Israeli Police Open Investigation Into Public Discrimination

racism

 

Thirteen years ago a law was enacted that made discrimination in products, services and entrance to public places a criminal offence. However, until now, the police have refrained from investigating any alleged occurrences of discrimination. Now, for the first time, following repeated correspondence with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the police have announced that they intend to investigate discrimination in the entry policies of the Be’er Sheva Country Club.

 

 

In early July, ‘Orly and Guy’ – a popular Israeli television programme on Channel 10 – broadcast an investigative report about Arab visitors who were denied entry to the Be’er Sheva Country Club. The club claimed that entrance is only available to residents of the city.

 

The show later sent an undercover Jewish field researcher to try and gain admission to the club. After he identified himself as a resident of a different suburb, he managed to gain entry without any difficulty, and was even told that the restrictive rules “are for certain populations, not for you.”

 

Following the report, ACRI sent a letter to the Beer Sheva Police demanding they they open an investigation into the operators of the country club.
Initially the police refused to respond to ACRI’s demand, but following additional requests, in which it was made clear that this type of discrimination is a criminal offense, the Israeli Police’s Southern District Legal Counsel reported that they would open an investigation into the incident.

 

According to Attorney Tal Hassin, Director of ACRI’s Public Hotline, “opening a criminal investigation into allegations of discriminatory behavior conveys an important message that discrimination is not a private matter between the people involved, but a national concern. The prohibition on discrimination is a social value designed to protect the interests of the state. Until now, this law has been applied only through civil lawsuits filed by victims of discrimination, each according to his own capabilities. The opening of an investigation means that finally the criminal component of the law will be applied and perhaps even result in an indictment against a discriminatory enterprise, which will force business owners to think twice before they engage in discriminatory behavior. I call on anyone who has encountered discrimination to file a complaint with the police, who are obligated to investigate all complaints.”

 

According to Tahir Marisat, the social activist and educator who was denied entry to the country club, “I welcome the decision of the police to open an investigation into the discrimination I experienced and hope that the operators of the country club will be held accountable for their actions. This step sends a clear message to anyone who would engage in discriminatory practices, and just as importantly, a message to anyone that has suffered from discrimination to know that they should not remain silent. We shouldn’t forget that the media played an important role in exposing this discrimination, and I hope that other media outlets will follow the example set by Orly and Guy”.

 

Additional Materials

ACRI’s precedent-setting private lawsuit, achieved in June 2013, against a real estate developer who discriminated against Arab buyers.

ACRI calls for an end to discrimination at the Superland amusement park in Rishon Letzion.

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Categories: Arab Citizens of Israel, Racism and Discrimination, The Right to Equality

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