Israeli Council Head: 'I Don’t Hate Arabs, but I Don’t Want Them at My Pools'

Lower Galilee Regional Council head Motti Dotan tells a radio station that Arabs' 'culture of cleanliness isn’t the same as ours.'

Noa Shpigel
Noa Shpigel
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The swimming pool may be paid for, but watch out for the additional expenses, such as ice pops and hot dogs.
Dotan heads a regional council that includes 18 Jewish communities, some of which are located near Arab towns. Credit: Yaron Kaminsky
Noa Shpigel
Noa Shpigel

Lower Galilee Regional Council head Motti Dotan told a radio station on Thursday that he doesn’t want to see Arabs making use of pools in his locality.

"I don’t hate Arabs, but I don’t want them at my pools," he told the radio station. "I don’t go to their pools, either."

"If I'd come in a sleazy bathing suit, or if girls in bikinis come with me, it's clear to you what will happen to them, so that's why they'll [Arabs] stay in their pools and my guys will stay in our pools."

Dotan claimed that his comments had nothing to do with racism. "It's cultural differences, it's not racism In non-Jewish, Arab culture, you go into the pool with clothes, trying to dictate all types of clothing, and that's why it doesn’t suit us. The culture of cleanliness isn’t the same as ours. Why is that racist?" he asked.

Dotan heads a regional council that includes 18 Jewish communities, some of which are located near Arab towns. For example, the Jewish religious kibbutz of Beit Rimon neighbors the Arab communities of Kafr Kana and Tur'an, and the Jewish community of Sarona is located near the Circassian Kafr Kama.

Dotan noted that "also with Arabs, if they act according to our norms I don’t have a problem with them, but it doesn’t happen, that's why I'm making a generalization."

According to him, he doesn’t intend to offend anyone and mentioned the Arab-owned private pool near Beit Rimon. "I haven’t seen a single Jew there. That's not racist. On a day that Jewish men and women can feel comfortable in an Arab town I'll be happy to have them [Arabs] at mine's. Until that happens I don’t want them." 

Arab Knesset member Yousef Jabareen of the Joint List called Dotan's comments incitement to racism.

"In addition to being morally unacceptable, they constitute a criminal offense, and I am contacting the attorney general to open a criminal investigation," adding that the discrimination law on public accommodations includes discrimination based on national identity.

For her part, Meretz Knesset member Tamar Zandberg said racism is reflected in "the policies of the leadership from the prime minister and cabinet ministers and [local] authority heads and local leaders."

A statement from the Abraham Fund Initiatives, which promotes coexistence between Israeli Jews and Arabs, sarcastically said:

"Motti Dotan .., isn't a racist. He simply doesn't want dirty Arabs in his pool. For his part, he promises not to go to 'their' pools (the imaginary pools existing in all of the Arab communities in the Lower Galilee)."

Dotan and those like him are trying to establish segregation as a matter of practice, the organization claimed, and "along the way are trying to convince us that they're not racist. We're not convinced."