Academic Study: Middle Eastern Airlines That Omit Israel From Route Maps Appear to Be Playing to Antisemitic Prejudices of Customer Bases
Airlines that omit Israel from their route maps — as well as those that don’t offer kosher meal options — appear to do so to play to the prejudices of their customer bases, a new academic research paper reported on by The Economist this week found.
According to the study, authored by Joel Waldfogel and Paul Vaaler of the University of Minnesota, carriers that leave solely Israel off their maps — making clear it was an intentional move — include Flydubai, Kuwait Airways, Middle East Airlines, Qatar Airways and Saudia.
Israel is also not found on the maps of Emirates and Ethiad Airways, but they also do not include several other countries they do not serve, making these carriers what the authors called “plausible deniers.”
“Israel map denial is more likely for airlines with likely customers from countries exhibiting greater anti-Semitism,” the paper’s opening abstract says. “Likely owner tastes also matter: denial is more likely for state-owned airlines in countries that do not recognize Israel. Kosher meal options on online menus follow similar patterns, suggesting anti-Semitic rather than anti-Zionist motivations.”
Furthermore, according to the study, such discrimination by these companies does not deter other major international carriers from entering into codesharing alliances with them. This is because, the paper said, there are “few airline alternatives to choose from in the Middle East.”
In 2015, Kuwait Airways shut down its New York-London route following a US Transportation Department demand that the airline stop illegally discriminating against Israelis through its policy of refusing to sell them tickets.