Rejecting Segregation in Israeli Hospitals

4 May 2016

NIF grantees have protested vehemently against the Kfar Saba Municipality, which recently ordered the dismantlement of a billboard urging the local hospital director to “stop the segregation of babies in maternity wards.”

The Kfar Saba Municipality’s ad company told the NIF grantees that bought the ad, Zazim – Community Action and Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHRI), that the billboard “offended public sensitivities.” Media reports later indicated that it was the hospital director who set in motion the municipality’s decision.

Zazim executive director Raluca Ganea said, “Our billboard was fully paid for by citizens who wanted their voices clearly heard on the issue of segregation. The municipality’s response not only violates the freedom of expression of these citizens but lends support for racial segregation in hospitals.”

Physicians for Human Rights added, “Racism exists in Israel’s health system and staying silent about it won’t make it go away but rather will strengthen it. Medical ethics requires equal treatment.”

Following last month’s inflammatory comments by MK Bezalel Smotrich of the right wing Jewish Home party, in which he called for segregation in maternity wards, these grantees raised funds from ordinary Israelis for this billboard campaign. Zazim and Physicians for Human Rights were instrumental in calling for an end to this widespread practice of separating Jews and Arabs in hospitals across the country.

The removal of the billboard has provoked major protests from the public in the media and from progressive Knesset members. Despite the setback, NIF and our grantees are unfazed and are continuing the struggle against segregation and racism in Israel.