An Arab couple from northern Israel claims their one-year-old daughter was kicked out of a daycare center in a neighboring Jewish community "because she is an Arab", and have decided to take the matter to court.
However, in an unprecedented legal move, the parents are not suing the daycare center itself, but one of the mothers who they say incited the rest of the parents against their daughter and got her kicked out of the center. This could pave the way for lawsuits not against the discriminating establishment, but against a third party for applying pressure and incitement.
The couple lives in the Arab village of Sulam near the Jewish community Merhavia near Afula. Some eight months ago, when their daughter, D. turned one, they decided to register her in a Merhavia daycare center.
The two communities generally live in harmony together, and when the couple approached Ivon Grinwald, owner of the Ivon daycare center in the town, she told them there was room for one more child and that she had never had an Arab at the center and would love to have D. join.
But the blissful utopia was shattered soon after, and according to the lawsuit, on D.'s first day at the daycare center, many parents, lead by the defendant Neta Kadshai, waged a war of "slurs and efforts aimed at having D. removed from the daycare center, making it clear that the defendants children will not be in the same center as an Arab girl".
'Jewish daycare center should stay that way'The suit, which was filed by attorney Dori Kaspi at the Afula Magistrate's Court, describes a number of racist slurs made by the parents:
"The parents of six of the center's children, including the defendant, approached Grinwald and made it clear to her that they would not have their children in the center with an Arab girl, and that they demand she be kicked out, and threatened that if she is not removed, they would remove their children from the center.
"That same evening, Grinwald called D.'s mother and invited her to an urgent meeting and informed her that some of the children's parents have demanded D. be removed from the daycare center because she is an Arab. As the plaintiff sat there listening, shocked and humiliated, the defendant called Grinwald and told her that if she does not remove D. from the center, she will remove her two children the next day.
"Grinwald explained to the plaintiff that if six of the center's children leave, she will not be able to continue operating the center, and she returned the contract and the checks to the plaintiff."
As a result of the pressure, D. was then kicked out of the daycare center. Now, her parents are suing the mother, Neta Kadshai, who they say was behind the pressure for NIS 300,000 ($76,161).
The lawsuit argues that the defendant "violated the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty. The plaintiff's felt degraded, humiliated and rejected, and they suffered undue pain and suffering as a result of the slander against their daughter and themselves."
The defendant refused to comment on the lawsuit. Grinwald said in response on Thursday, "I want to forget about this and do not wish to comment." In an interview to Army Radio eight months ago, Grinwald spoke of the issue, saying, "The parents called her a girl from 'the sector', they said this is a daycare center for Jewish children and that it should stay that way. These are their personal opinions and I should respect them…I can't change the world, I have to look out for my livelihood…If I go down, four other provider go down with me."