A discrimination and slander suit has been filed in Petah Tikva Magistrate's Court against actor Itay Turgeman by a man of Ethiopian origin who says he was blocked from entering a club the actor owns and that the actor insulted Ethiopians in an episode of the "Survivor VIP" television reality show.
The NTIS 135,000 suit was filed by Jeremy Artia, 29, a social activist who served in a Nahal commando unit, who says he was blocked from entering the Dizengoff Club in Tel Aviv. Recently his lawyer also asked the judge to summon the stars of "Survivor VIP" to testify against their fellow contestant regarding the slander allegations.
According to the suit, filed by attorney Ofer Ron on behalf of Artia, the latter "was not permitted to enter the club for racist motives, in contrast to his non-Ethiopian friend who was with him and entered the club with no problem. The incident was documented by the security cameras at the site and was broadcast on Channel 10."
It was also claimed that Turgeman "rubbed salt in the wound by performing ridiculous imitations of members of the Ethiopian community on the program 'Survivor' during prime time."
The Dizengoff Club has been prosecuted once before for discriminatory entrance, as a result of which the owners had to pay NIS 17,000 in compensation.
Turgeman's agent, Zohar Yakobson, said in response: "He's an actor and a comic who imitates everyone - Moroccans, Russians, Romanians and also Ethiopians. He's very good at that. Impersonation is a good thing if it's done with talent; the Gashsash Hahiver based their illustrious career on impersonations, and almost every stand-up comic in the country imitates people from different ethnic groups. Turgeman grew up in Kiryat Malakhi in a neighborhood of immigrants, including many Ethiopians, and there's not a trace of racism in him.
"With regard to the club, Turgeman is one of 10 partners there. He has never stood at the entrance to the club; he's a business partner. As for connecting the program and this suit, I have no doubt someone has an interest here."
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