Lawfare Project Applauds Senators' Letter Urging Investigation into Discriminatory Policies of Middle East Airlines; Brings New Legal Analysis to Legislators


The Lawfare Project applauds the recent efforts of United States Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Edward Markey (D-MA), Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Brian Schatz (D-HI), calling on the United States Departments of Transportation and Commerceto investigate the discriminatory actions of several Middle Eastern airlines with respect to their refusal to sell airline tickets to Israeli passport holders for flights originating out of JFK International Airport in New York.

Kuwaiti Airways Corporation ("KAC") and Saudi Arabian Airlines, among others, discriminate against Israeli passport holders in contravention of United States law. The domestic Kuwaiti and Saudi laws to which these airlines are ostensibly abiding in their refusal to sell tickets to Israelis is part of the broader Arab League boycott regime, originally declared in 1948 at the conclusion of the Israel-Arab war, that broke out following Israel's declaration of independence. In boycotting Israeli goods, products, and people, the Arab League is waging an economic war to delegitimize and bankrupt Israel. As part of the Arab League boycott, however, any adherence to this type of law by a Kuwaiti or Saudi corporation doing business in the United States is a violation of U.S. anti-foreign boycott laws and regulations, many of which were implemented with the stated purpose of prohibiting and penalizing commercial activities within the United States which discriminate against Israeli persons and corporations.

LP has been actively focused on combating this hateful and illegal conduct. We have produced legal analysis on the potential liability of Kuwait Airways Corporation ("KAC"), and any other international airlines with direct flights from United States airports to non-Arab League destinations, which refuse to sell tickets to Israeli passport holders. KAC is violating a host of state and federal laws to which it is subject while operating in the United States.

Due to the fact that KAC leases commercial space from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to service its flights out of JFK, and because KAC's operations in the United States are subject to U.S. law under the U.S.-Kuwait Open Skies Agreement, the Port Authority may also be exposed to liability as a result of the intentional discrimination against potential ticket-purchasers on the basis of their race, ethnicity, and/or national origin.

The Lawfare Project's memo has been delivered to the Port Authority's legal department. With receipt of the memo, the Port Authority was officially put "on notice" with an opportunity to cure the bad acts of its tenant. A failure to take any action would indicate a tacit approval by the Port Authority of the discrimination, knowing that KAC's actions were being taken in violation of a host of federal and state laws. We encourage the Port Authority to take all necessary measures to ensure that entities operating on its premises are in compliance with U.S. law.