FINDING RACISM - THE COUNTENANCE OF THE COUNTRY
Yedioth Ahronoth (p. 2) by Yuval Kaner et al.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
[Translated from the Hebrew press]
Six Israelis of similar age and education went to look for work, rent
an apartment and sign their child up for a private kindergartens. The
six were: an Arab, a Haredi, an Ethiopian, a Russian, a Mizrahi and
an Ashkenazi. In the Israel of 2007, will there be any significance
to their origin or skin color? The answer, regrettably, is: yes. Yes,
there is racism here. Sometimes disguised in a sentence such as,
"[the position] is no longer open," and sometimes obvious, direct, in
a sentence such as, "we don't want an Arab child in the
kindergarten." It is not good to be a member of a minority in the
State of Israel.
In a special project by Yedioth Ahronoth in cooperation with local
newspapers, we sent six Israelis, all similarly educated and in the
same age range, to make calls to dozens of places all over the
country and find out where they are happily received and what city
demonstrates racism shamelessly. This is not a professional survey,
but a random sample only. The responses, you will discover, do not
reveal any shame.
Six educated men with similar personal data were chosen to represent
the various sectors. They went to more than 400 restaurants, cafes,
apartments for rent and kindergartens in 22 cities, from Kiryat
Shmona in the north to Eilat in the south, and offered themselves up
as waiters, tenants and parents who wished to register their children
for kindergarten. During every conversation their origin was made
clear - sometimes by noting their full name, sometimes it was their
accent that gave them away, or alternatively they explicitly
mentioned that they belonged to a certain sector. Between eight and
27 calls were made in every community. Phone calls were taped and
full details of every person contacted are in the hands of the editors.
The Ashkenazi person who called, Itai Unger, was the one who received
the most positive responses, and did not encounter open racism
against him. In second place according to the number of positive
responses he received, following closely behind the Ashkenazi, was
the caller of Moroccan origin, Yehuda Peretz. After him, in third
place, was the Haredi, Yisrael Bernstein, closely followed by the
immigrant from the former CIS, Boris Balenki.
But in fifth and sixth places, lagging far behind, were dozens of
embarrassing refusals. More than half of the conversations carried
out by the caller who immigrated from Ethiopia, Sanbeto Tamno,
garnered refusals (and dozens of insulting comments). Not far behind,
with close to 70% refusals (and endless slamming down of the phone),
was the Arab caller, Said Hasnin.
During the investigation, with results piling up and turning into a
tower of obvious racism, entering the room allotted to Said at the
newspaper became more difficult, pressured and embarrassing. One
after another we gave him telephone numbers of apartments that were,
for certain, available for rent, of relevant jobs and kindergartens
that were not yet full. And he, obediently, again and again dialed -
and was humiliated. Another rejection, another disconnected call,
another evasion. "Sorry, [the position] is no longer open," was the
key sentence that cut through the air - and Said's heart - over and
over again like a knife.
Here are some of the results:
Ramat Gan: Experienced Arab? No. Inexperienced Ashkenazi? Yes
Ramat Gan did not welcome Said (the Arab). When he asked for the
waiter's job he was rejected at two restaurants, one in the Ramat Gan
stadium area and the other in the stock market area, although he
spoke about his experience. Itai (the Ashkenazi), who wanted the same
jobs, was invited for an interview even though he admitted that he
had no experience.
We decided to examine another restaurant, on Jabotinsky street, which
was looking for waiters. Yehuda (the Moroccan ) dialed and was asked
to come for an interview. Sanbeto (the Ethiopian) dialed, and was
invited to stay home. Said called (and suffered another refusal). "I
have a tremendous amount of experience," he tried to insist, but the
owner was even more insistent. "We are full at the moment," he said.
Five minutes later he invited Itai for an interview. [©]
Bat Yam: Ethiopian? Only with a coffee diploma
At the coffee shop on the promenade in Bat Yam, where Sanbeto tried
to get a job as a waiter, they asked him for a "certificate to
operate an espresso machine," explaining: "We work with a very, very
complicated machine here." All his claims that he was a skilled
barman did not help. Itai, in contrast, was immediately invited to
come for an interview. "But I have no experience," he warned. "Don't
worry," said the person in charge. "If we don't take you as a barman,
we will take you as a waiter."
Tel Aviv: Arabs do not sound good over the phone
At the kindergarten in north Tel Aviv in Shikun Dan, Sanbeto, Itai
and Yisrael received positive responses. Said was told: we are full,
we have no room. During a conversation with Said, the teacher
suddenly couldn't hear: "I cannot hear you," she said, "call another
Eilat: Ashkenazim can choose
Eilat apparently does not like Arabs and Ethiopians. Attempts by Said
and Sanbeto to get work as waiters were adamantly denied. A bit later
on Itai called for the same job. "We are looking for barmen and
waiters," said the voice at the other end of the line. "What do you
"I don't deal with Moroccans"
All our representatives tried to get accepted to the kindergarten in
Ashkelon. To Sanbeto they said: "We are full." Yehuda Peretz received
a similar response. After him called Boris, and wonder of wonders,
there's room, and how. "I prefer Russians and not Sabras," said the
teacher. Yisrael, the Haredi, received a positive response, while
Said received a negative response with a smidgen of hope: "I need to
organize a meeting with the parents to examine whether they would
agree to have an Arab child in the class." [©]
Petah Tikva: "The parents will not be comfortable with an Arab child"
Said's attempt to register his son Ahmed to a kindergarten in the Ein
Ganim neighborhood in Petah Tikva was not very welcome. "What can I
tell you," stuttered the teacher, "I have a lot of Russians in the
class. I don't know if they will have any opposition. I have no
problem, but let me talk to the parents. I will have a parents
meeting and tell them, so that there are no problems."
"What could happen," insisted Said "the kid does not have a tail."
"I don't know," said the teacher, "I want him to be well received.
The children won't have a problem, but the parents©."
Holon: The city with the most equality
Following repeated quests, insistent and repeated, Holon turned out
to be lacking racism. All the sectors, without exception, were
invited to rent apartments on Sokolow street and have their children
join the kindergarten in Kiryat Ben-Gurion regardless of religion and
race. Even when Said insisted and asked the renter: "It won't bother
you that I am an Arab?" He responded: "I don't care. It's not a
Hadera: Ashkenazis are cultured
The city of Hadera did not welcome Sanbeto. When he asked to rent an
apartment in the Rambam neighborhood, he received responses in the
negative. Itai, when he called later at the same number, got a better
response. "I am looking for cultured people," said the owner at the
restaurant in the south of Hadera where Sanbeto looked for work as a
waiter. No one wanted him. Three candidates for the job after him,
Said, Yehuda and Yisrael, were actually invited to an interview.
Jerusalem: "I don't want to hang up, but©"
The kindergarten teacher from Pisgat Zeev in Jerusalem was happy
about the call from Boris and spoke with him in fluent Russian.
Sanbeto spoke in Hebrew, but also to a positive response. Said, in
contrast, received this response: "I don't want to hang up on you. I
recommend that you give up on this one and look for another." At 4:50
pm Yehuda asked for work at the cafeteria at Malha Mall. He got a
positive response. At 5 pm Said called the same place and was
informed: "We have already found workers." At 5:15 pm Itai called.
The response: come for an interview tomorrow.
Haifa and the Krayot: Surprising Success for Arabs in Krayot
For the job of waiter at the coffee house in the Yefe Nof
neighborhood of Haifa, three went: Boris, Yisrael and Itai. Boris got
a negative response, Israel also, while Itai was invited to
interview. Said, who was disappointed in the other cities,
encountered positive responses, both in renting and kindergarten
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