UPDATE: Clarification from the Religious News Service, which first issued the story, may be found here.
They say they have to respect local laws in any country they fly into. Exactly how many of those discriminate against Israelis and “Jewish-sounding” names? More on this story. “Airline to Jewish rumor: ‘Delta does not discriminate.’,” from USA Today, June 24:
Earlier today some Jewish and Christian readers in the blogosphere were fired up about stories that Delta Air Lines, in its new alliance with Saudi Arabian Airlines, might wind up enforcing a Saudi policy of not admitting Israelis and non-Islamic religious items like Bibles on their flights.
Delta spokesman Trebor Banstetter responded with its non-discrimination policy and posted on their blog:
This is so condescending:
We’ve gotten questions today from you, our concerned customers, following an article about Saudi Arabian Airlines joining SkyTeam (the global airline alliance that includes Delta as a member). After listening to many of your thoughts today, we’d like to take this opportunity to share some information and help to clarify some of the questions we know you have.
First and foremost, I think one of the most important things to mention here is that Delta does not discriminate nor do we condone discrimination against anyone in regards to age, race, nationality, religion, or gender.
That said, some have raised questions about whether Saudi Arabian Airlines’ membership in SkyTeam means Delta is adopting any type of policies that could present barriers to travel for some passengers, including Jewish customers. For this particular concern, it’s important to realize that visa requirements to enter any country are dictated by that nation’s government, not the airlines, and they apply to anyone entering the country regardless of whether it’s by plane, bus or train.
We, like all international airlines, are required to comply with all applicable laws governing entry into every country we serve. You as passengers are responsible for obtaining the necessary travel documents, such as visas and certification of required vaccinations, and we’re responsible for making sure that you have the proper documentation before you board.
According to Religion News Service,
Saudi Arabia bans anyone with an Israeli stamp in their passport from entering the country, even in transit. Many Jews believe the kingdom has also withheld visas from travelers with Jewish-sounding names.
The USA Today commentary continues:
Maybe. Jewish leader Rabbi Irwin Kula was wary about inflaming concerns on this, saying he knows many professionals who are very open about their Jewish religious identity who fly to Saudi Arabia all the time for business.
As the rumor of no-Jews traveled the Internet all day, Detroit rabbi and blogger Jason Miller points out:
The issue here is one of principle. Delta isn’t being forced to include Saudi Arabian Airlines into its Sky Team Alliance. In fact, Delta could stand on principle and refuse to include Saudi Arabian Airlines based on its discriminatory policy.