The air­lines that wipe Is­rael of the map

The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - BY NATHAN JEFFAY

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

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