UPDATE: June 24, 2011: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia issued a press release today saying that the country does not deny visas to U.S. Citizens based on their religion..
Saudi Arabia, the country, does not allow Israelis or people born in Israel into its Kingdom. Only people who cite Muslim as their religion are allowed into the Saudi Arabian holy lands of Mecca and Medina. When the Saudi government first issued the tourist travel restrictions back in 2004, the list of banned travelers included Israeli passport holders or those with passports that have a Israeli arrival/departure stamps.
Saudi also banned those those who don’t abide by Saudi customs on behavior and appearance, those who appeared intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol, and Jewish people. In 2004, when the Saudi Arabian law was announced, recently ousted NY representative Anthony Weiner called on President George Bush to deny travel visas to Saudi Arabians until the Saudi government explained what appeared to be a policy of banning Jews from traveling to the Kingdom.
Even though the partnership between Delta and Saudi Arabian Airlines was announced on January 10, 2011, today the internet went viral with questions about discrimination for Delta Airlines. At the end of the day, Delta’s spokespeople came forward to announce that the company and airline doesn’t discriminate, but does comply with governmental policies of the nations’ that the airline flies into.
And while most reason that Delta is not a discriminating party or an anti-Semitic group, there is disappointment that the airline has partnered with an airline that endorses blatant anti-Antisemitism. Even though the US has been a strong ally to Saudi Arabia for dozens of generations.
There are reports of Jewish businessmen entering and exiting Saudi Arabia frequently with their visas. It is also reported that Saudi government officials sometimes withhold Israeli passports. But either way, it is the United States that has, according to some observers of the Saudi Arabian policy on Israelis and Jews, complied with discriminatory policies of Saudi Arabia’s government.
In 1951, Presidents Truman and Eisenhower agreed to the ban of Jewish people in Saudi Arabia when the US deployed American military personnel in the Kingdom. The US, although initially surprised, complied with the religious ban because it recognized Saudi Arabia as an ally. The US then promised to submit a detailed list of names and identity of persons deployed to the Kingdom. Read more at about.com.
Delta’s official statement on the incident appeared today in USA TODAY. The airline said that it is not going to change its policy. Meanwhile, Jewish groups and organizations are looking into US law to determine the constitutionality of Delta’s partnership with Saudi Arabian Airlines.