January 04, 2004


Bruce Hill, a Reform Jew, recently travelled from Melbourne to Auckland on Emirates Airlines. Told beforehand by his travel agent that kosher meals would be provided, this turned out not to be the case. Bruce explains:

I was advised to contact the airline in Auckland. I did so on Monday, and was told that Emirates has a policy of refusing to accept requests for meals that meet Jewish religious requirements.

I was also told that Emirates is ďan Arab airline, so we donít really expect Jews to use usĒ.

Emirates, of course, is a major sponsor of the Collingwood football club:

I, like millions of Australians, might be considered a minor Collingwood sponsor. Over the years Iíve tipped cash into the club via memberships, raffles, donations, and simple match attendance. And I was fine with the Emirates sponsorship, until made aware of this anti-Jewish policy.

So, until the policy is revised or Collingwood ditches Emirates, no more money from me. If youíre of a like mind, contact the club and tell them what you think. And contact the Melbourne Herald Sun, too. Refer them to Bruceís Emirates piece. In football-crazed Melbourne, this deserves to become a big story.

Posted by Tim Blair at January 4, 2004 11:16 PM

The UAE is a hot-bed of fundamentalist Wahhabism.
There are only two options open to Collingwood in regard to their phobo-semitic sponsors.
Either they ditch them for philo-semitic sugar daddy.
Or they convert the whole Middle East to philo-Collingwoodism.

Posted by: Jack Strocchi at January 5, 2004 at 12:56 AM

Good on you Tim. Calling you a Collingwood fanatic would be an understatement, so your decision to boycott them over this issue is commendable.

Posted by: Robert at January 5, 2004 at 01:06 AM

Easiest decision I've ever made, Rob.

Posted by: tim at January 5, 2004 at 01:15 AM

Over here in the UK, Emirates sponsors Chelsea.

Posted by: The tapir at January 5, 2004 at 02:18 AM

I would point out that Bruce Hill was, in fact, offered a kosher meal when his meal was changed to vegetarian, though he may not have understood that. All Emirates meals are halal, and any vegetarian halal meal will meet all kosher restrictions.

It seems to me likely that the Emirates policy is not to go out of their way to prepare kosher meals with meat when they're already providing four different meals (Asian vegetarian, Jain, Vegetarian, and Vegetarian Lacto-Ovo) that meet kosher guidelines.

Now, Mr. Hill definitley ran into a combination of bigotry and miscommunications; as a charitable man I'd assume that was a problem of specific Emirates employees, and not policy at the top levels of the airline itself. But the charity doesn't cost me anything; Emirates may well be bastards. I just don't think this proves it.

Posted by: Warmongering Lunatic at January 5, 2004 at 06:52 AM

Reducing a Jew to vegetarian is NOT a sign of welcome at all; it's a slam at a paying customer!

Posted by: MommaBear at January 5, 2004 at 08:43 AM

The USA is home to both the largest Jewish population, and to customer service, but even they screw up the kosher meals.

Northwest Airlines is one offender.

"Richard Aiken, arguably the world's most experienced Orthodox traveler, cites Northwest Airlines as a frequent culprit. Aiken has flown first class out of major US cities with kosher meals confirmed, and not received them."

"The bottom line," says Richard Aiken: "Always carry food."

Posted by: Peggy Sue at January 5, 2004 at 09:11 AM

Fine. But no Northest Airlines employee ever said to Richard Aiken, "We don't serve Jewish meals."

The point is bigotry, folks. And the violation of international law.

Posted by: Meryl Yourish at January 5, 2004 at 01:12 PM

Tim, You should have been doing a little digging before now and would have reached the same conclusion but perhaps for different reasons. The silly Crikey, who I stopped reading quite awhile ago, had a go at the 'pies because of UAE's known terrorist links, to say nothing of their lack of democracy. Mayne's main objective of cause, was to attack Eddie McGuire but this shouldn't invalidate the statements. One of the worst abuses of McGuire's position has been the presentation of various UAE "princes" during half-time footy coverage on Channel 9, most notably on ANZAC day over the last few years.

Posted by: TN at January 5, 2004 at 02:01 PM

Both sides of the political fence (extremists excluded) should be able to support this.

Posted by: Stewart Kelly at January 5, 2004 at 04:29 PM

Was there not a foofaraw a couple of years back about Emirates planes providing onboard maps of the Middle East for their customers with one nation inexplicably missing?
You'll never guess which.

Posted by: kolchak at January 5, 2004 at 06:06 PM

TN -- yes, I remember that Crikey thing. At the time I made a distinction between the airline and the nation; it's possible, after all, to run an ethical enterprise out of a corrupt country. Business isn't government. And you're right about Crikey's motives, which, as always, were arse-headed.

But know we know about the airline itself. As Stew Kelly says, rejection of this should be universal.

Posted by: tim at January 5, 2004 at 06:24 PM

Lunatic wrote "any vegetarian halal meal will meet all kosher restrictions". No that is not true. Neither is the statement that Asian vegetarianism is the same as kosher food. Kosher food has to be supervised by a rabbi and I'll eat my yarmulke the day Emirates has them working in their business.

Posted by: Mark at January 5, 2004 at 06:45 PM

I still say we should regime change the Arab Emirates and install a pro-Collingwood government there.
Hell, the 4th ID is parked up the road, we could have Eddie McGuire installed as boss-chief Sultan, and lolling on cushions in Abu Dhabi, in a jiffy.
Raise the tone in two states and all that sort of thing.

Posted by: Jack Strocchi at January 5, 2004 at 07:10 PM

Silent running, Tom Paine's blog which is covering this has a wonderful line:
"It all starts with not eating pork chops, and before you know it, some crazed Loob is taking a flamethrower to your stove. Jewish readers will know what I'm talking about."

I really want to see the crazed Loob with the flamethrower loose in Eddie Maguire's kitchen. YES! That'll fix em.

Posted by: David Tiley at January 5, 2004 at 10:30 PM

Kosher food has to be supervised by a rabbi and I'll eat my yarmulke the day Emirates has them working in their business

Not quite -
Women (none of whom are orthodox rabbis) can make kosher food.

I'd be willing to bet that El Al is the only airline with its own kosher kitchens, and that all others buy in from approved sources.

Posted by: May Lee at January 5, 2004 at 10:36 PM

"Women (none of whom are orthodox rabbis) can make kosher food."

Yes, at home. But many observant Jews will only eat food prepared for the public (i.e., restaurant, airline, etc.) if it has kosher certification, and that has to come from a rabbi.

Posted by: Yehudit at January 6, 2004 at 06:17 PM

Of course the people here who are putting the boots into Emirates will be able to assure me that EL AL provides sponsorship to sporting clubs and not just jewish ones.

They also will be able to assure me that I can be served a Bacon sandwhich on EL AL or will I be "Forced" to eat Kosher .... of course I would expect not to be seved a Bacon sandwich on Emirates either.

This storm in yamulke has certainly woken up the Jewish lobby :-)

Posted by: Bill Edwards at January 14, 2004 at 12:15 AM