Social Media Lights Up With Criticism of ‘Racist’ Brussels Airlines for Removing Israeli Snack From In-Flight Menu
Social media platforms lit up in protest on Wednesday and Thursday after a Belgian airline removed an Israeli snack from its in-flight menu, with many urging what they called a “counter-boycott.”
One Twitter user wrote that she was “glad” to read the news of Brussels Airlines’ move before booking her trip to Israel. “I’ll never ever fly with your company,” she wrote.
Another posted a photo of a “Miles & More” frequent traveler card from partner airline Lufthansa that he sliced up:
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Home design expert and television personality Shai DeLuca-Tamasi tweeted that he had cancelled four tickets he booked through the airline for a family vacation.
Many accused Brussels Airlines of hypocrisy, antisemitism and discrimination.
A Twitter user who identified himself as an “Arab living in Europe” slammed the “vile antisemitic act,” expressing “total shock” that Brussels Airlines was the one committing it.
Eugene Kontorovich, an expert on constitutional and international law, hit back at reports that the airline removed the halva bar because it is produced in the “occupied West Bank,” by calling attention to the behavior of Brussels Airlines’ shareholder ING Nederland:
— Eugene Kontorovich (@EVKontorovich) August 24, 2016
He later issued a correction that “it is halva not hummus.”
Sarcastically responding to the company’s defense that the move was initiated because it is an airline “catering to a large international audience [and] it’s our responsibility to offer products that please all,” Israel advocacy group Sussex Friends of Israel wrote:
Overnight, a “Boycott Brussels Airlines” Facebook page was created, calling on “Jews and Christian Zionists [who] love Israel” to stand up in defense of the Jewish state. “If Brussels Airlines boycotts Israeli products, we will not fly Brussels Airlines,” a description on the page reads.
Users flooded the Brussels Airlines Facebook page, with comments slamming the airline’s “stupid decision,” with some characterizing the company as “scumbag racists” who “discriminate against Israelis and Jews.”
One user branded the company’s decision as a form of “new antisemitism,” while another said he “will not fly Brussels again until they take a clear stance to disassociate themselves from hate groups like BDS. Leave politics out of airline meals!”
One post called the airline an “apartheid company” and compared its policies to those of the Nazi regime.
Another post threatened that the company’s “attempt to demonize Israel will not go unpunished,” adding that its boycott is hypocritical, since the airline most likely uses Israeli-made technology in its systems.
As reported by The Algemeiner on Wednesday, Belgium’s national carrier made the decision to remove the halva snack from its menu offerings because it is made in the Barkan Industrial Zone near Ariel in the Samaria region of the West Bank.
According to reports, an anti-Israel organization was notified of the presence of the product by a passenger flying between Tel Aviv and Brussels, and subsequently pressured the airline to remove the snack.
In a statement, Brussels Airlines called the origin of the halva “controversial,” saying it was added to the menu without approval from the airline by a local catering company. “We have stopped serving that product on our flights, as it was not what we had ordered, it was a mistake by our supplier,” the airline wrote on Twitter.
Following intense backlash, the airline later issued a longer statement, saying it was not engaging in a boycott of Israel.
“Brussels Airlines has been flying to Israel for 13 years, and we have never ceased to do so, not even during the conflict of two years ago (only one flight cancelled during that period),” the statement read. “It is our only destination in the Middle East and it was the fastest growing airline in Israel last year (+40 percent passengers). We are there to stay, and we offer many Israeli products on board our flights, which we choose sovereignly. We do not mix in political discussions and stay neutral.”
Firing back at the airline, Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Levin issued sharp criticism, saying the “invalid decision… places a black flag of shame on the tails of the company’s planes,” adding, “Such a company has no place in the skies of the state of Israel and its name should be erased from the flight billboard at Ben-Gurion Airport.”