Air France in court for refusing to fly pro-Palestinian protester

(JTA) — A French pro-Palestinian activist has sued Air France for discrimination, after the airline did not allow her to fly to Israel in order to visit the Palestinian Authority last year.

New Mt. Sinai Cemetery advertisement

An attorney for Air France is scheduled to appear in court in the Paris suburb of Bobigny on Jan. 17 to respond to the lawsuit of Horia Ankour, 30, according to a report in the daily L’Indépendant.

In the lawsuit, Ankour says she was taken off a flight from Nice to Tel Aviv on April 15, as she tried to participate in the so-called flytilla – an attempt by pro-Palestinian activists from abroad to stage anti-Israel protests at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport. Her ultimate destination was Bethlehem.

A hostess asked Ankour whether she was Israeli or Jewish, according to the activist. Ankour was escorted out of the airplane after saying she was neither. 

She said 29 activists were present on the airplane. Of them, 21 were detained at the airport “at the request of the Israeli authorities,” she is quoted as saying. The rest were arrested in Israel and deported a few days later.

A spokesperson for Air France said the company was acting in compliance with the Convention on International Civil Aviation, also known as the Chicago Convention, which requires airlines to refuse to fly people who are “declared inadmissible in the country of destination.”

In total, Israeli authorities detained and deported 78 activists who participated in what they called the flytilla, a reference to the various flotillas of activists who sailed to Gaza in defiance of Israel’s naval blockade on the coastal strip.

Help us tell the Jewish story with reporting from around the world. Please donate to JTA.

Click to write a letter to the editor.