Rabbi Jason Miller Defends “Delta No Jews Policy” Story & Fish Rips It Apart

Two days ago, on Thursday, Flying With Fish wrote Delta “No Jews” Policy – Could This Story Be More Wrong?, in response to an article by Rabbi Jason Miller, published by the Huffington Post.

 

Rabbi Miller’s article was full of misinformation, even on some of the most basic points.  Yesterday, Friday, Rabbi Miller took the time to post comments to the Delta “No Jews” Policy – Could This Story Be More Wrong? blog post, defending his article with seven talking points to support his argument.

 

Rather than leave Rabbi Miller’s comment buried among comments of this post, the Rabbi’s entire follow argument is being published in this post below.

 

Rabbi Jason Miller’s comments are in bold, Flying With Fish’s responses are in italics.

 

Happy Flying!

 

@flyingwithfish

A few points of clarification.

1) Delta is a founding member of the SkyTeam Alliance and is the one who is sending out press releases welcoming Saudi Arabian Airlines into that alliance. In fact, Delta is excited about this partnership because it’s good for business.

Reply 1) Delta Air Lines is a founding member of the SkyTeam airline alliance, along with Air France (now Air FranceKLM) and Korean Air. As a member of SkyTeam, Delta should in fact put out a press release every time a new airline is voted into  SkyTeam and every time a new airline joins SkyTeam. Releases similar to Delta’s regarding Saudi Arabian Airlines were sent out in January from multiple SkyTeam members, as would be expected.

2) My argument (I am clear on my blog) is that Delta Airlines (which operates a hub 30 minutes from my home) is “getting into bed” with an Airline that has a policy of not allowing travelers to board without a visa from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. That Kingdom does not allow individuals with an Israeli stamp on its passport to get a visa. It also doesn’t allow Jewish people to get a visa (it asks for religion in its visa application).

Reply 2) Your argument that Delta is getting into bed with an airline that has a policy of not allowing travelers to board flights without a visa from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is severely flawed in a number of aspects. Delta is already “in bed” with two Chinese airlines, China Eastern and China Southern. Flights to the People’s Republic of China require all passengers to have a visa to board the aircraft (with the exception of passengers in transit, same as Saudi Arabia). Flights other countries, such as India for example, have the same visa requirements for passengers to be allowed to board a flight. Why have you not previously called out Delta for flying to Dubai, a nation that does not grant entry to Israeli passports (with limited exceptions)?

There are a number of countries that do not allow passengers to enter with Israeli passports, due to political reasons. Why are you not calling out US Airways who flies codeshare routes with Qatar Airways, when Qatar does not accept Israeli passports (with limited exceptions). US Airways is also partnered with Air China and soon to be Air India, both airlines that do not allow passengers to board their flights without visas.

Have you started a campaign for United Airlines to cease its non-stop flights to China and India, who require a visa for entry, subject to the approval of their governments? Why not challenge United Airlines for flying to Dubai, a nation that does not accept Israeli passports (with limited exceptions?) Why not call on United Airlines to cease its relationship with the UAE’s Emirates and Qatar’s Qatar Airways?

I can go on, but I am sure you see where I am going with this.

3) Are there Jews who have traveled to Saudi Arabia on business? Yes. They make exceptions for businessmen who are doing work there — it benefits the Kingdom.

Reply 3) The only visas granted for Saudi Arabia are : Business; Diplomatic & Official; Employment; Extension of Exit or Re-Entry; Family; Government; Residence; Student; Transit (longer than 18 hours or exiting airport) ; Temporary Work; Hajj; Umrah; Newborn Saudi Resident … so what Visa are you suggesting people apply for?

Of course the Saudi government allows business visas to Jews when it benefits The Kingdom. That is how business works.

4) Saudi Arabia does ask for religion on its 18 hour transit visa app, and they explicitly stated years ago that they ban “Jewish people.” They removed it from their website after criticism.

Reply 4) Saudi Arabia requires no visa for passengers in transit via Saudi Arabia, staying in Saudi Arabia for 18 hours or less, who are not exiting the airport. Given that there is no visa for in-transit passengers, there is no visa application Your information regarding transit visas is entirely incorrect.

5) Here’s a link to Kathy Johnston’s letter (representing Delta Customer Service). If you think I misquoted Ms. Johnston’s letter, just read the letter in its entirety here: http://www.wnd.com/images/misc/062211grandy2.jpg

Reply 5) Your copy of Ms. Johnston’s letter affirms my statement that a portion of quotes in your article contain statements added by you, that appear to be official statements from Delta. This is both unethical and misleading to those reading your article.

6) Just because other airlines have a similar policy doesn’t make it right.

Reply 6) These policies are not airline policies, they are international travel policies. Each nation has the right to impose their own policies and in fact the United States has very stringent visa policies for many foreign nationalities around the world seeking to enter the United States

To take this argument one step further, Israel has a policy of denying entry at its borders from foreign visitors who say they are visiting the Palestinian Authority. Israel’s policy violates international law as it is in direct violation of the 1995 Oslo II Accord. This Israeli policy impacts U.S. citizens traveling in Israel and has resulted in some from flying home on their scheduled El Al flights.

7) Even if Delta doesn’t actually fly to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, they give Sky Miles to an airline that does. That’s a partnership.

Reply 7) Delta has a partnership with Saudi Arabian Airlines once the airline joins SkyTeam. Saudia is in the process of being privatized, and once it is it will still be subject to the international customs and immigrations of laws its home nation and each nation it serves upon arrival in those nations.


 

Comments

  1. And before the next person claims apologist, you might want to read a few independent articles also. Unless it’s easier to believe such?

  2. To paraphrase the noted philosopher Lisa Simpson: “it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to write a stupid blog entry and confirm it”. Well done for debunking this idiocy so clearly – it’s amazing how the person that shouts loudest often wins, even if the thing they are shouting is nonsense.

  3. I sent this email to him:

    Good Day,

    I’m Max Jones, a 14-year-old journalist from Toronto, Canada.

    As you know, your Huffington Post blog post entitled ‘Delta Adopts Saudi Arabian Airlines’ No Jew Policy’ has been very controversial in the aviation industry & the journalism world.

    As I am also an avid aviation enthusiast, and have flown over 1 million miles in the past few years, which is why I am writing you today.
    I don’t want this to be like all of the other boring complaint/compliment emails that you’ve been receiving, I want to tell you my opinion on the subject from a personal & professional perspective.

    Delta sends out a press release stating that they are happy an airline is joining their alliance every time one does. Infact, I am on their press contacts list. Your right, it does help their business, just as partnering with any airline would.

    Delta has never operated flights into or out of Saudi Arabia & was planning an interline agreement with them to fly passengers to New York or Washington, where they would then board a Saudi Air flight. Delta representatives would not do anything special for these passenger, which I can tell you for sure, as they hardly do anything special for their Medallion fliers.

    The facts are that it’s the Saudi Government’s fault that there are no visas handed out to Israeli citizens. That a mistake on their part & we need to get them caught up to modern day society in areas like that & women’s rights. Why blame Delta for this?

    Another fact is that Saudi Air really doesn’t care weather your Jewish or not, they just want your money. It’s the Saudi government that has the time warp problem. This is why airlines like Delta would not object to Saudi Air joining SkyTeam.

    I’ve visited war zones, North Korea and many other countries that require a visa. Why not attack United Airlines for interlining with Air China to go to North Korea, therefore discriminating against Americans, People of the Jewish faith & South Koreans?

    Delta is no special airline in this area, which still does note excuse it from partnering with Saudi Air.

    It’s people like you who are hurting both the journalism & aviation industries single handedly. The misinformation (rather your ignorance of other information) in your article is horrendous and I invite you to fix it.

    I am not bias towards any religion, and infact have practiced almost every one that you can roll off of your tongue at one time or another, just to see what it was like. Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, upon others are some that I have experience with. Through these experiences, it was difficult to choose just one faith and claim it as mine. I consider myself a very open minded person. The one thing I do know, is that a god exists, and I don’t think that god would be very happy
    with the way that you are misinforming your readers.

    This is not meant to be a return attack email. I felt very compelled to respond to your claims & I hope that you have taken the time to review mine.
    I have a few questions for you below, as I’m very curious as to what your answers will be.

    Many thanks for looking over my whole email.
    I have learned to appreciate the many perspectives of people in the world & I hope that you have/can too.

    Questions:
    What makes Saudi Air joining SkyTeam especially troubling when it comes to Delta having a hub at Detroit Airport?
    Why are you attacking Delta for the actions of the Saudi government?

  4. (sorry that I also posted this on the previous story today)

    Religion News Service, the original publisher of the article, has since retracted the article (USA Today and other MSM have already done so).

    Here is their comment:

    RELIGION NEWS SERVICE EDITOR’S NOTE:

    The RNS story on Delta Air Lines’ pending partnership with Saudi Arabian Airlines that was distributed on June 23 contained incomplete information about Saudi visa policies and U.S. Jews’ ability to fly Delta flights to Saudi Arabia. The story was not fully edited according to RNS standards:

    – While Saudi Arabia does not issue visas to citizens carrying Israeli passports, Saudi officials say an Israeli stamp in a U.S. passport is not a barrier to entry, even for a stop in transit.

    – While Saudi Arabia does not allow non-Islamic religious articles within its borders, religious identity and a passenger’s religious articles are not barriers to flights on either Delta or Saudi Arabian Airlines flights.

    – Airline alliance programs typically allow passengers on one airline to book tickets on another, or redeem frequent flyer points on partner airlines. On Friday, Delta said such “code-sharing” agreements will not be part of its alliance with Saudi Arabian Airlines, nor will Delta passengers be able to redeem Delta frequent flyer miles on the Saudi airline.

    RNS takes very seriously its commitment to accuracy, balance and thorough reporting, and the June 23 story failed to meet those expectations. Steps are being taken to correct and improve our internal editing process. We regret that the story was transmitted with incomplete information, as well as any unintended implication that Delta would be adopting policies of the Saudi government.

  5. Rabbi Jason Miller also tweeted me today saying he was working on responding to this situation on his blog.

    I asked him back: “Will your blog be filled with an apology and facts, or just unsupported inflammatory lies this time? You owe your readers better”

    I’ll let you know if he responds.

  6. A couple of points because while you do try to answer the Rabbi, you really aren’t all that convincing to the real world [outside of those that would believe you no matter what you write]

    Point 1: So what that the Rabbi only mentions that Delta is a founding member of SkyTeam? As far as I can tell, there is nothing in the Rabbi’s statement that is incorrect. Your attack here seems to simply be a way to bolster your later attacks by implying that the Rabbi’s comments are untruthful.

    Point 2: Same as with Pint1 – Nothing in the Rabbi’s statement appears to be untrue. You fight the strawman here. Setting up and knocking down US and UA as carriers associated with countries that have discriminatory policies towards Jews and/or Israelis. And then complaining that the Rabbi also does not the same. You also set up and knock down China and India as places where visas are needed. But while China and India require visas [as do many other countries], neither prevents people from entering because they have an Israeli immigration stamp. Further, you could go on and we can see where it was going but it still did not refute what the Rabbi stated. All you added was that other American carriers have relationships with countries that also bar Jews from entry and that certain countries require visas.

    Point 3: There are no tourist visas for the Saudi Arabia. So? Business is how the Kingdom works? Based on your extensive knowledge of the economics of Saudi Arabia [see, that is a strawman argument, I built up your alleged facts about the Kingdom and knocked that down rather than addressing your point]. Back on topic, I’d address your point but I can’t see it. You threw a bunch of visa types and stated business is business.

    Point 4: Since I have not traveled to nor do I believe that I would ever want to travel to Saudi Arabia, ie I have not researched this matter, I do not know whether this information is correct – BUT – it comes straight from the website flyingwithfish links to:

    A completed application form filled-out with a black ink pen or printed. Application forms can be downloaded from the website at http://www.saudiembassy.net/. Please include your email address on the application.

    Sure looks like an application is needed for a transit visa aka someone in Saudi Arabia for 18 hours. And to be technically accurate here, The Rabbi speaks of 18 hours in Saudi Arabia. flyingwithfish’s hyperlink statement recites 18 hours or less. The Saudi Embassy website states “Travelers transiting in Saudi Arabia for less than eighteen (18) hours do not need a transit visa.” [same link]. Thus the Rabbi’s statement is actually correct whereas Fish is the one who is mistaken. Further, The fact that the Saudi’s really did list that Jews were banned on the embassy website is not addressed.

    One further note, and this caught my eye because I am sometimes at a loss for some folks selective reading ability [from the same embassy link]
    “Ladies cannot apply for a transit visa if not accompanied by a male relative.” Fresh signs of that liberal democracy we know and love as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia [which by the way is ruled by an absolute monarchy – for those that did not know]. That last comment is similar to flyingwithfish’s reply to Point 1 where extra facts are gratuitously thrown into the mix to turn the masses to one side via visceral churnings rather than through an elegantly worded retort.

    Point 5: I’d like to reply here but your letter jpg hyperlink is back to the Saudi embassy site. Fix it and I will comment.

    Point 6: Not sure where to start here but I will go with Oslo II. Oslo II is not international law. First off, as your own comment correctly notes, each country can do what it wants and thus there is no such thing as international law. There are treaties, and agreements, resolutions and an assortment of other deals, but there is no such thing as international law. Second, you go back to your strawman act. Building up Oslo or that the US has “stringent” visa policies and then knocking them down without addressing the Rabbi’s comment. The fact that US or UA have or had deals with other airlines whose countries discriminate against Jews does not excuse Delta and the admission of SV to SkyTeam. Further, you speak of the Israeli policies for gaining entry – amazing how you miss the fact that the Israelis allow folks from such glorious organizations such as ISM or “reporters” al jazeera entry into their country. Those are liberal standards – not oppressive such as those of Saudi Arabia.

    Point 7: The Rabbi is correct. Admit it. His piece was speaking about admitting SV to SkyTeam. Once SV is a SkyTeam member, it will be in partnership with DL. You should have let this one go. The verbiage about privatization is wholly and completely unrelated to the comment you quoted.

    Cheers [and please excuse any typos]

  7. Very interesting that DL has come out to say that members will not be able to redeem SkyMiles on Saudia flights. Is there any precedent for this in any of the airline alliances? I would think that the alliance membership agreements require the ability to redeem on flights operated by all members.

  8. If you think a Visa to enter a country is an issue, then one should look at transit visas for Germany, needed just to transit at the airport or the UK Airside Visas for certain nationalities. Visas for entry and transit are a national sovereignty issue, why blame the carrier.

  9. Any reason that you only allow the sheep to post? You can “rip” apart the Rabbi but will not post replies to such ripping?

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