End Separation of Jews and Bedouin at Pool in Israel's South, Lawmakers Tell AG

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The entrance to the pool, Mabu'im, June 17, 2018.
The entrance to the pool, Mabu'im, June 17, 2018. Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz

Knesset members from both the opposition and the ruling coalition called on the attorney general Tuesday to work toward ending the separation between Bedouin and Jews at a public swimming pool in southern Israel.

As Haaretz revealed at the beginning of the week, Bedouin are not permitted to enter the pool in Mabu'im at hours designated for Jews – and vice versa. Bedouin who wanted to enter the pool on Saturday were stopped at the entrance and were told that the pool was "for members only."

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In a letter to Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, Knesset members called the separation "a grave practice that has no place in a democratic state" and said it violates an anti-discrimination law.

They added that "it is difficult to stand idly by while children are kept outside of the pool only because of their religion, in a country where they are considered equal citizens."

The letter was signed by Meretz MKs Tamar Zandberg, Mossi Raz, Michal Rozin, Ilan Gilon, and Esawi Freige; MK Yousef Jabareen (Joint List); Zionist Union MKs Eyal Ben-Reuven and Stav Shaffir; Yesh Atid MKs Pnina Tamano-Shata and Yael German, and MK Akram Hasson (Kadima).

As previously reported by Haaretz, the separation is undeclared but nevertheless familiar to both residents and visitors, Jews and Bedouin alike.

An employee said the pool has activities for the Bedouin community during the week ater 6 P.M. and on Friday nights, while the rest of the time the pool is open only to members.

"There is a tacit agreement here," a resident of Mabu'im said. "Bedouin will not enter the pool when there are Jews because the residents threatened to stop coming."

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