It appears that false rumors, no matter how vicious, are virtually impossible to stop once they start. Last week a Washington attorney named Jeffrey Lovitky who works for the American Center for Law and Justice and Rabbi Abraham Cooper from the Simon Wiesenthal Center set off a firestorm among the conservative blogs after they made some startling, but baseless, claims that Delta Air Lines had entered into a partnership with Saudi Arabian Airlines and that all Delta flights flying to cities in Saudi Arabia would begin to deny passage to Jews. On June 22, the highly regarded conservative web site WorldNet Daily ran this story:
Delta adopts Saudi 'no-Jew' fly policy
By Bob Unruh
Delta Air Lines' plan to add Saudi Arabian Airlines to its SkyTeam Alliance of partnering companies would require the American carrier to ban Jews and holders of Israeli passports from boarding flights from New York or Washington bound for Jeddah, prompting outraged accusations of illegal religious discrimination.
The issue, which has caught the attention of the American Center for Law and Justice already, was raised when Washington attorney Jeffrey Lovitky was perusing airline procedures for travel.
"As we learn more about the issue and facts, we are determined to ensure that American citizens do not face discrimination by airlines like Delta that are passenger code-sharing with Saudi Arabian Airlines," said Colby M. May, director and senior counsel of the ACLJ.
Read more here:
This was followed on Friday when Rabbi Abraham Cooper, who heads the Simon Wiesenthal Center, posted an Opinion on the Fox News web site purporting to be an open letter to Delta CEO Richard Anderson under the headline:
Pardon me for communicating with you this way, but you fobbed off inquiries by others to your Customer Care e-mail department. Since I represent 400,000 constituent families of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, I thought it would be more appropriate to communicate this way and let the rest of the American people in on an outrageous situation.
What would happen if a leading U.S. carrier voluntarily allows itself to be hijacked by bigots in order to open a new market? For example, what if it entered into an agreement with a foreign airline that would see to it that no blacks or Catholics or gays boarded code-shared flights destined to reach the partner’s home nation?
I think you know the answer.
Yet, that is what Delta Airlines appears to have done when your company announced plans to add Saudi Arabian Airlines to your SkyTeam Alliance. You see, under their rules, they require that Delta ban Jews and holders of Israeli passports from boarding flights from New York or Washington bound for Jeddah.
Read more here:
The rumor about the alliance between Delta Air Lines and Saudi Arabian Airlines originated with a press release that announced that the official airline of the fundamentalist Islamic government of Saudi Arabia was joining the 14 member airlines Skyteam alliance based in Amsterdam. What no one seemed to realize was the alliance between these companies was merely an Interline agreement which allows passengers to book tickets on multiple carriers, similar to the standard interline agreements American Airlines, US Airways and Alaska Airlines have with Saudi Arabian Airlines. Delta even issued a clarifying press statement to stop the rumors. No one took notice of the statement or the part that said that Delta Air Lines does NOT FLY to any city in Saudi Arabia and DOES NOT codeshare with any other airline that does. (A codeshare is when one airline buys a block of seats on another airline and places its flight designator, or "code," onto a flight operated by a different airline. The arrangement allows airlines to sell tickets on each other's flights.)
“Delta Air Lines does not discriminate nor do we condone discrimination against any of our customers in regards to age, race, nationality, religion, or gender,” Delta said in a statement Friday. “Delta does not operate service to Saudi Arabia and does not codeshare with any airline on flights to that country. Delta does not intend to codeshare or share reciprocal benefits, such as frequent flier benefits, with Saudi Arabian Airlines, which we have confirmed with SkyTeam, an Amsterdam-based 14-member global airline alliance.
“Delta’s only agreement with Saudi Arabian Airlines is a standard industry interline agreement, which allows passengers to book tickets on multiple carriers, similar to the standard interline agreements American Airlines, US Airways and Alaska Airlines have with Saudi Arabian Airlines,” the statement said. “All of the three global airline alliances – Star, which includes United Airlines; oneworld, which includes American Airlines, and SkyTeam, which includes Delta – have members that fly to Saudi Arabia and are subject to that country’s rules governing entry.”
Then the web site Atlas Shrugs, run by the ever-vigilant anti-Islamist pro-Israel author Pamela Geller, jumped into the controversy by publishing a story story on Friday, June 24th, that consisted of some screen captures from Delta's web site that advised travelers about the strict Islamic religious laws in Saudi Arabia suggesting that Delta condoned these laws. These travelers advisories are posted on other airline web sites and originate from the web site of the U.S. State Dept.
“Delta Sharia Airlines”
“While Delta Airlines obfuscates and dances around the truth (they have really perfected the art of taqiyya), their website tells the story. Go to the Delta Airlines website and look at the information listed there. Delta doesn’t just work with Saudi Airlines; they post their info on the Delta website.
Not only are Jews not welcome, but women are told to cover their arms and to wear heavy clothing, among other sharia compliant rules. Further, Muslim women are restricted from travel without a husband or immediate member of the family.”
Read more here:
Then yet another web site called Jihad Watch posted two stories about Delta Air Lines with even greater inflammatory headlines.
"Delta Airlines adds Saudi airline to partner companies, will uphold "No Jew" policy on flights to kingdom”
and quoted a comment by Rabbi Jason Miller in the liberal blog The Huffington Post that had a most inflammatory title: ""Delta Adopts Saudi Arabian Airlines' No Jew Policy,"".
Pamela Gellers's compatriot Robert Spencer runs the anti-Islamic web site called Jihad Watch. I have the utmost regard for both of these people due to the extensive coverage they provide to the spread of Islamic terrorism in America and the world. But it pains me to have to admit that while they permit opinions that disagree with them on their web sites, neither has seen fit to admit they fell for the false rumor against Delta Air Lines.
Over the weekend I posted several comments to the Jihad Watch blog along with supporting facts about the false rumor and one reader went to the trouble to write an email to Delta for a clarification. The reader posted Delta's reply:
Delta does not plan to codeshare or share Frequent Flier benefits with Saudi Arabian Airlines. Delta’s only agreement with Saudi Arabian Airlines is a standard industry interline agreement, which allows passengers to book tickets on multiple carriers, similar to the standard interline agreements that all U.S. legacy carriers have with Saudi Arabian Airlines. All of the three global airline alliances – Star, which includes United Airlines; oneworld, which includes American Airlines, and SkyTeam, which includes Delta – have members that fly to Saudi Arabia and are subject to that country’s rules governing entry.
It is important to note that visa requirements to enter any country are dictated by that nation’s government, not the airlines, and they apply to anyone entering the country regardless of whether it’s by plane, bus or train. We, like all international airlines, are required to comply with all applicable laws governing entry into every country we serve.
I even went to Delta's web site and downloaded the following map of their routes to the Middle East and you will note that none of their flights go to Saudi Arabia. In fact, Saudi Arabia isn't even mentioned. Delta has only one flight to any Muslim country and that is Dubai. Anyone can easily confirm that Delta doesn't fly to Saudi Arabia by calling their reservations office at 1-800-221-1212 and ask them. Apparently, non of these bloggers bothered to do so. Click the map for a larger view.
Finally, one major news outlet, The Associated Press, reported a story that clarified the issue. The story was carried by Yahoo News, Canada.
Delta doesn't fly to Saudi Arabia, but the Internet does; some upset over Saudi visa policies
By Joshua Freed, The Associated Press | The Canadian Press – Fri, 24 Jun, 2011
Delta Air Lines found itself with a public-relations headache after the online world lit up with talk that the airline wouldn't fly Jews to Saudi Arabia.
That's not true. Saudi Arabia decides who gets in the country and who doesn't, not the airlines. Delta doesn't even fly there. Still, by Friday, a U.S. senator wanted an investigation, Delta was professing its tolerance, and some Twitter users called for went so far as to mention a boycott.
“Saudi Arabia decides who gets in the country and who doesn't, not the airlines. Delta doesn't even fly there. Because Saudi Arabian Airlines is becoming a member of SkyTeam, Delta was singled out in reports that ran Thursday and were passed around social media. U.S. carriers already partner with other airlines that fly to Saudi Arabia, including Air France and the German airline Lufthansa.”
Now it seems that many conservative bloggers, many of whom I have respected, have succumbed to the same dilemma liberals have, they cannot admit when they made a mistake.
You should all be suspicious about the source of rumors and what may be behind them and what hidden agenda the perpetrators have. Delta is a mostly non-union company and has had numerous efforts by organized labor fail to get the workers to join them. Unions are mostly pro-Democrat and it would be well to their advantage to kill two birds with one stone if they could get a bunch of conservative bloggers to make fools of themselves spreading a false rumor. And what better way to serve Democrat's purpose than to destroy the credibility of the conservative bloggers with the 2012 elections looming in the near future.
Think about it.