Egged bus (archives)
Photo: Gadi Kabalo

Bus driver to Ethiopian: Drink milk and you'll be white

Racist remark costs Jerusalem driver his job. Egged bus company spokesman: We denounce such disgraceful behavior, which puts all of our professional drivers to shame

A bus driver of Arab descent was fired this week after making a racist remark at an Ethiopian security guard at the entrance to the Hebrew University's Mount Scopus campus.


"Perhaps you should drink milk and be white like me," the driver told the guard, who later filed a complaint with the Egged bus company.


In a hearing held last week by Yossi Chachkes, director of Egged's Jerusalem operations, the driver admitted that he had made the racist remark and was dismissed immediately.


Company officials expressed their surprise over the fact that a driver of Arab descent of all people would make such a remark.


"Drivers who are members of minorities, like Arabs, are usually very sensitive to all layers of society. They don't patronize others in an insulting way. It's surprising that such a person would act in such a blatant and degrading way," one of the officials said.


Chachkes stressed that he would not tolerate any form of such behavior among the company's drivers.


This isn't the first time Ethiopian immigrants who work as security guards are insulted by bus drivers entering the Mount Scopus campus. In January 2005, an Egged driver said to one of the guards, "Hey negro, who made you a security guard? I won't open the bus' door for you. You're nothing. Who put you here?" After the incident was made public, the driver arrived at the Egged office in Jerusalem and resigned after 10 years of work.


In another incident, Egged paid a young Ethiopian man NIS 10,000 (about $2,415) in damages after one of the company's drivers called out at him, "You stinking negro, you better be quiet."


Egged Spokesman Ron Ratner said in response to the latest incident, "The bus driver was dismissed immediately after a hearing, in which he admitted to the act attributed to him. He was a temporary driver who acted in complete disregard to what is accepted by Egged.


"We invest huge sums of money in workshops providing Egged's drivers in Jerusalem with all the appropriate values for customer service in the public sectors, regardless of a person's religion, race or sex. We denounce such disgraceful behavior, which puts all of our professional drivers to shame."


A Hebrew University official said that the security guard no longer works at the campus due to reasons unrelated to the incident.


פרסום ראשון: 02.18.09, 09:45
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