Israeli Taxi App Gett Sued for Allegedly Letting Jerusalem Users Filter Out Arab Drivers

'Mehadrin' service gives users option to only ride in cabs that don't operate on Shabbat, but attorneys and drivers allege that its true purpose is to hail cabs driven by Jews

A Gett cab in Jerusalem's old city, January 1, 2015.
Emil Salman

Israeli cab-hailing app Gett is being sued by human rights lawyers in Jerusalem for offering a service that discriminates against Arab taxi drivers, British newspaper the Guardian reported Friday.

The 150 million shekel ($43.8 million) class-action lawsuit against the company, its CEO Dave Waiser and Gett Israel head Mark Oun, alleges that the app's Jerusalem-based "Mehadrin" option, named after the strictest level of kosher regulations, purposefully filters out Arab drivers from a user's search.

The option's stated purpose is to offer riders a taxi that is guaranteed not to be driven on Shabbat. Although Gett alleges that drivers of any religion can meet the option's standards, Arab Muslim and Christian drivers in Jerusalem will often work during the Jewish Sabbath.

Attorney Asaf Pink, who is working on the case, along with the Israeli Reform movement's legal arm Israel Religious Action Center, investigated the service before launching the suit. The investigation's report stated that in October 2018, two people were sent to pose as prospective drivers to meet with Herzl Moshe, Gett's Jerusalem representative. While meeting with him, Herzl, who was being surreptitiously recorded, said that the Mehadrin service is not intended for religious Jews, but rather "for people who don't want an Arab driver."

"When my daughter wants to travel, I order her a Gett Mehadrin," he said. "She doesn't care if the driver is religious or not because what she wants is a Jewish driver."

He allegedly told the undercover investigators that he would never hire an Arab driver for the Mehadrin service, the Guardian reported. The investigation firm also sent an Arab man to see if he could sign up for the service as a driver, who was turned away.

The lawsuit will also argue that despite Gett's claims, there is no Jewish basis for the Mehadrin option. There is no prohibition on a Jewish person riding the cab of a non-Jewish driver who also drives on Shabbat.  

"They give it a religious title," Pink told the Guardian, "but, in fact, this is a proxy for a racist service that provides taxis with Jewish drivers. Of course, they can’t just say ‘we don’t want Arabs.'”