding an Israeli passport or holding a passport with an Israeli arrival or departure stamp; and (2) 'Jewish People.'"

A US State Department report on Saudi Arabia was also referenced in the letter. "According to the State Department, women visitors must be met by an authorized sponsor upon arriving in Saudi Arabia.  A married woman must have her husband’s permission to leave Saudi Arabia – even if she is a US citizen and even if her husband does not have Saudi nationality.  In addition, homosexuals are not welcome in Saudi Arabia. They have been imprisoned and even executed in Saudi Arabia," the ZOA wrote.

Delta issued an official statement on Wednesday assuring that it does not support discriminatory policies based on race, religion, gender, nationality, or age. The airline also explained the terms of its agreement with the Saudi carrier, which do not include flying to Saudi Arabia or code sharing with Saudi Arabian Airlines, but rather "simply allow passengers to book tickets on multiple carriers," in the statement.

While acknowledging Delta's explanation of the terms, the Zionist Organization of America, in its letter, "urge(s) Delta to retract its decision to add Saudi Arabian Airlines to its SkyTeam because, quite simply, it is the moral, ethical and right thing to do."

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