It was only 73 years ago that my Jewish mother was asked to wear a yellow star on her clothes and was forced to stand in the last car of the Paris Metro train with the other "Jews".
It was about 50 years ago when African-Americans were forced to sit at the back of the bus, drink at "colored people" water fountains or use different entrances to public places.
Thank God that we live in the "wonderful" post-modern age of tolerance when human beings are all equal under God or "mother nature" (I can't leave out atheists lest I am accused of the same crime I am about to expose). For me, it is clear that our equality (under God) is a given and should dictate our behavior as we interact with others regardless of race, creed, sex and/or origins.
So we are all equals, right? Absolutely! Except if you have to book a ticket on Saudia Airlines (the official Saudi Arabia airline), and you happen to be holding an Israeli passport. No entering the plane through a different gate and no seating in a separate section either. In fact, YOU CURRENTLY CANNOT BOOK A FLIGHT ON SAUDIA AIRLINES TO OR FROM ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD IF YOU ARE JEWISH. PERIOD!
Israel is not even on the list of countries that Saudia Airlines partners with. Just visit their site and try to book a flight from anywhere in the world to Israel and you will be looking for a long time trying to find the link in the sub-menu because it is just not there.
The question arises: Why should Israelis even care about Saudia Airlines since they most likely would never use that company? In our day and age, there are plenty of options to fly around the world without being forced to use one particular airline, so why the big fuss?
Well if this is your only issue, I think that you might be missing the point.
IT IS A MATTER OF PRINCIPLE AND NOT PRACTICALITY
Sure, it might be a while before you spot an Israeli on a Saudia flight, yet it shouldn't be because they are banned from them but because they chose another venue on their own volition.
Considering that it is a federal offense to ban anybody from flying on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex or ancestry, Saudia Airlines discrimination shouldn't be allowed and this is why I think that New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio's decision to challenge the Saudi airline is absolutely on target and is a great demonstration of righteous chutzpah.
It is interesting to note that the FAA has passed several regulations and/or restrictions against specific airlines flying to and from countries that can clearly be a threat to America's safety such as Libya, Syria, Iran. Iraq and others. Mind you, when looking at the countries on that list, we clearly see that the reason(s) for such restrictions are usually safety issues because of politically unstable governments and NEVER BECAUSE of race, color, national origin, religion, sex or ancestry.
What bothers me the most is not that Saudi Arabia doesn't let Israelis or Jews board their planes or deplane any other aircraft on their land, because frankly, I expect it from a country who so clearly hates Israel and the Jewish people. No, what bothers me is that until now, nobody really cared to say anything. Is it antisemitism on the part of Saudi Arabia? maybe! Is it antisemitism on the part of those who chose apathy instead of involvement, probably not, BUT IT GREATLY FACILITATES THE ACTIONS OF THOSE WHO ARE ANTISEMETIC!
Mr. De Blasio had enough chutzpah to call Saudi Airlines on the carpet, and frankly, those who have the most to lose are the Saudis who for many reasons still enjoy traveling to the USA. In our age of tolerance, the Saudi's policy is a slap in the face of our postmodern society. Is it the fear of the "price at the pump" that dictates America's silence or is it what I call "complacent antisemitism" or "antisemitism by proxy"? hard to say.
In the meantime, as a Jew and a follower of Yeshua of Nazareth (the Jewish Messiah who clearly teaches about the equality of all human beings), I applaud Mr. De Blasio's display of chutzpah. It remains to be seen if his desire to not compromise, based on human decency and fairness will be taken seriously. I have my doubts.