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Israeli Travel Agents Charge Lufthansa Ran Anti-semitic Ad

April 29, 1992
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The Association of Israeli Travel Agents has accused the German airline Lufthansa of anti-Semitism and denounced an advertisement it ran in the local press Monday as worthy of the Nazi newspaper, Der Sturmer.

But the airline, which aggressively woos Israeli customers, called the charges nonsense. And a Hebrew University professor backed Lufthansa up with a warning against unjustified attributions of anti-Semitism.

The travel agents, who sell most airline tickets on commission, published their complaint against Lufthansa in a full-page advertisement in the Hebrew press Tuesday.

It followed an ad by the German air carrier announcing that it would henceforth sell flights to Germany directly to Israeli travelers at a reduced rate, bypassing the travel agents.

The Lufthansa advertisement featured a line-drawing caricature of a typical Israeli customer, which the Israeli travel agents association said looked like “a Yid with a long nose and a horn growing out of his head.”

The Travel Agents Association’s ad, signed by its chairman, Kobi Karni, reproduced the drawing and ran a typical anti-Semitic caricature from Der Sturmer next to it, under the headline: “This is the way we appear in their (German) eyes.”

The association also objected to Lufthansa’s depiction of a travel agent as a “fat, cigar-smoking slob with his feet on the desk.”

Denying an anti-Semitic slur, a Lufthansa spokesman said Tuesday that the airline chose a lighthearted, comic approach for its advertisement.

He said a so-called “Jew’s hat” on one of the cartoon figures was no more anti-Semitic than the headgear of the Simpson Family, the animated American television series very popular in Israel.

Israel Radio suggested Tuesday that the travel agents were overreacting.

Hebrew University Professor S. Simon, an authority on Nazism and anti-Semitism, seemed to confirm that view. He hinted that the travel agents might be using the charge of anti-Semitism to get back at the airline, whose new policy would eliminate their services and commissions.

He decried indiscriminate charges of anti-Semitism, especially during Holocaust Remembrance Week, when Jewish emotions run high.

In another development, Lufthansa denied the travel agents’ contention that its officials refuse to visit Jerusalem.

“At this very moment, an official Lufthansa delegation is on its way here and will go straight from the airport to Jerusalem for negotiations with Israeli Tourism and Transportation ministries officials,” a spokesman said.

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