Beersheba police will open an investigation into allegations of racism at a
local health club following a Channel 10 expose that highlighted apparent racism
on the part of employees of the facility.
The investigation is the first
time police have pursued a criminal probe following such allegations since a
bill against racism in public places was passed 13 years ago.
investigation follows a segment aired on Channel 10’s “Orly and Guy” program
showing Arab visitors being denied entry to the facility by cashiers who said
that only residents of Beersheba could enter. The show included footage of a
Jewish man identifying himself as a resident of a city outside Beersheba, after
which he was granted entry.
The man was told by the cashier that the
restrictions of the facility “are for certain populations, not for
After the report was aired, the Association for Civil Rights in
Israel sent a letter to the Beersheba police calling for them to open a probe
against the facility.
Police initially said that such cases are usually
treated as civil cases, but following additional requests by ACRI attorneys they
decided to open a criminal investigation.
In a statement sent to the
press on Monday, director of ACRI’s public hotline attorney Tal Hassin is quoted
as saying: “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.”
The case is the
latest in a series of Israeli television investigations of racism in Israel,
including one earlier this year at a Tel Aviv amusement park that showed the
owner turning down a visit for an Arab school. The Arab teacher then called back
later posing as a Jew and was told that it would be no problem to host the