From Zola Levitt:
American Airlines has labeled a frequent flyer statement to a customer in Israel with the address “Jerusalem, Held Territories.”
Angered by this designation of his West Jerusalem residence, Dr. Gerald Schroeder sent a copy of his mileage statement to a Dallas-based Christian ministry to Israel, [Zola Levitt Ministries] which followed up with calls to the airline.
An American Airlines customer relations agent initially apologized, insisting that designating Israel’s official capital as part of “Held Territories” was a “computer glitch,” according to Zola Levitt Ministries. The airline promised to use “Israel” on Schroeder’s future mailings.
The designation came about from an internal two-letter country code on the airline’s computer system that was put there many years ago, explained customer relations agent Michelle Simmons on June 19. Until this incident, “Held Territories” had never printed out to customers, she said.
On June 28, however, Simmons replied to Levitt’s assistant Lawrence Ford with a letter explaining that calling the matter a “glitch” was a misstatement and that too many years have passed to determine how the words “Held Territories” were put in the airline’s database.
Simmons said about 10 people with the airline are looking into the matter, searching for a “globally recognized” source of information to determine if Israel is the best word to describe the area.
“A profit-making business is now deciding who are the real owners of a foreign land,” Levitt told WorldNetDaily. “We seem to be bowing to our worst enemies – the Saudis, the terrorists – and trying to please them. It was American Airlines planes that were hijacked by the terrorists in Boston and crashed into the World Trade Center. Is there a hint here, saying, ‘We’re on your side, pick on someone else next time’?”
Levitt, a member of American’s frequent flyer program himself, said he knows Schroeder, who lives in West Jerusalem, formally considered part of Israel. East Jerusalem is in the territory Jordan lost as a result of its 1967 war with Israel.
Simmons said in her June 28 letter: “In answer to your question about future written references to Jerusalem addresses, we certainly understand the argument for the standard use of Israel. However, in view of what has happened, we want to be very accurate in this regard, and we are attempting to identify a globally recognized source to use to update our database.”
The U.S. State Department, which has a consulate in Jerusalem, lists the city as Israel’s capital on its website. The U.S. Embassy is in Tel Aviv, but the White House has favored moving it to Jerusalem. The United Nations does not list any country called “Held Territories” or “Palestine.”
It is not the first time this year that a multi-national company has stirred controversy with its designation of the Holy Land.
WND reported Jan. 28 that customers in Europe and Israel who purchased Motorola cellphones discovered that Israel is not listed on Motorola’s customer services manual. While excluding Israel, the list includes the non-existent state of “Palestine,” with Jerusalem listed as a Palestinian city.
MSNBC declared a state of Palestine on its online Arabic-language portal, while leaving off Israel from its list of nations, WND reported Feb. 13. In March, according to a WND story, Fujfilm was accused of being anti-Israel when an unauthorized map using the company’s logo excluded Israel.
American’s Simmons told Ford she could not speak for the corporation in an official capacity, but indicated that mailings to the West Bank and Gaza Strip were labeled according to the address given by the customer. An American representative told WND yesterday that a corporate spokesperson would respond to questions, but the call was not returned by press time.
Simmons said one of the people looking into the matter believed that the country information used by the airline had been obtained from the International Organization of Standardization. The ISO includes “Palestine Territories, Occupied” in its list of nations.
In a reply to Simmons’ apology on June 18, Ford said on behalf of Levitt that the mission leader “remains concerned that while an apology has been offered, a reasonable explanation for such a serious mistake has not been made. For instance, has the person responsible for inserting the words ‘Held Territories’ been reprimanded? Suspended? Fired? Does American Airlines in fact recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel? These are just some of the questions which need answering.”
On its website, American lists “Tel Aviv, Israel” as one of the destinations in its network of partners.