Dana International accused of racism

Transsexual singer reportedly unleashes torrent of verbal abuse against heavily pregnant British olah.

Dana International 88 248 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Dana International 88 248
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Famed transsexual singer Dana International has been accused of unleashing a torrent of racial abuse and threats this week against a pregnant, dark-skinned woman who recently immigrated from Britain. The singer's manager, Shai Kerem, has denied the charges, adding that a lawsuit for slander was being planned. "No one in London has called me a nigger before. I come here and get called a nigger, Lee'at Gentely, 25, who is nine months pregnant, told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday. "My dad is Israeli and my mother is black Brazilian. I am of mixed race. I'm from England, but I made aliya because there's so much anti-Semitism, and I wanted to have my baby in Israel," Gentely said, crying. "I don't want to feel that it's acceptable to be called a nigger in Israel," she added. Kerem issued a blanket denial of the accusations. "The whole thing is a lie," Kerem said. "One of Dana's friends filmed the incident on a cellphone. Dana is consulting with a lawyer and planning on suing for slander," he added. Kerem said Dana International, a transsexual of Yemenite background, would be the last to discriminate against others and target ethnic minorities. "It doesn't make any sense," he said. "It's embarrassing to even respond to this claim." Gentely said she and a sister-in-law had arrived at the Olives café in Tel Aviv shortly after midday on Tuesday. "I went to hold the door open for my sister-in-law, who came with her baby in a push chair. Sitting outside at a table was Dana International, two of her friends, and a big dog," she said. "As I held the door open, the dog got in the way of the door, and put its face right up to the baby's face. My sister-in-law moved the baby along, and muttered under her breath to me in English that the dog should be restrained," Gentely added. What followed, Gentely said, was an unprovoked outburst of racial abuse. "Dana started shouting at my sister-in-law, 'You f***** whore, you're a tourist, you're supposed to be nice.' They were really strong words. My sister-in-law said she was not a tourist. I got up and told my sister-in law-to forget it. Dana looked at me, and said, 'You're just a nigger.' "I laughed, because this is not the first time I've heard a racist attack. I can brush it off. But my sister-in-law started crying. At this point, Dana got up from her chair, and squared up to us aggressively," Gentely added. Cafe staff intervened, with one waitress pulling International outside and another moving Gentely and her sister-in-law inside. "A second sister-in-law, who is six months pregnant, and who was at a hairdresser in the area, heard what happened, and came to the cafe. She and Dana have a mutual friend and met a few times. She was very angry, and told Dana she could not believe she said something like this," Gentely said. The second sister-in-law admonished the singer, telling her, "What you said is disgusting." Concerned for the health of her pregnant sister-in-law, Gentely went outside to try and dissuade her from continuing the confrontation. "As I went outside, Dana said to me, you're just a nigger, a f****** ugly nigger," Gentely said. She said the shock and anger caused by the repetitive racial abuse led her to respond by calling the singer "a man." "I admit I did say that," Gentely said, adding that the comment was made in the heat of an unprovoked verbal assault against her. "Dana got up from her chair, clenched fists by her sides. Her two friends, also transsexuals, got up, and grabbed their coffee glasses. They threatened to throw them at us, but ended up smashing them on the floor. The glass is still on the sidewalk. Dana said she would pull out all my f***** hair," Gentely added. The cafe owner then asked Dana and her friend to leave. "As she left, she opened the door, and said: 'Next time you won't be so lucky.' It was so bad. A customer came up to us, crying, and saying he was ashamed of what he had seen," Gentely said. "I'm scared to go out because of her threat. I'm a black woman who is nine months pregnant, I stand out. What's to say she won't do this again?" Gentely has filed a police complaint, and a Tel Aviv Police spokeswoman told the Post that "the incident is being checked." She declined to confirm whether police would question the singer. A 31-year-old man sitting at the cafe witnessed the confrontation, and told the Post he heard Dana International use racial slurs against Gentely. "I told the women I would be glad to testify and tell the police what I have seen," the man, who asked for his name to be withheld, said. "I arrived at the cafe with friends. I heard someone shouting outside, saying the words, 'You're a disgrace' in English. Suddenly I saw the person being addressed was Dana International," he added. "At first she didn't respond, but then Dana made threats, calling a black woman a nigger, and telling her to come outside. She was talking like a gangster to a pregnant woman. This was very disturbing for me. Dana is considered a TV star. I was ashamed. And to call her that word was shocking," he added. "In the end Dana got up, and told the woman she was lucky this time, but that there was a next time. It was a threat," the man said. "There's no room for racism here. We're in 2009. What kind of disgraceful comment is this?" he added. "I know Dana does silly things, but I couldn't believe this," he said.