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A4E letter of complaint to El Al Israel Airlines for discrimination

On 3/29/2024, we wrote an urgent complain to El Al Israel Airlines, regarding the discrimination of Dr. Areej Sabbagh-Khoury. The letter is below. We will post the official reply upon its arrival.

El Al Israeli Airlines

CC: International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO),

On behalf of Dr. Areej Sabbagh-Khoury, we hereby submit a complaint for discrimination,

political persecution, and profiling by El Al agents at Newark airport yesterday, March 28, 2024.

Dr. Sabbagh-Khoury, a senior lecturer in the Hebrew University and an Israeli citizen, was about

to board an El Al flight to Israel after completing a book speaking tour in the United States,

during which she gave talks at several top Universities including Yale, Columbia, Harvard, and

Cornell. During the security check she was questioned on political grounds, such as why her

book title included the word “Palestine”. She was then notified that she was not permitted to

board the plane with her luggage and laptop, which needed to be checked and would

subsequently be sent to Israel. After consulting with a lawyer, she agreed to leave her

belongings with El Al agents and asked for a receipt acknowledging that. Her request was

refused, and she was notified that she was not allowed to board the flight for security reasons.

This abhorrent treatment by El Al agents discriminated Dr. Sabbagh-Khoury on grounds of her

identity as a Palestinian citizen of Israel, and of political opinion, as expressed in the content of

the questions. Dr. Sabbagh-Khoury made utmost efforts to plan her trip so she would be back in

Israel for the Christian Good Friday Memorial for her late father, which she had never missed

before. El Al agents caused her humiliation and distress, delayed her trip back home to her

husband and children, religious holiday, and family memorial, forced her to spend another night

in New York and book another flight.

As an organization of Israeli academics representing 850 members, we expect El Al to correct

this wrong by flying Dr. Sabbagh-Khoury to Israel as soon as possible and offer her an apology

and compensation, which she reserves the rights to sue.

The current political climate in Israel has been detrimental to the basic rights of Palestinian

citizens of Israel. We expect El Al, which remains main airline flying in and out Israel, to serve all

passengers, and all Israelis, respectfully and equally.

We look forward to hearing back from you.


Academia for Equality Executive Board

Photo: screenshot from


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