Delta Airlines addition of Saudi Arabian Airlines to their SkyTeam network has sent ripples through the internet community. Emails flew and blogs exploded with stories of how Delta, now that it is a partner with Saudi Air, will, according to information reported on The Huffington Post, that, “Jews and Israelis, or passengers carrying any non-Islamic article of faith, will not be able to fly code-share flights from the U.S. to Saudi Arabia under Delta Air Line’s new partnership with Saudi Arabian Airlines that is set to begin in 2012.”
Delta did not help the situation by making a statement that was nebulous at best. “Delta does not discriminate, nor do we condone discrimination against any protected class of passenger in regards to age, race, nationality, religion, or gender. Delta must also comply with all applicable laws in every country it serves. If a passenger travels without proper documents, the passenger may be denied entry into that country and our airline may be fined.”
But as is the history of most internet stories this one continued to grow, Delta and Saudi Arabia continue to get slammed by numerous religious organizations. As is with most of these internet “Breaking News” stories the truth lies somewhere in the middle. This “Rush to Judgment” has forced one internet news service, the RNS (Religious News Service) to print a retraction to its original article and to apologize for posting it without getting all the facts.
“The RNS story on Delta Air Lines’ pending partnership with Saudi Arabian Airlines that was distributed on June 23 contained incomplete information about Saudi visa policies and U.S. Jews’ ability to fly Delta flights to Saudi Arabia. The story was not fully edited according to RNS standards:
-While Saudi Arabia does not issue visas to citizens carrying Israeli passports, Saudi officials say an Israeli stamp in a U.S. passport is not a barrier to entry, even for a stop in transit.
-While Saudi Arabia does not allow non-Islamic religious articles within its borders, religious identity and a passenger’s religious articles are not barriers to flights on either Delta or Saudi Arabian Airlines flights.
-Airline alliance programs typically allow passengers on one airline to book tickets on another, or redeem frequent flyer points on partner airlines. On Friday, Delta said such “code-sharing” agreements will not be part of its alliance with Saudi Arabian Airlines, nor will Delta passengers be able to redeem Delta frequent flyer miles on the Saudi airline.
RNS takes very seriously its commitment to accuracy, balance and thorough reporting, and the June 23 story failed to meet those expectations. Steps are being taken to correct and improve our internal editing process. We regret that the story was transmitted with incomplete information, as well as any unintended implication that Delta would be adopting policies of the Saudi government.”
I printed their retraction to illustrate how we all need to be very careful about what we forward in our emails or post on peoples walls. It is important that facts be checked before we go off on a crusade against someone or something.
Since the story broke several weeks ago numerous statements have been released that shed more light on this subject. A statement released by the Saudi embassy states as follows, “Rumors being circulated via the Internet regarding passenger flight restrictions on Saudi Arabian Airlines are completely false. The government of Saudi Arabia does not deny visas to U.S. citizens based on their religion.”
Saudi officials told CNN that the kingdom does not grant visas to holders of Israeli passports because it does not recognize Israel, and will not deny entry visas to Americans simply because of an Israeli stamp on a U.S. passport.
In a statement on Thursday, Delta indicated its agreement with the Saudi airline would be limited: no selling Delta seats on a different airline, or other reciprocal benefit like sharing frequent flier miles.
So where does this leave Delta? At worst in a Public Relations nightmare that will take forever to fix if at all; At best wishing they had never entered into the partnership with Saudi Arabian Airlines. But the deeper question here is should the United States be aligning itself with Saudi Arabia, a country that rules it’s people with an iron fist; who shows no tolerance for religious freedom, woman’s rights, or any other rights for that matter and who has been caught several times funneling money to known terrorist organizations. As mentioned in their own statement listed above…they don’t even recognize Israel.
Though this story is basically about Delta Airlines it also highlights our failing foreign policy. A foreign policy that, over the years, has seen us allied with murderous dictators, corrupt monarchies and psychopathic regimes that in more instances than not only aligned with us to serve their own interests. And that usually means Foreign Aid money.
So have we learned from our past mistakes? Yeah right. Just look at who we consider our allies today. Pakistan, who takes the money we give them in Foreign Aid and turns it over to the terrorists they support; Afghanistan, they’re more corrupt than Pakistan, Saudi Arabia as mentioned above….and the list goes on.
And this problem cannot solely be blamed on the Democrats but the Republicans as well. In fact the roots of our present day Foreign Policy can go back as far as the turn of the 20th century and spans every President in office since then.
We need to start basing our Foreign Policy on what’s best for the American people and let the rest of the world worry about itself. Isolationistic? Not really IF we base our policy on helping only those allies that in turn would, if they could, help us. Will we ever see that happen? Probably not because it is easier to simply go on as we have been doing for over a century and after all isn’t that what politics is all about, “Taking the easy way out.”