Israel’s omission from airline route maps

by on February 23, 2017 at 2:54 pm in Current Affairs, Political Science, Travel | Permalink

That is the subject of a new paper by Joel Waldfogel and Paul M. Vaaler, here is the abstract:

While product differentiation is generally benign, it can be employed to discriminate against customer groups, either to enhance profitability by appealing to discriminatory customers or in unprofitable ways that indulge owners’ tastes for discrimination. We explore discriminatory product differentiation in the airline market through airlines’ depiction of Israel on their online route maps and whether their online menus include kosher meal options. We first show that several international airlines omit Israel from their online route maps. Three of these airlines are members of the major international airline alliances. With data on over 100 airlines, we then document that Israel map denial is more likely for airlines with passengers from countries exhibiting greater anti-Semitism. Owner tastes also matter: denial is more likely for state-owned airlines in countries that do not recognize Israel. Kosher meal options on online menus follow similar patterns, suggesting anti-Semitic rather than anti-Zionist motivations. Israel denial does not reduce the probability of alliance membership with alliance leaders having few airline alternatives to choose from in the Middle East.

For the pointer I thank the excellent Kevin Lewis.

1 Milo Fan February 23, 2017 at 3:04 pm

LOL. Can’t be that there aren’t many Jews living in Iraq.

2 Troll me February 23, 2017 at 5:19 pm

For some reason the Jews in Iraq left for “the Holy Land” after the Zionist project achieved actualization through UN recognition.

Do you think Israel becoming a state might be related to a bunch of Jews going to Israel?

3 Elan February 23, 2017 at 6:01 pm

About one third of Baghdad was Jewish in the 1930s. What emptied the community out wasn’t the declaration of statehood in Israel or UN recognition, but oppression of the Jews by nationalist Arabs:

4 Troll me February 23, 2017 at 6:36 pm

Thanks for the link. I’m too poorly read on the matter to stake strong ground, except on the fact that a pull factor existed.

5 Troll me February 23, 2017 at 6:44 pm

How do you think treatment of Hispanics would progress if an activist political movement with allies dispersed throughout the world was, say, openly planning with many other world powers to occupy Mount Rushmore and transform it into an Hispanic homeland?

I suspect such political activism would significantly decrease the quality of life of Hispanics living in the USA, as a direct result of additional negative treatment towards them. Due to the initial political activism.

No one deserved what happened next.

What happened first happened first.

And yes, there was anti-Semitism before that. The sort of racism that allowed them to be the only minority that was not crushed to dirt, forced conversion by the sword and all, about 1000 years previous. All other minorities might have begged to suffer under such racism.

Worst blowback in history? Maybe.

6 Cliff February 23, 2017 at 7:29 pm

It would be a better analogy if Mt. Rushmore were built by the Hispanics and was in their historic homeland, and the population there was super small, and it was owned by Germany, and the Hispanics were moving there peacefully and legally.

7 Hmm... February 23, 2017 at 8:25 pm

Took you all of eight minutes to go from poorly read to aggressive expert.

8 Miguel Madeira February 24, 2017 at 5:38 am

Troll Me: “And yes, there was anti-Semitism before that. The sort of racism that allowed them to be the only minority that was not crushed to dirt, forced conversion by the sword and all, about 1000 years previous. All other minorities might have begged to suffer under such racism.”

There was (and are) also Christians, Mandeans, Yazidis and Shabaks (it is not clear if the last count as “Muslims”) in Iraq.

9 Miguel Madeira February 24, 2017 at 6:05 am

“It would be a better analogy if Mt. Rushmore were built by the Hispanics and was in their historic homeland”

Like, perhaps, Los Angeles/San Francisco/Las Vegas/Dallas/Maricopa (all in hispanic historic homeland)?

“and the population there was super small”

In 1945, the arab population in the “British Mandate of Palestine” was about 1,200,000 people; for an area of 28,092 Km2, this mean a density of 42 people by Km2, much higher than the 14/Km2 of Pennington County, South Dakota, where Mt Rushmoore is located(it is also higher than the population density of Arizona – 22/Km2 -, Colorado – 19.9/km2 -, Nevada – 10.3/km2 – and Utah – 14.34/km2 – to talk only about former hispanic homelands)

“and it was owned by Germany”

A League of Nation mandate is not “ownership”, it is more as a legal tutor managing the properties of an underage orphan until he turns 18.

“and the Hispanics were moving there peacefully and legally.”

After 1933, most Jewish immigration for Palestine was illegal (the so-called “Aliyah Bet – Immigration B”)

10 Troll me February 24, 2017 at 10:33 pm

On what basis are historically accurate analogies “aggressive”?

This is the sort of reason that people don’t trust Jews. Please don’t do things that make it seem so naturally easy for people to distrust Jews.

11 Troll me February 25, 2017 at 11:37 am


That’s sort of the point, by comparison. Numerous religious minorities survived in the Middle East.

Jews were the ONLY religious minorities tolerated in Europe. Other minorities might have begged for such discrimination as to have the finance industry all to themselves.

12 AlanG February 23, 2017 at 3:17 pm

Seriously????? Anyone wishing to visit Israel certainly knows how to fly there. Most who want Kosher food are going to fly El Al as there is no question that the meals being served are Kosher. Sometimes I just wonder if economists have nothing better to do than publish junk such as this. What’s the goal here? At least no federal funding was acknowledged which is good to see as it reinforces my belief that grants agencies tend not to fund junk research.

13 Some more information February 23, 2017 at 3:44 pm

You are mistaken if you think that religious Jews only fly to Israel on El Al. They shop around just like everyone else. And they fly to many other countries where they would need kosher food. And increasingly that includes the Pacific Rim.

I don’t know why you think the subject is not relevant. It concerns discrimination – something highly relevant in economics, particularly behavioural economics. Israel in many respects is similar to Taiwan. It is shorn of its legitimacy by lots of small humiliations. It can’t participate in its own regional group at the Olympics. It’s passport holders are discriminated against when they seek to travel. Recently a school in Canada sought to ban all those who were Israeli citizens.

14 cliff arroyo February 23, 2017 at 3:57 pm

” they would need kosher food”

They want kosher food, not the same as ‘need’ at all.

15 Cliff February 23, 2017 at 7:33 pm

You want air to breathe, not the same as ‘need’ at all

16 So Much For Subtlety February 23, 2017 at 5:42 pm

This is a complex topic, but this point about discrimination is important. They cite the refusal to serve kosher food as evidence of anti-semitism. Which it may be. On the other hand, most Jews strongly identify with Israel. They may well prefer not to fly airlines associated with anti-Zionist countries. Sensibly, really. Which in turn means that there would be limited demand for kosher food on such airlines. Why cater for customers you do not get? It is not automatically evidence of anti-semitism

It is even more complex because there are Jews who reject the State of Israel. Satmars for instance. They will not fly El-Al. They may prefer to fly in anti-Zionist planes. Then again they might not. That would be evidence of anti-semitism.

17 AlanG February 23, 2017 at 5:42 pm

I have direct family who have lived in Israel for years and regularly fly there. Just because a small number of airlines leave Israel off the map is no big deal to me and I don’t look it as any kind of discrimination at all. It’s just plain foolishness. Regarding sport, Israel plays in both of the Euro soccer and basketball leagues (the two most popular sports). In pop culture, Israel does well in the Eurovision contests. I don’t get the point you make about “its own regional group at the Olympics.”

18 So Much For Subtlety February 23, 2017 at 6:06 pm

You are putting Israel in the wrong group of neighbors. I think he means it is humiliating that Israel has to compete in European leagues and not in Middle Eastern ones. That it is outrageous that Israel cannot compete with Haifa Wehbe or Nancy Agram but has to send its transsexuals to compete in the Eurotrash competition.

Which I am a little bit sympathetic to. Ms Webhe might be a Hezbollah-loving nut case (what is going to happen to her career if they come to power?) but she is vastly more talented than any singer in the Eurovision since Abba.

19 Some more information February 23, 2017 at 7:06 pm

I misspoke. I meant to refer to FIFA. There are six regional FIFA organizations. They each play qualifying games to determine which teams will play in the World Cup. The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) was founded in 1954 and Israel was one of its founding members. In 1974, Israel was excluded from AFC competitions, as a result of a proposal by Kuwait.

After 20 years of not being part of any regional federation it was allowed to join UEFA in 1994.

In the Rio Olympics the head of the Lebanese Olympic delegation blocked Israeli athletes from entering a bus that the teams were supposed to share to reach the opening ceremony. In June 2016, Syrian boxer Ala Ghasoun refused to participate in an Olympic qualifying match against an Israeli.

Later at the Rio Olympics Islam El Shehaby, an Egyptian judo competitor, turned his back on the outstretched hand of his opponent, Or Sasson, after the Israeli athlete’s victory in a bout that earned him the bronze medal.

In 2009, the United Arab Emirates denied Israeli tennis star Shahar Pe’er an entry visa, forcing her to pull out of that year’s Tennis Championship in Dubai.

20 tjamesjones February 24, 2017 at 9:13 am

Better to say “I miswrote”. Or even better, good old anglo-saxon, “I made a mistake”.

21 Miguel Madeira February 23, 2017 at 3:19 pm

” Owner tastes also matter: denial is more likely for state-owned airlines in countries that do not recognize Israel. Kosher meal options on online menus follow similar patterns, suggesting anti-Semitic rather than anti-Zionist motivations.”

But there is any significant difference between kosher food and halal food (I imagine that many countries who does not recognize Israel have halal meals in the airplanes)?

22 Some more information February 23, 2017 at 3:55 pm

Kosher food and halal food are distinct in the sense that what is halal is not necessarily kosher but what is kosher is halal. Making sure food is kosher is rather complicated and involves a lot more than how the meat is slaughtered.

A huge additional part of what constitutes kosher food is making sure meat and milk derived products and not served together on the same dish. Similarly a food product that contains meat and milk derived products such as meat with a cream sauce would not be kosher.

The definition of kosher food is so stringent that even the cookware for milk and meat derived products must be different.

23 So Much For Subtlety February 23, 2017 at 6:00 pm

The cookware rule is relatively recent though and mainly an Orthodox thing. Classical rabbis allowed Jews to eat a meat dish with a small amount of milk in it as long as the small amount was really small. There is even a language to describe how small that was.

24 Some more information February 23, 2017 at 7:15 pm

I’m not sure where you get the idea that separate dishware is if recent vintage. It goes back to the Talmud. And only Orthodox Jews require kosher food to begin with. Other branches of Judaism depreciated the concept of kosher food. The concept of a small amount of milk under certain circumstances not causing a kosher dish to become nonkosher is still very much a part of Orthodox Judaism.

25 Cliff February 23, 2017 at 4:04 pm

Well, a rabbi is not certifying it, so religious Jews can’t eat it. Otherwise, not too much difference.

26 Troll me February 23, 2017 at 5:21 pm

One is certified by a rabbi, another certified by an imam.

Some people will try to convince you otherwise. They are either justifying a kocher premium price that they pay or demand, or are simply unwilling to admit that Jewish and Islamic cultural specifications (if not practices) are nearly identical.

27 So Much For Subtlety February 23, 2017 at 5:46 pm

Muhammed did not live near the sea. He did not, therefore, bother to specify what types of seafood were halal and what were not. No point. Jews did live near the sea. Their rules do cover seafood.

Thus there is a whole world of halal food that is not kosher.

28 Donald Pretari February 23, 2017 at 6:28 pm

Anyone who has the knowledge and can see for himself how something is produced can determine whether the food is kosher. Saying people don’t need to eat kosher leaves out the point that G-d has commanded them to do so in their opinion. It’s not like the Atkins Diet.

29 So Much For Subtlety February 23, 2017 at 6:53 pm

I am not sure why that is a reply to me, but I am also not sure it is true. Depending on what you mean by “how something is produced”. Because kosher clearly exists at many levels. I am sure a lot of Jews don’t care and will happily eat at McDonald’s. But some might care a bit and so they won’t have the bacon roll. Some might care a bit more and so they won’t have a cheeseburger. Some might care a bit more and insist on inspecting all the labels on the ketchup. And some will care a lot and just won’t eat there.

All of them might describe what they are doing as observing kosher. It operates as a spectrum.

It is also true that the Little Sisters of the Poor think that God told them not to kill babies as well. But the Democrats had no problems forcing them to do so, or at least pay for it.

30 Troll me February 23, 2017 at 6:37 pm

I did not know that halal included seafood banned under kosher rules. Your concise explanation also makes a lot of sense.

31 Donald Pretari February 24, 2017 at 1:13 am

So Much…I can determine if something is kosher if I can see how the food is being prepared. I don’t need a Rabbi. After all, if I keep kosher at home, I don’t have a Rabbi around, nor does the Rabbi know anything more about kashrut than I do. Why would he?

Having a hechsher is a convenience provided by a product since the average consumer can’t check the product for themself. So they hire someone to come to the plant and see how the product is being produced. The person hired then determines if the product is kosher, and then the product can put a kosher sign on it labled ruled kosher by Don.

Now comes the fun part. Although it shouldn’t be that hard to determine if a product is kosher, many people only trust certain other people to do the job right. Consequently, having a hechsher does not mean everyone will trust it. Some people won’t trust any hechsher figuring the product producers are not reliable one they’re left alone.

Although there are some differences between groups, most Jews can agree what the rules of kashrut are, the difference being among individuals who choose how observant they want to be. Thankfully, many people are more understanding than you about telling people to just drop the sin thing about eating.

32 AlanG February 23, 2017 at 5:46 pm

Having been in an abattoir where cows are slaughtered for both Kosher and Halal markets, I saw first hand that the slaughter technique was only different in the type of knife that was used and the prayer that was said right before the slaughter. The technique was identical by both of the slaughters (the Halal knife was curved, the Kosher knife was straight) and the cows died in each instance. I have been at a traditional abattoir and I don’t consider any form of animal slaughter more humane than another.

33 dearieme February 24, 2017 at 4:52 am

I met a vet once who had been a government inspector covering kosher and halal slaughter in part of England. He said the main difference was that the kosher chaps were quick and skilful while the halal chaps made (as it were) a right pig’s ear of it.

34 rayward February 23, 2017 at 3:28 pm

You can’t get there from here. This reminds me of my law school classmate and friend, an African American several years older because he had been ROTC and spent several years in the Army (reaching the rank of captain) before attending law school. Like me, he grew up in the South. While I was aware of racial prejudice and discrimination, it never occurred to me the practical difficulties of being black. For example, travel. Motels and restaurants were segregated, so that made the logistics for an overnight trip very difficult – one can pack a sandwich, but not a place to sleep. Or relieve oneself. Even something as simple as reliving oneself was a challenge, as filling stations (as we called them) were segregated, or their rest rooms were, which meant reliving oneself by driving down a dirt road. And who knew what or who lurked down that dirt road. As my classmate and friend, who died many years ago, would say, you can’t get there from here.

35 Ethan Bernard February 23, 2017 at 5:39 pm

The negro motorist green book was a traveler’s guide for dealing with exactly these issues.

36 Art Deco February 23, 2017 at 3:36 pm

I’m the cuck of the walk!

37 msgkings February 23, 2017 at 4:01 pm

Whreas I’m merely suffering obsessive fantasies.

38 David K February 23, 2017 at 3:42 pm

“denial is more likely for state-owned airlines in countries that do not recognize Israel”

That’s not surprising at all, is it? You’d expect the map to follow the airline’s state’s recognition list even if it weren’t state-owned. I’d think it was kind of weird as an American if on United’s route map I saw Abkhazia, too.

39 Turkey Vulture February 23, 2017 at 3:52 pm

This seems like a good point to me.

40 dearieme February 24, 2017 at 4:54 am

You think we’re so innocent?

41 Joseph Ward February 23, 2017 at 5:06 pm

Joel Waldfogel has such an interesting array of topics that he writes about.

42 Troll me February 23, 2017 at 5:17 pm

1947 borders, 1948 borders or 1967 borders?

Maybe just easier to “wipe it off the map” for convenience, in this specific isolated kind of case (I’m specifically not saying the coutnry should be nuked, which would be a really bad thing and no one should do that. But “wiping Israel off the map” may indeed be very practical for such cases.)

43 Art Deco February 23, 2017 at 7:58 pm

There were no 1947 borders or any 1948 borders. The ‘1967 borders’ are the 1949 armistice lines.

44 Troll me February 25, 2017 at 11:38 am

Suffice to say, it’s debated.

45 Bored Economist February 23, 2017 at 5:43 pm

This paper belongs in the thrashbin… What could possibly be learned from this study?

46 AlanG February 23, 2017 at 5:47 pm

my sentiments exactly!

47 dan1111 February 24, 2017 at 2:53 am

The amount of data points needed to distinguish between several inter-related causes is definitely more than “several”…

48 y81 February 23, 2017 at 5:55 pm

Lots of food service businesses–including most New York City restaurants–don’t offer kosher food. Unless you have sufficient demand, it isn’t worth the expense. It isn’t evidence of anti-Semitism.

49 Troll me February 23, 2017 at 6:40 pm

I met a Jewish girl in Beijing who was convinced that all the spitting was specifically directed at her, and more specifically her Jewishness.

I think it’s very OK to consider this a fault. Finding the correct balance in both acknowledging the Holocaust and not allowing it to be used to justify diverse paranoias and other things … not easy.

50 dan1111 February 24, 2017 at 2:57 am

An airline business is different than a restaurant, because the meal is a small expense that enables a class of people to buy the much larger product you are selling.

For example, most restaurants don’t offer gluten-free meals, but most airlines do.

The lack of Kosher food may still be due to demand, but the bar is much lower than a restaurant in terms of what percentage of your potential customers are Jewish to make it worthwhile.

51 gbz February 23, 2017 at 6:01 pm

Had the pleasure of studying under prof.waldfogel once.. about the nicest guy ever.

re comments that the paper is useless: not to humor trolls, but are we really arguing that the clear implication that ‘discrimination can be profitable’ is not relevant? Haven’t many academics built exactly the opposite case for ages arguing capitalism roots out discrimination? Of course you can say this is sort of obvious, but certainly not in ivory towers (which does, in its own peculiar way, actually matter).

52 Aidan February 23, 2017 at 7:52 pm

I suspect that this may be more of a government regulation thing than a market one. In countries such as Lebanon maps depicting the State of Israel are illegal, so it’s not exactly as if the airlines have that much choice in the matter. It’d be interesting to see it compared to, say, how different international airlines depict the disputed sections of the India-Paksitan border.

53 Baines Howell February 23, 2017 at 8:29 pm

Can you dislike anything about Israel and not be anti-Semitic? It’s a rhetorical question.

54 Art Deco February 24, 2017 at 9:24 am

Of course you can, and Israeli’s themselves can be rudely critical of their own country.

The problem you get re Israel’s detractors: all the trouble in the world there is, and they land on Israel. What’s disagreeable about life in Israel and adjacent territories has some unusual features, but it’s not on balance all that severe on any global scale. Neither can the government of Israel do much to improve matters. You can make some incremental adjustments to security procedures, but that’s it (and almost none of Israel’s detractors have the kind of expertise necessary to suggest anything at all). There is no solution; there is merely security, and that’s perfectly obvious. As far as the bulk of the Arab population is concerned, there’s one solution, and that solution consists of their Jewish neighbors being dispossessed, expelled, and killed. Israel’s detractors would accept that, and some wish it to happen.

55 Troll me February 24, 2017 at 10:47 pm

They are very inconsiderate in groups, generally not caring whether their “excessive exuberance”, or far more likely their persistent and loud complaints about everything, all the while expecting a discount on everything …

You know, the stereotypes are all true, on average. And I think every Jew knows it.

Among confident people who do not think there’s an excuse for another Holocaust lurking around the corner, such things can be discussed very frankly, and at ease, although do not expect a meek reply.

56 Thanatos Savehn February 24, 2017 at 1:00 am

And for their next trick/paper they can use NHST to figure out why Mogadishu conquered the world 1000 years ago but Israel never even existed in games like Civilization.

I get it, btw. Whereas I grew up fappin’ to Penthouse Letters, today’s kids grew up fappin’ to Jared Diamond equality fantasies. My guess is that Millenials are more frustrated, but that other minds thingy keepsagettin’ in the way.

57 Jackson Layers February 25, 2017 at 6:47 am

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