Judge Says Israeli Municipality Was Right to Remove Anti-racism Signs

Ruled also that meeting be held between groups protesting alleged Jewish-Arab separation in maternity wards and local hospital staff.

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Signs posted in 2016 in Kfar Sava by the Physicians for Human Rights and Zazim – Community Action organizations, reading: "Stop the separation in maternity wards."
The signs in Kfar Sava, before they were taken down, reading "Stop the separation in maternity wards."Credit: Courtesy of Zohar Signs

Two organizations withdrew a petition against the Kfar Sava municipality after a judge determined Sunday that there were reasonable grounds for the city to remove a sign protesting alleged racism in maternity wards.

The organizations, Physicians for Human Rights and Zazim — Community Action, had posted a sign next to the city’s Meir Hospital and elsewhere in the city, protesting the alleged separation of Jewish and Arab women in maternity wards. The signs showed pictures of two babies’ hands bearing hospital ID bracelets, one reading “Jew” and the other reading “Arab.” 

Less than 24 hours after the posters appeared, however, the municipality removed them, explaining that when signs are posted “whose purpose is to hurt or smear or offend the public’s sensibilities, it must intervene and prevent such offensive advertising.”

The two organizations then petitioned the Lod District Court. But yesterday, Judge Jacob Sheinman said that the decision to remove the signs was reasonable and in keeping with the discretion given local governments in such circumstances, and therefore the groups’ petition should be withdrawn.

The judge ordered the hospital’s director and other senior hospital staffers to meet with representatives of the organizations within 60 days in order to hear their opinions and suggestions, and discuss ways of “solving the problem.” 

“The practice of separation in hospitals, to the extent that it exists, is a practice that must be ended in the view of all the parties,” Sheinman wrote.

For its part Zazim said it was pleased with the judge’s decision to order the meeting. 

“Such a meeting will create an opportunity to take action on the ground against the practice of separating new mothers, together with the hospital – and that’s really important,” it said in a statement. 

PHR similarly applauded the initiative. “Since the signs were posted with the intent of changing standard practice in the hospitals, we agreed to the judge’s decision to meet with the hospital to discuss steps to end displays of racism and discrimination by institutions and medical teams,” the organization said. 

“Denying the facts is one of the first responses of medical teams when they are confronted with racist conduct, and we see such a meeting as a way to crack this defensive mechanism in order to bring about change,” PHR added

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