WHERE ARE THE ‘NORMAL’ KIDS IN ISRAEL TODAY?

A LOOK AT THE PAST ON REMEMBRANCE DAY … WITH THE HOPES FOR A BRIGHTER FUTURE
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I was considered a ‘normal’ kid while growing up in New York …. BUT one day in 1960 everything changed….
I was walking on the main street in my neighbourhood when I spotted a picket line in front of the local Woolworths. They were handing out leaflets calling for a boycott of the chain. Reason being that Blacks in the Southern states were denied service at their lunch counters.
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Picketers protesting the F.W. Woolworth store’s policy on lunch counter segregation NY,NY 1960
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I joined the protesters and continued on with them for the next year or so …. we finally won as Woolworths reversed their policy. But, one thing led to another and it certainly was not the end of the struggle.
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Unlike the title of James Dean’ movie, we were rebels WITH a cause …
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Today in Israel, history is once again being repeated. As was our victory in the States, it will be so here as well …. somewhere there is a ‘normal’ kid that will get involved in changing this situation …. that’s how it starts.

‘Mahmoud’ can’t get table at an Israeli eatery, but ‘Tamir’ can

A popular restaurant in Rishon Letzion has been accused of racism after an Arab couple claimed they could only make a reservation using Jewish names.

Mahmoud Safouri and his wife, Sama
Mahmoud Safouri and his wife, Sama, who were refused dinner reservations by Rishon Letzion restuarant Soho, below. Photo by Tomer Appelbaum

A popular restaurant in Rishon Letzion has been accused of racism after an Arab couple claimed last week they had been denied reservations when using their real names, but were able to book after calling back and using Jewish names.

Mahmoud Safouri and his wife, Sama, said that on two different occasions, they had recorded calls made to the Soho restaurant in Rishon Letzion, where they had often eaten without making reservations first.

According to Mahmoud, from Jaffa, they first encountered suspicious behavior in May. Restaurant staff took down all of Sama’s particulars but then refused to accept her reservation because “the computer was down.” Suspecting that there might be discrimination involved, the couple decided to record subsequent conversations.

Sama called back and once again tried to make a reservation under her own name, but was refused. Mahmoud immediately called the restaurant and was able to make a reservation for “Tamir,” for the exact same time and date. Sama then called back and once again tried to make a reservation under her own name. She succeeded in doing so only after reprimanding the restaurant hostess and revealing the trick they had played.

The couple then tried again earlier this month. Mahmoud called Soho and asked to make a reservation for two under the name Walid. The restaurant took his name and phone number, and transferred him to another representative, who asked for his particulars again. “Walid” was told there was no room for the day and time he was requesting: “It’s all full, you can maybe try again later to see if something opens up.”

Sama called the restaurant minutes later, and succeeded in making a reservation for two, for “Michal,” at the same time and date. Sama says she later learned the same thing had happened to other acquaintances.

Maisa Grabali, a resident of Jaffa, said that after her sister, Manar, had tried to make a reservation at Soho for two under her own name and was told there was no room, she called back and succeeded in making reservations for two, at the same time, for “Anat.”

Safouri posted the story on his Facebook page Thursday and received numerous responses as friends shared his story across the social media network. “This is the first time we’ve reached a level of disappointment that forces us to share this with all of you,” he wrote. “It’s important for us to note that the food in the restaurant is terrific, but their racist attitude is shameful.”

Bar Cohen, a Holon resident who trained to be a hostess at the restaurant, told Haaretz there were specific instructions to politely refuse reservations from Arabs. “They said, ‘OK, when someone calls and you have to answer the phone, what do you say?’ And I answered, ‘Hi, you’ve reached Soho, this is Bar.’ And they said, ‘No. First you have to ask, ‘To whom do I have the pleasure of speaking?’”

Cohen said her trainer made it clear what that question was for. “‘You’re asking because you want his name, to hear if he’s an Arab or not,’ she said. And I looked at her and asked, ‘Why is that relevant?’ And she said, ‘What do you mean, why is it relevant? You know we’re one of the most successful restaurants in the country, and we don’t want to ruin our good name. If people see Arabs here, they will leave the restaurant. It’s happened to us more than once.’

“At the end of the day, they called me to assign shifts and I told the shift manager that this was a racist restaurant, that they should be ashamed of themselves and I didn’t want to work there,” said Cohen.

Many users posted comments on Soho’s own Facebook page, where the page administrator wrote on Saturday, “Since the issue is indeed important to us, both as a company and in order to maintain the great relationship we have with our guests of all nationalities, we will respond later on and things will come to light. Meanwhile, we are enjoying the exposure and the interaction on our page.”

Despite two calls to Soho by Haaretz Saturday, there was no response from the restaurant’s management.

Written FOR

5 Comments

  1. Blake said,

    November 11, 2012 at 09:06

    Ahh but then there is nothing normal about “Israel” and there never was

  2. Redpossum said,

    November 11, 2012 at 17:51

    Hmm, with all due respect, may I please offer two comments?

    One, “Arab” is an ethnicity, while “Jewish” is a religion. How do Israelis manage to consider those two as opposites, unless it’s just the blindness of shameless bigotry?

    We encounter a similar sort of weirdness here in California, where people fail to realize that “Hispanic” is a cultural grouping, not an ethnicity. My skin is as pale as can be, but I’m still Hispanic, because that’s the *cultural* influence of my childhood. There are also black Hispanics, and every shade in-between, not to mention Hispanics of Asian ancestry.

    Two, this is just a point of typical American ignorance, I’m sure, but *I* wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between Anar and Manat.

  3. Dave said,

    November 12, 2012 at 05:20

    The next excuse for refusing service will be on security grounds, anyone willing to make odds for a bet on that scenario?

  4. a random muslim said,

    November 12, 2012 at 19:34

    so they’ll refuse to the name of ‘Moses’ right? It’s an arabic name so they can’t accept it, even if the person is technically ‘jewish’ or israeli

  5. November 17, 2012 at 01:28

    Israel was just waiting for the end of the US election. Obama has won and the war propaganda has started


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