Nothing is more guaranteed to raise the ire of Zionists than to tell them that Israel is an Apartheid state. After all, they say, Arabs have the vote. Which is true except that in Israel politics are ethnically not class based. Arab parties are therefore always in the minority. Class politics are almost absent from both the Knesset and Israeli society, subsumed by Jewish supremacy, segregation and Zionist chauvinism.
The key test of any Apartheid society is the question of segregation. In the Deep South of the USA and South Africa this meant signs saying ‘No Blacks or Coloreds’. In Israel segregation is far more subtle. There are for example no signs in schools saying No Arabs yet Israel’s schools are completely segregated between Jew and Arab (except for a handful of private ones). Likewise Jewish towns exclude Arabs as do social clubs and facilities. Again there are no signs.
In Israel’s hospitals there are no signs saying that Jewish and Arab women are segregated when giving birth but that is the situation.
This issue came to the fore a few years ago when Bezalel Smotrich MK, a Deputy Speaker of Israel’s Knesset and member of the far-Right Habayit Hayehudi called for Jewish and Arab women giving birth to be segregated remarking that "it's only natural that my wife would not want to lie next to a woman giving birth to a baby who would want to slaughter her baby 20 years from now." There were the usual hypocritical denunciations of this from both the Zionist left and right.
|Habayit Hayehudi MK Bezalel Smotrich.Olivier Fittousi|
Smotrich’s wife that "The very first moment a baby comes out to this world is a holy moment, a pure moment, a Jewish moment." According to a
‘only two hospitals refuse to participate in segregation: the Rambam hospital in Haifa and Soroka hospital in Beersheba. At least five hospitals nationwide engage in the practice, the radio reported, though the hospitals denied that segregation was a matter of policy. Officials at some said they would consider it if mothers requested it.
I wrote about this phenomenon in an article dealing with the segregation of men and women at the Hebrew University . The liberal American Jewish paper, The Forward reported that Maternity Ward Segregation (is) Just Tip of the Iceberg in Israel.
Below are articles in Ha'aretz and +972 Magazine describing this practice. But remember, if you hold an Israel Apartheid week at a British university you will be accused of anti-Semitism under the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism. People like Emily Thornberry will call for the expulsion from the Labour Party of anyone who opposes the Jewish Apartheid nature of the Israeli state and Ken Livingstone has been forced to resign from the Labour Party for telling the truth about the history of the vile racist movement that goes by the name of Zionism.
Uproar in Israel: MK calls for hospital segregation quoted Uri Misgav, who published an opinion piece in Ha’aretz " The Judeo-Nazis in Israel's Legislature" referring to "Smotrich and his loyalists." Misgav wrote that "This is not just racism. Racism is always reprehensible and it is important to fight it. But there are also degrees of racism."
"What we see here is a debate about a superior race, racial purity and holiness. About an inferior race that could contaminate the upper race. About a living space uncontaminated by the enemy. About babies who will grow up to be deadly enemies, because they belong to a race of enemies. This is a Nazi way of thinking. There are no other words to put that."
It is fortunate that Misgav wasn’t a member of the Labour Party because that detestable racist, Labour's Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry would be calling for his expulsion. After all under the fake IHRA definition of ‘anti-Semitism’ comparing anything in Israel to the Nazis is ‘anti-Semitic’!
|A maternity ward in Israel with an Arab and Jewish nurse in the background. (Seth J. Frantzman)|
More than a decade after the practice was exposed in investigative reports, Arab women say it has not ended and the Health Ministry tuns a blind eye
New evidence from four Israeli hospitals indicates that maternity wards place Jewish and Arab women in separate rooms on their own initiative, not only at the expectant mothers’ request.
“We generally arrange this automatically,” a representative of Haemek Hospital in Afula told a pregnant woman who inquired about the hospital’s policy in a conversation that she recorded.
“We try to arrange separate rooms because the culture and visiting times are really different,” said a nurse in the hospital. “You feel very intensely that there’s one person and there’s a clan. We try, we can’t say 100 percent, but on days that there’s no pressure, we arrange separate accommodations [for people speaking] different languages.”
This and other recordings are part of the testimonies of four Arab women who gave birth and were roomed separately from Jewish women at Hadassah University Hospital, Mt. Scopus in Jerusalem; Haemek in Afula; Nahariya’s Western Galilee Hospital in and Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva. The women filed a class action Wednesday against the long-standing practice, which they call discriminatory.
More than a decade after the practice was exposed in a number of investigative reports, causing a public storm, Arab women say it has not ended and that the Health Ministry continues to turn a blind eye. In the class-action, filed by lawyers Nadav Miara and Gil Ron of Gil Ron Kenan & Co., in cooperation with the Class Action Clinic of the Tel Aviv University law school, the four are demanding that hospitals prohibit such segregation and pay significant compensation to anyone offended by the policy, in the hope that hitting hospitals in their pockets will finally lead to change.
“The subject of segregation in maternity wards has been in the headlines for a long time; it was in the Knesset, it was in the press, it’s not something new,” said Prof. Alon Klement, Israel’s most prominent class-action attorney and the clinic’s academic supervisor.
“The Class Action Clinic spoke with dozens of women to determination the extent of this segregation. Our research showed that things haven’t changed sufficiently, and there is still blatant segregation in the hospitals. We spoke to women who were made to feel terrible by the experience. The four plaintiffs signed on the suit were willing to stand up and represent an entire group because it is so important to them,” Klement said.
He estimates that thousands of Arab women have been segregated from Jewish ones in this fashion over the past seven years (earlier cases are subject to a statute of limitations).
Rana (a pseudonym), a social worker who lives in Jerusalem, had her three children at Hadassah on Mount Scopus. She became aware of the separation policy in 2009, when she gave birth to her second daughter.
“After the birth I was transferred to the maternity ward and was hospitalized in a room with two other Arab mothers,” she recalls in her affidavit. “When one of my roommates was discharged, an Arab woman replaced her, which aroused my suspicions. As I looked through the rooms on the ward, I saw the segregation — Arab mothers were placed separately, not with Jewish mothers.”
When Rana wrote a complaint letter, a nurse came to her room and explained that the separation was done out of “social sensitivity” and was also in the best interests of the Arab women. “I was not convinced,” wrote Rana. “I felt that this was an excuse for racial segregation.”
In the winter of 2017, Rana returned to Hadassah to give birth to her third child. “This time I was also in a room with only Arab women,” she wrote. Each Arab woman who was discharged was replaced by another Arab woman. “I felt humiliated, I was offended,” she concluded.
Two years ago, an investigative report by Israel Radio brought testimonies of segregation at Hadassah and other hospitals. That was when MK Bezalel Smotrich raised a storm when he commented, “My wife is really no racist, but after giving birth she wants rest and not the mass feasts that are common among Arab mothers who give birth.” He added fuel to the fire later when he tweeted, “It’s only natural my wife would not want to lie next to someone who just gave birth to a baby that might murder her baby in another 20 years.”
That this segregation continues as a matter of policy was made clear in the research done for the class action, in which women phoned various hospitals and asked about the separation of Arabs and Jews in calls that were recorded. Women also asked these questions during tours of the hospitals. All the hospitals responded that the separation was arranged without anyone needing to ask.
Testimony to this policy at Soroka came not just from Arab women who gave birth there and researchers who inquired, but from Naomi, a Jewish teacher from an area kibbutz who had her three children there. When she gave birth there last month, she was put in a room with another Jewish woman. When that mother was discharged the following morning, she was replaced by an Arab woman.
“Shortly afterward a nurse came over and apologized,” Naomi wrote in her affidavit.
“I didn’t understand what the apology was for. The nurse, who was careful to whisper, answered that it was because they’d put ‘her,’ the Arab woman, in the room. She said the department staff did not usually do that and that I had the right to ask to move to another room. The nurse added that the department staff always tried not to put Arab and Jewish women in the same room, but this time there was no choice because this was last available bed in the ward.”
“I was shocked and embarrassed. The whole conversation took place with my roommate lying next to me with only a curtain separating us. I knew she spoke Hebrew and I explained to the nurse that there was no reason for the Arab woman to disturb me. We are all brothers and we are all equal.”
When Hana (a pseudonym) had her fourth child at Haemek Hospital in the summer of 2016, she was put in an Arab-only room, as had been the case after the three previous births. This time she asked if she could be moved to a larger room. “My request was accepted, apparently because I’d had a difficult birth,” she wrote in her affidavit.
“I got to the room with my husband during the night. The Jewish mother who was in the room heard us speaking Arabic and ran out of the room, demanding in a loud voice not to be in a room with an Arab mother. Unfortunately, this request was accepted. Within a short time, The Jewish woman was moved to a different room. After that only Arab mothers were put in my room. I felt humiliated and offended even more than the other times. I felt like they were treating me like a person from an inferior race.”
Of the four hospitals being sued, only Western Galilee Hospital, in Nahariya, is government-owned. Dunya (a pseudonym) gave birth there in 2011 and in 2014 and both times had to remain in the hospital for more than a week after the delivery. “Both times, throughout my hospitalization, not one Jewish mother was put in the room with me. Women came and went, but all of them were Arabs,” she said.
Nothing has changed since then. Women who called the hospital and recorded the conversations were told the segregation policy was still in effect. “How do you divide the rooms?” asked one woman inquiring about giving birth in the hospital. “Well if you’re asking, there is separation,” said the hospital representative. “If you mean Jewish-Arab, then we don’t put [them] together.”
Then-Health Ministry Director General Roni Gamzu refused to issue written instructions barring such segregation. “I do not intend to issue a circular on this issue. It will be disgraceful and probably do more harm than good,” he wrote to Physicians for Human Rights in 2013. A State comptroller’s report issued last year criticized the Health Ministry for not investigating the issue. In its response to the comptroller, the ministry said that since there hadn’t been any official complaints, “As far as we’re concerned it’s not a phenomenon.”
In 2016, Health Ministry Director General Moshe Bar Siman Tov summoned hospital directors to a meeting on this issue. The hospital directors denied there was an official policy on segregating by religion or nationality. They claimed that if it was happening, it was done at the mothers’ requests out of a desire to please them. They explained that the hospitals compete fiercely for births because they get 13,000 shekels (around $3,600) from the National Insurance institute for each birth and thus seek to satisfy the mothers.
For this report the Health Ministry responded, “The suit has not yet been received, and when it is received it will be studied and we will respond in court, as is customary.”
+972 Magazine, Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man Published April 5, 2016
An investigative report finds that numerous Israeli hospitals are openly implementing segregation. But journalists have exposed the phenomenon for at least a decade and nobody seems willing to do anything about it.
Despite years of denials and regulators vowing to tackle the problem, a number of major Israeli hospitals continue to segregate Jewish and Arab mothers in maternity wards across the country, according to an investigation published Tuesday by public radio broadcaster Israel Radio.
The segment on Israel Radio included recorded conversations with three separate hospitals in which a Jewish reporter posed as an expectant mother shopping around for a maternity ward.
The reporter asked a maternity nurse in each hospital whether after giving birth she could avoid being placed in the same room as a non-Jewish (read: Palestinian) woman.
“That’s not a problem, we always do that,” answered a maternity nurse at the Mt. Scopus campus of Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital.
‘Is that an official policy of the hospital?’ The reporter followed up.
“Of course,” the nurse responded. “Especially in the maternity ward… we always try to arrange separate rooms.”
Another hospital, Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba, told the reporter that it couldn’t guarantee a segregated room but that the maternity staff always tries to keep Jews and Arabs separate. “We try not to mix,” even when patients don’t request it, a representative was recorded as saying.
Two hospitals, Soroka Medical Center in Beer Sheva and Rambam in Haifa, were found to not practice segregation in maternity wards.
The phenomenon of segregating Jewish and Palestinian women in Israeli hospitals is far from new, and it has been reported by major media outlets for at least the past decade.
A 2006 article in Haaretz highlighted the practice in two hospitals in northern Israel. One of the hospitals defended the policy at the time citing “differences in mentality” among Jewish and Palestinian patients.
Six years later, in 2012, the Ma’ariv daily newspaper did an undercover investigation in which it found identical results at some of the exact same hospitals that Israel Radio exposed as implementing segregation. “We try to not put Arabs in the same rooms [as Jewish women],” a Ma’ariv reporter was told in the maternity ward of Kfar Saba’s Meir Medical Center at the time.
All of the exposés on the phenomenon over the past decade included statements from hospital administrators and even Ministry of Health officials rejecting any policies or practices of segregation in the provision of health services, specifically in maternity wards. The Knesset has even held parliamentary hearings into the matter over the years.
And yet the practice continues. Nobody seems to be willing or able to put an end to it.
Not just in health care
Of course, segregation also occurs outside of the medical system in Israel. Inside Israel proper education is almost entirely segregated, and housing is largely segregated, especially in smaller communities where officially sanctioned systems are in place to ensure ethno-religious homogeny. Across the West Bank, a massive system has been built to ensure segregation in housing, buses, roads, legal systems, and even some streets. And a majority of Jewish Israelis support that segregation.
And even in the Israeli health system segregation does not only take place along Jewish-Arab divides. In 2012 the Health Ministry ordered hospitals across the country to put African asylum seekers into isolation. That was after Tel Aviv’s Sourasky Medical Center was found to be implementing purely racist isolation policies.
MK Bezalel Smotrich (Jewish Home), a member of the ruling coalition, tweeted out a particularly racist diatribe in defense of the maternity ward segregation on Tuesday.
After claiming that Arab families are louder than Jewish families after giving birth, the hyper-nationalist and admittedly homophobic lawmaker added: “it is natural for my wife to not want to lie next to somebody who just gave birth to a baby that might want to murder her baby in 20 years. That’s the most natural, normal thing in the world.”
Anti-racism group Tag Meir, a group usually demonstrates on-the-ground opposition to Jewish settler violence, announced on Tuesday that it was planning a direct action in response to the report on segregation in maternity wards.
The group was calling on activists to come hand out flowers to both Arab and Jewish women in the maternity ward of the Mt. Scopus campus of Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem on Wednesday. Activists held a similar action following a notoriously racist and Islamophobic annual march through Muslim neighborhoods of the Old City of Jerusalem last year.
See also Segregation in Israel does not begin or end on buses, Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man, +972 Magazine May 20, 2015