Last week a controversy broke out in Israel over the segregation of Palestinian and Jewish mothers in Israeli hospitals.
Israel Radio… reported on Tuesday that various hospitals around the country have been separating Jewish and Arab women in the maternity ward.
Haaretz has a report that there are differences over whether the practice is taking place.
The medical establishment insisted on Wednesday that there was no segregation between Jewish and Arab women in maternity wards. However, Arab doctors complained of racist and discriminatory treatment by medical staff in the country’s hospitals…For many years the health establishment has been segregating Arab and Jewish mothers who come to deliver their babies, particularly in hospitals and maternity wards that serve mixed populations. While this may not be official policy, it is implemented by nurses on these wards, with doctors and hospital management turning a blind eye.
Here is the translation of an article from Israeli Maariv, published 13th April 2016 by Orit A. Brown and Arik Bender. Translation: Jonathan Ofir. It includes the shocking quote: “When a midwife delivers an Arab baby she is asked ‘Did you bring us another terrorist?”
The committee for promotion of women’s standing and cross-ethnic equality of the Knesset headed by Member of Knesset Aida Toma-Saliman discussed this morning (Wednesday) the issue of separation between Jewish and Arab mothers giving birth in hospitals, an issue which came into political and public debate following MK Bezalel Smotrich’s words on the matter. [Smotrich supported the segregation of women giving birth on an ethnic basis.]Professor Dorit Hochner, director of the maternity ward at Hadassah Har Hatzofim was called upon for comment and said: “We respect mothers’ requests, when orthodox mothers don’t want to share a room, we will respect that request. It isn’t racism.” Dr. Lena Kassem, from Doctors for Human Rights, told of the separation in hospitals and regarded Shaarei Tzedek [in Jerusalem] hospital: “When a midwife delivers an Arab baby she is asked ‘Did you bring us another terrorist?’ I heard it with my own ears”.Kassem added further:“There is a clear separation between Jews and Arabs. When it’s an Arab, they say I am passing on a ‘speaker’ [of Arabic]. It’s true that the policy of the hospital does not support racism, but the overall atmosphere of the staff is overtly racist, especially in Shaarei Tzedek. Pass a night there and listen to the general atmosphere – they don’t call the woman by her name but rather say ‘the Ethiopean’, ‘the Russian’, ‘the Arab’. The Arab woman receives a deriding treatment, they put her at the end of the hall and when there’s an emergency it takes time to reach her. This has medical implications upon the health of that woman.”In the discussion, participants were, amongst others, representatives of the Health Ministry, Chairman of the Union of Hospital Managers, the Israeli Medical Union as well as NGO’s and organisations including Adalah – the legal center for rights of the Arab minority in Israel, Naamat, Doctors for Human Rights and more.