Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Kuwait Airways and the World

A few members of my family are, or have been, employees of Kuwait Airways, and as a consequence, I've been privy to some of the perks of being related to an airline employee in the past (special treatment discounted tickets, etc..), but that was a different time, and the airline world was quite a different one as well. 

Back then, Kuwait Airways 'loaned' some of their aircraft to the likes of Emirates and Gulf Air, the quality and skills of Kuwait Airways' Engineers (real engineers, not licensed mechanics, although even they were quite proficient) were neck-to-neck with the most intelligent and successful people in the industry - it was that good, and it was the '90's...before the Iraqi Occupation.

More recently, however, it's been some time since I've flown on a Kuwait Airways flight, and I intend to keep it that way for some time ahead if I can help it. The service level isn't up to standards, the in-flight services leave much to be desired, the planes aren't always of the latest models and are quite run-down (although it's safety record is quite impressive for a failing carrier with limited destinations!) and frankly, other regional carriers give me more bang for my bucks!

With that, I hope I've established the fact that I do not carry much love for the government-run carrier, or I wouldn't have allowed myself to spend my hard-earned money on other airlines.

And it's still a Government-run carrier, so it's still mismanaged!

The Kuwaiti Government - as with most Arab governments, had been part of the Arab Boycott of Israel ever since it's inception back in the 1940's, so it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone when it sticks to it's position of boycotting Israel...and it's citizens.OK, so other Arab states look away for the sake of the profits, but that an exception, and not the rule, and it's certainly not what a promise of principles should be.

The reason I'm discussing this issue - and the reason I've returned to blogging now - was that I came across this article from Forbes magazine written by Richard Behar, a celebrated journalist - along with all the bells and whistles that come with that honorific title, as outlined in his personal website; Four-time recipient of this-and-that, among the top 100 of that-and-this..you get the idea. 

The summary of the article - aside from the childish and myopic generalizations, factual errors and misconceptions that are clearly evident of a biased author (after all, he is a Jewish-American from Manhattan, and by definition an Israeli citizen under Israeli law) - was that Kuwait Airways was wrong to refuse to carry an Israeli citizen on board a flight from New York to London back in 2013 (article here). Only a man driven by bigotry and hatred would  quote a cheap tabloid in a prestigious magazine, and only a shallow man would use his prestigious position to give credence to that tabloid!

For the sake of argument, let's assume that he's right, and that Israeli citizens were unfairly mistreated by Kuwait Airways, logic would force us to then ask, "Why?". Why would an airline refuse an Israeli citizen, and going to such extremes as to drop an entire route - profitable as it was - just so that it would avoid being in this situation again?

"Jew-haters", "anti-Semitic", "racists", are all immediate and obvious responses to that question to anyone reading that article, or indeed, anyone writing about it. To be sure, it's the default conclusion of any Westerner in this day and age, especially in light of what's been happening in the Middle East and the Muslims, or more accurately, because of the Middle East and the Muslims that come from it.

It's easy to vilify Arabs for such acts, isn't it? Unfair, bigoted hatred towards an entire race of peoples by a bunch of dumb, corrupt, backward barbarians with more Oil and harem than there are grains of sand on a beach, while the enlightened and righteous Jews and Gentiles rise above them with their laws and culture and basic humanity. Cue the closing scene from "Schindler's List" here!

What's not easy is the 'real' reason Kuwait Airways, and indeed, the Kuwaiti Government, still holds onto it's Israeli Boycott, it's the real reason that Israelis - not Jews, mind you - were unwelcome on that flight back in 2013.  It's a trait that's as important as it is rare, and it's called 'Principles'.

The main goal of the Israeli Boycott was not to bankrupt the newly-established country, as Mr. Behar's sadly and inaccurately posits, but it was also to shed the light on a grave and terrible miscarriage of Justice brought about by the Superpowers of the day on an entire people. It's to show the world that such acts of tyranny and cruelty are not - and will not be - acceptable by everyone in the Middle East as a realistic fact, a desire sought by the Zionist movement ever since the establishment of Israel.

The fact that, even today, 70+ years since the Boycott, Kuwait still holds true to that responsibility tells a lot about it's integrity in keeping it's promises. The very people that Mr. Behar accused Kuwait of 'kicking out' are the very same people that Kuwait has - and still -  keeps alive their plight and struggle for justice.

...And it's not about playing nice with Jews. Hell, it's not even about Jews! 

It's about a political statement, a point of view, an opinion, and a promise. We Arabs know we cannot defeat a US-backed Israel in battle, we can't even beat their PR machine! We cannot forcibly bring back Palestine from Israeli control. It's a fact of life, it holds no ambiguity, it's a sad and bitter truth that we can only hope God would forgive us for.

What we can do is remain true to our principles as human beings, feeble and mediocre as they may be, that a terrible wrong had befallen the people of Palestine back in 1948, and not even 100 dropped flights or even the bankruptcy of the national airline would deter our desire for a fair treatment for them, and that's what's called 'sticking to one's Principles'.

We get attacked for holding these principles, by the likes of Mr. Behar and others who are merely cogs in the gigantic PR machine that seeks out and attacks would-be opposition to Israel's will. Many within the Western world are oblivious to the fact that it is Israel, and not Palestine, that shapes and kneads the politics of the Middle East. Country "A" wants advanced fighter jets from the US, Israel's activates AIPAC, it's lobby in the US congress to block, or at least, limit, the amount of high tech that that Arab country is able to purchase. 

Of course, AIPAC is just one example, with around US$55 million in annual revenue under it's belt, it's power to sway US Congressmen and Women has always been shadowing any dealings between the US and the Middle East. There are think tanks and entire newspapers dedicated to the safety and security of Israel.

Prove me wrong!!

They have their glorious heroes from Shin Beit and Mossad, who would extinguish lives and vilify entire countries in order to survive; We have our humanity to defend, our pens to fight with, and our principles to die for...and to us at least, it's that simple.

Even this article - fairer and more balanced than Mr. Behar's -  didn't shy away from the notion that it was a backward and unfair decision by not only Kuwait Airways, but the airline's owners, the Kuwaiti Government. Although it was written months before Mr. Behar's article was published (December 21, 2015 versus May 5, 2016), it's author - who is an Airline Journalist by trade, and NOT a Jew - tried to focus the blame onto the Kuwaiti Government, and not the Airline. 

One can only assume it was to prove a point, and that is to present Kuwait Airways as an 'effect' to the 'cause', which was the Boycott -  itself an effect of the 1948 end to the British Mandate of Palestine, and the establishment of Israel in it's place, and the misplacement of thousands of Arabs, all with the blessings of Colonial Britain.

In fact, in the second article, the author comments:
"Set against its full historical context, the Arab League's ongoing boycott of Israel can at least be understood - if not defended."
Now, that's an author I can identify with, someone who can look beyond simplistic story-telling, financial gains and superficial generalizations, even if he did condemn the Israeli Boycott. At least, he's made the effort to 'educate' the readers with a measure of fairness and accuracy by summarizing the actual backstory of the incident, and not simply propel them to what can only be described as a B-movie production  script glorifying the triumph of Good over Bad!

While we're on the subject of fairness and bigotry, a quick Google search can easily produce a number of instances where Arabs and non-Arabs were removed (sometimes forcibly) by the Airlines, not for carrying certain passports, but for even 'looking' or 'sounding' like Arabs and/or Muslims!

Case in point:

....and Kuwait Airways - along with the Kuwaiti Government and the Emir - are all vilified for refusing an Israeli Citizen on board a government-owned carrier? 

I say it rings true the sound of Kuwait's refusal of the way Israel was established in 1948, it expresses the Kuwaiti Government's position in the matter concerning the rights of Palestinians to live on their ancestral lands just as equally (if not more so) as the Israelis, and it reflects the opinion of Kuwait's population with regards to the financial benefits Kuwait Airways had lost as a result of stopping it's flights between New York and London.

When it comes to principles for us here in Kuwait, honor and duty towards a principle cannot be bought for 30 pieces of silver!

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