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El Al Graduates Arab Flight Worker

November 1, 1999

JERUSALEM (AP) _ Israel’s national airline has graduated its first Arab flight attendant in nearly a decade, the company said Monday, several months after it came under attack for discriminating against Arabs.

Hassan Joubran, a law student from the northern Israeli city of Akko, completed the training course Sunday and can begin flying as soon as he passes the necessary tests, El Al said in a statement.

Arab citizens, who make up about one-sixth of Israel’s population, complain that El Al refuses to hire them as flight attendants and subjects them to humiliating security checks.

The company drew unwanted publicity this summer when an Arab candidate sued El Al for turning him down three times for the flight course, and an Arab couple was awarded $4,000 from the company after a court found it discriminated against them by refusing to check their luggage.

The company has said that it has not hired an Arab flight attendant in the last eight years because so few have applied for the job, and that heightened security for Arabs is necessary because of the possibility that an Israeli plane might be hijacked by an Arab.

Arab passengers complain of other slights _ El Al attendants do not explain safety precautions in Arabic, although it is an official Israeli language.

El Al has recently begun offering Arabic-language newspapers in its flights as a conciliatory gesture.

In-flight Service Director Huli Raz said in the statement that Jabroun would make an excellent flight attendant and that she hoped ``many more″ Arabs would follow in his footsteps.

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