BERLIN (Reuters) - The German government should revoke landing rights for Kuwait Airways given its ban on Israeli passengers, a senior Justice Department official said on Friday, saying such discrimination was intolerable.
Christian Lange, parliamentary state secretary in the ministry, appealed to Chancellor Angela Merkel to personally advocate a ban on Kuwait Airways' operations in Germany.
A German court ruled on Thursday that the airline had the right to refuse to carry an Israeli passenger due to his nationality, a verdict that Jewish groups said condoned anti-Semitism.
Lange told Merkel in the letter that he had received countless phone calls from members of the Jewish community and from others in Israel, expressing shock about the court ruling, made just days after Germany solemnly marked the anniversary of the Nov. 9, 1938 Nazi pogroms against the Jews.
"We cannot say 'Never again' at a remembrance ceremony, but then remain silent when activists in Germany call for a boycott of Israel, or, as in this case, when an airline refuses to carry Israeli citizens," Lange said.
"Especially the German government must make clear that we reject this form of discrimination and hate, and that we stand by the side of our Israeli friends," he told the chancellor.
The Lawfare Project, the legal group that represented the plaintiff in the case, has vowed to appeal against the ruling.
"To see a Jewish person banned from exercising his freedoms in Germany in 2017 is chilling enough. To see that discrimination whitewashed and legitimized by a German judge is grotesque," said the group's executive director, Brooke Goldstein.
Deputy German Foreign Minister Michael Roth also criticized the airline's policy, telling Die Welt newspaper that he had contacted the Kuwaiti ambassador in Germany about the issue.
German Transport Minister Christian Schmidt told Bild newspaper that it was not acceptable to discriminate against airline passengers because of their nationality, and said the German government would address the matter with the Kuwaiti government.
"This requires contacts at the ministerial level," Schmidt told the newspaper in an interview to be published on Saturday.
"We will do all we can within our legal means to prevent something like this in the future," Schmidt told the paper.
There was no immediate response to a request for comment emailed to the airline.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal, Editing by William Maclean)