The Coordination Forum for Countering Antisemitism

Kuwait Airways pays damages to Israeli barred from boarding Heathrow flight

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Mandy at the Kuwait Airlines desk at Heathrow
Mandy at the Kuwait Airlines desk at Heathrow

Kuwait Airways has agreed to pay substantial damages plus costs to an Israeli National who was refused a ticket on a flight from London to Bangkok on the grounds of her nationality.

Mandy Blumenthal, with the help of UK Lawyers for Israel, issued a claim against Kuwait Airways, claiming damages for racial discrimination and harassment, after she tried to buy a return ticket to Bangkok at Heathrow Airport from the Kuwait Airways desk last November.

UK Lawyers for Israel, a voluntary organisation of lawyers who support Israel, facilitated Ms Blumenthal’s claim by organising her legal representation by barristers John Bowers QC and Benjamin Gray, and David Berens of Fuglers Solicitors.

Ms Blumenthal’s encounter at the Kuwait Airways desk was filmed, and the video is available on Youtube. At first Kuwait Airways were prepared to sell her the ticket but refused once they saw her Israeli passport. The Kuwait Airways ticket clerk repeatedly explained: “Israeli passport holders are not permitted to travel on Kuwait Airways”.

Kuwait Airways has now agreed to pay Ms Blumenthal damages but has not admitted liability.

Jonathan Turner, Chief Executive of UK Lawyers for Israel, confirmed that the organisation would be willing to assist other claimants.

David Berens said: “The law is clear: direct discrimination on grounds of nationality in the provision of a service to the public is illegal. Ms Blumenthal has done a service in showing up Kuwait Airways’ illegal policy. Kuwait Airways is now legally obliged to end this policy or end its services from the UK altogether.’”

Mandy Blumenthal

Mandy Blumenthal said: “It is horrible to be singled out, to be told you are not allowed to do something because of who you are. Having someone telling me that he is following instructions, that it is a rule, a policy gave me a sinking feeling inside. In my mind it is an antisemitic policy to single out the only Jewish State to boycott.”

Brooke Goldstein, Director of The Lawfare Project, said: “It’s hard to believe that in 2018, an airline operating at Heathrow can ban passengers on no other basis than their nationality. Kuwait Airways should be made to choose: either give up your racist, anti-Semitic policy or cease operating out of Heathrow. The airline’s discriminatory policy should have no place in a free society.”

Spokesmen for Jewish Human Rights Watch said “we took the action against Kuwait airways ..because we were disgusted by the fact an airline would ban a person because of their religion and country. We salute Mandy for her bravery. There will be no no-go-zones for Jews.”