The airlines that wipe Israel of the map
ANTISEMITISM HELPS to sell airline seats, two American academics have suggested, after studying how several airlines remove Israel from their online maps.
The University of Minnesota researchers analysed airline maps and found that Saudia, Kuwait Airways and others have used maps where countries are identified by name — but Israel is left out.
For airlines, a small amount of map editing can yield a good deal of business, said one of the researchers, Paul Vaaler. “It’s repugnant morally but commercially it’s a viable strategy,” he added, suggesting that there are plenty of passengers who would be put off an airline that shows Israel on its maps.
Professor Vaaler concluded that there is also an aspect of “owner taste”, with several airlines that are majority-owned by their states seemingly reflecting the positions of their political classes.
So is this anything more a well-worn political protest against Israel? Professor Vaaler and his colleague Joel Waldfogel say yes, concluding that airlines are actually pandering to antisemitism.
They found that airlines which omit Israel tend to get the most online traffic from countries that come at the top of the Anti-Defamation League’s antisemitism index. They also found that airlines that omit Israel are also likely to omit kosher meal options from their catering menus, even if the menus offer all sorts of niche meals. The researchers suggest that “listing those kosher meal options on airline websites and other media channels may be repugnant to antisemitic likely-customers and [airline] owners.”
The academics concluded that legal challenges could help but that in the main, “discriminatory practices like those we study come when customer preferences change.”
Flight maps used by Bahrain Air and (inset) Saudia, which do not name Israel