On the Front Lines of the Culture Wars

On the Front Lines of the Culture Wars

Will Delta Airlines enforce Saudi no-Jews, no-Bibles, no-crosses rule?

Don’t plan on carrying your Bible with you if you’re flying to Saudi Arabia. It will be confiscated at the airport. So will your cross necklace and your child’s WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) bracelet.

Saudi women in the marketplace

That’s the message buried in the brouhaha surrounding the non-announcement that Delta Airlines has partnered with Saudi Arabian Airlines — just as American Airlines partners with British Airways — to provide seamless service between the two air carriers’ routes.


Delta has a long list of foreign airlines with which it cooperates — all part of Delta’s SkyTeam program.

A few days ago, a wild rumor hit the Internet that as a result of the partnership, Delta would have to impose a “no Jews” rule on its flights. Indeed, Jews and Israelis, or passengers carrying any non-Islamic article of faith, will not be able to fly Saudi Arabian Airlines flights from the U.S. to Saudi Arabia.

However, no Delta flights will fly directly to the oil-rich desert kingdom.

The Saudis will enforce their own noxious rules on their own airline. 

The ruins of one the only church buildings in Saudi Arabia -- forced to close about 100 years ago


Only Muslims are permitted in the holy city of Mecca. No Bibles are permitted in the country. Military chaplains have to remove their cross insignias from their collars. Holding a church service in Saudi Arabia is punishable by deportation for non-Saudis and possible death for Saudi citizens.

‘Saudi Arabia, which is governed by strict Islamic law, requires citizens of almost every country to obtain a visa,” reports the Religious News Service. “People who wish to enter the country must have a sponsor; women, who must be dressed according to Saudi standards of modesty, must be met at the Saudi airport by a man who will act as a chaperone.

“Saudi Arabia bans anyone with an Israeli stamp in their passport from entering the country, even in transit. Many Jews believe the kingdom has also withheld visas from travelers with Jewish-sounding names.


“Religious items such as Bibles that are not related to Islam may be confiscated at the airport.”

Yes, the policy is obnoxious.

No non-Muslims are allowed in the Saudi Arabian city of Mecca

Colby M. May, senior counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, said his office is trying to determine if the agreement runs afoul of U.S. law.


“The very idea that there is a common carrier airline service that would deny an American citizen in America access to their services because they are Jewish or have religious items such as a yarmulke, a cross or a priestly collar, is deeply disturbing,” May said.

May said he is “trying to get answers” from Delta.

“They have not responded in a way that answers the question,” he said. “Hopefully they’ll do so.”

Delta told the Religious News Service that it “does not discriminate, nor do we condone discrimination against any protected class of passenger in regards to age, race, nationality, religion, or gender.”

The airline noted it has no control over who may fly to Saudi Arabia.


“Delta must also comply with all applicable laws in every country it serves,” adding that passengers are responsible for obtaining the necessary travel documents required for entry.

“If a passenger travels without proper documents, the passenger may be denied entry into that country and our airline may be fined,” the statement said.

The Jan. 10 agreement allows Saudi Arabian Airlines to become a member of SkyTeam in 2012 after “fulfilling all membership requirements,” according to a SkyTeam statement. The Saudi airline is SkyTeam’s first member from the Middle East.

The policy has deeply angered U.S. Jewish groups, especially since Delta is an American carrier.

“Saudi Arabia, a U.S. ally, should be strongly condemned for its despicable discrimination against Jews,” said Kenneth Bandler, a spokesman for the New York-based American Jewish Committee.


“For an American company, our nation’s values should trump narrow business interests. Delta should be the first to reject Saudi airlines as a SkyTeam member.”

Dan Diker, secretary general of the World Jewish Congress, said he hoped “Delta will not be complicit with what appears to be a demonstrably anti-Semitic and racist policy by Saudi Arabian Airlines.”

However, the message is not that Delta has a new “no Jews” policy — despite the headlines and the chatter on the Internet. No, Delta has a new partner with bad manners. And, just like your mother taught you, sometimes you’ve got to re-think your friends.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Saul

    It’s hard to believe that for the sake of business, a U.S. Business has dropped principle for profits. Our U.S. Jewish citizens should be upset, but, then again, how many Israelies go to Saudi Arabia ?!? We the U.S. should have been doing this also for a long time now. Arab countries that have a foot hold over the U.S. due to business should NOT get in our Country either with “their” Islamic stuff! But, as a testiment to “OUR” way of life, Freedom will prevail. GOD Bless – Lou

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment StormeeATL

    Saul, do you really think it is hard to believe that a dropped principle for profits? That is the model of most big businesses nowadays. And as far as us doing the same thing to the Saudi Arabians, you know the politicians here will never do that because Saudi Arabians are “good” Arabs (which means we buy too much oil from them and they hold too many of our loans) – so believe me, business AND politics has everything to do with this. While I am not someone who lumps all Arabic/Muslim people in the same negative light (plenty of good Muslims just as there are plenty of bad Christians) if we are not going to tolerate contries like Iran, Iraq, Libya and Pakistan for what they do, then we should show the same intolerance towards Saudi Arabia. Even though they give the appearance of being “Westernized” they are just as if not more intolerant and abusive as the aforementioned countries (not to mention that I’m sure we all remember the nationality of most of the attackers on 9-11)

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment RAFREE

    Saudi Arabia in now way gives the appearance of being Westernized when it comes to female citizens who cannot drive, cannot go anywhere unless approved by a male relative and who are killed for “crimes” such as having been raped. Delta airlines in NO WAY should bow to any of this. Anyone going into Saudi Arabia is well aware of the rules there and can make their own choices without it being written into an American businesses policy.

    As a woman I have supported the latest “Drive” action by Saudi Woman and find their bravery laudable.

    Saudi Arabia indeed not only discriminates it kills those who break laws that are absolutely barbaric.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment TACACMS

    If the citizens of the United States of America would send a distinct message to Delta Airlines by boycotting them, these types of situations would make companies think twice about submitting to such ridiculous “laws” to make a buck. The problem is that American companies are ruled by the god of “MAMMON”. All they care about is the ALMIGHTY DOLLAR! Shame on you Delta Airlines! May your company take a downward spiral to the depths of Sheoul for even thinking the American women,those of Jewish decent, and Christians would condone this!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment barb

    I will never fly Delta again and I hope others agree with me SHAME on Delta.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Jo Hayati

    The problem is simple, If they want to be separated let them. No Muslims should be allowed on American flights.Did you know that Islam is a political system? They should be allowed to run things their way.Over there. So let Americans be Americans over here.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment TONY


  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment terry massar

    Delta Airlines should get as far away from these people as possible. Partnering with these people looks very bad for Delta. If they do partner with these people they should be boycotted. Right is right and wrong is wrong, and this would be wrong.
    Thank you.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Diane

    I will be contacting my Congressmen regarding this obvious corporate discriminatory practice and poorly veiled bigotry. I will also pledge funds to any group taking this matter to court. Delta deserves to go bankrupt for this behavior.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Karenfern

    As masochistic as it might sound, I would prefer a three day bus trip to any place where Delta is sole carrier to a quickie on Delta now that Delta has sold out the United States for a contract with the most viciously restrictive convenants in the world. Even if Delta has just agreed to serve as ticket agent for Saudi air carriers, that is suborning discrimination.

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