ACRI Protests Racist Selection at Tel Aviv Nightclub

ACRI submitted a lawsuit, on 2.1.07, to the Tel Aviv – Jaffa District Court in the name of a student, an Ethiopian Israeli, who was prohibited from entering the club Comfort 13 in Tel Aviv. The 100,000 NIS lawsuit is directed against the nightclub and Dan Naftali, one of the party organizers, who denied the student entry into the club. The court was asked to rule that the selection system that is common practice in many Israeli nightclubs is illegal, and to order the club and the party organizers to immediately refrain from implementing it. The lawsuit was submitted on behalf of ACRI by Attorney Dori Spivak, a member of ACRI`s Board and the Tel-Aviv University`s Human Rights Program.

The claimant, Salomon Rada, 26, immigrated to Israel with his family when he was four years old, and is currently a student of business administration at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center. On Thursday November 2006, a party was held at the Comfort 13 Club in Tel Aviv to mark the opening of the academic year for students studying at the Center. Invitations were handed out on campus which said, “continuing” the tradition of the last few years, we invite all members of the Interdisciplinary Center to a party to mark the new year”.

Rada arrived at the club and waited at the entrance but was refused entry by the nightclub selector who claimed that there was no room. Initially he waited patiently even though it was clear to him that the selector was not telling the truth as she continued to allow other people into the club while he was made to wait outside. After a few minutes Rada asked the selector to let him in again and told her that he had been waiting a long time. In response she repeated her request that he wait at the side and from that point on ignored him. At this stage Rada decided to phone Dan Naftali, one of the party organizers, who promised him that he would be there in a few minutes to sort out the problem. After half an hour, during which the selector continued to let other people in while passing over Rada, Naftali came outside. Rada presented himself as the person who had talked to him on the phone earlier and asked to be allowed into the club. Naftali told Rada that he had arrived late and would therefore have to wait at the side. At this stage two other friends joined Rada, who are also Ethiopian students at the Center and waited with him. The selector ignored additional pleas by Rada and one of his friends. The lawsuit emphasizes that it was only the “blacks” who were left waiting at the entrance to the club while the “whites” continued to arrive and were allowed into the party after waiting for only a short period. The claimant and his friends had no choice but to draw the conclusion that the color of their skin was a deciding factor behind the selector’‘s decision to repeatedly deny them entry. After an hour and a half he and his friends decided to give up on the party and leave.

ACRI makes clear in the text of the lawsuit that the selection system utilized by the club and the party organizers contravenes the law that prohibits discrimination in products, services, and entry to public places and places of entertainment (legislation that was initiated by ACRI). It is also a blatant violation of the obligation to act reasonably and in good faith in all that pertains to (unspoken) contractual agreements, as dictated by section 12 of the Contract Law. It also breaches the constitutional obligation to act equitably and to abstain from acts that are discriminatory.

The lawsuit further states that this specific selective system is run in such a way that the organizers do not verbally state their intention to deny entry. Instead they keep certain people waiting in line for indefinite periods of time as if they are going to be allowed in, when in fact they have no intention of allowing them to enter. On a number of occasions – as occurred in the case described above – these individuals “understand the hint”, give up, and leave despondently. As there is no absolute refusal to allow them into the club, the lawsuit continues, they find it hard to prove that they are being discriminated against. Thus Attorney Spivak states, the court must rule that it is enough for people to be made to wait for long periods outside the club while others are let in for it to be considered an illegal action, and that the court further order that a nightclub that has invited the general public to a party be required to ensure that there is an orderly line through which people are allowed into the club in accordance with their time of arrival only. In reference to the aforementioned case Attorney Spivak adds that the behavior of the defendants was influenced to a certain degree by the color of the youths` skin, and thus, in addition to legal prohibitions which invalidate the selection system in general, the issue in question is also discrimination on the basis of race and national origins.

In light of that set forth above, the court is asked to:

  • Prohibit the defendants from utilizing a system of “selection” at the entrance to parties that are open to the public, and to instruct the owners that party goers must be allowed entry according to their time of arrival only (unless there is a reason to bar a specific person, which should be explained to him/her as the individual’‘s turn comes to enter the club).

  • Award the complainant, Salomon Rada, the sum of 100,000 NIS in compensation. Only a substantial fine like this, Attorney Spivak adds, will deter others from racist behavior such as that described in the case above.
  • last updated : 09/01/07

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    Categories: Democracy and Civil Liberties, The Right to Equality


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