Israeli solder with Arab-sounding name accuses El Al, an Israeli airline, of discrimination
A Jewish Israeli soldier is demanding an apology from El Al Airlines, claiming he was humiliated by security staff at the Brussels airport because he has an Arab-sounding name.
In November, Asaf Abudy was on his way to board a flight back to Israel from Belgium where he had been for 5 days representing Israel in a horseback-riding competition.
Once arriving at the airport Abudy says that the was separated from the other passengers and subsequently treated rudely and with no respect. He also upholds that some of the contents of his luggage went missing as well.
Avi Abudi, the Asaf Abudy’s father, told Haaretz that he believes his son, who is Jewish, was treated so badly because of his Arab-sounding name, specifically last name.
Asaf Abudy’s lawyer, Lior Har-Zvi, wrote to the airline following the incident stating that his client had very well made it clear to airline personnel that he was an Israeli Defense Force solder who was in the middle of his army service and that he was in Belgium representing Israel in a horseback-riding competition.
The letter read:
“Our client was taken by your company’s representative to an isolated area of the Brussels airport, and during the entire time he was held in the isolated area he was prevented from using the restroom, as if he was a dangerous detainee or someone accused of a serious crime.”
The soldier said he was held in an area with two other passengers who were speaking Arabic, and that he was later led onto the plane by security personnel shortly before takeoff.
It was later, when he arrived in Israel, that he noticed that some of his riding gear was missing from his luggage.
El Al responded that, although it regrets any distress caused to the passenger, it conducts security arrangements according to procedures set by the Israeli government.
It then added that any “special scrutiny” is based on professional criteria and is not meant to offend any particular passenger.
The airline also claimed that in Abudi’s case procedure required that he be subjected to additional security measures as part of routine security sampling.