A friendship between a Jewish cashier and an Arab packer in a Gush Etzion supermarket has led to the relocation of 13 Arab workers to other branches across the country.
Moussa, a Hebron resident, has been working as a packer at the Rami Levy store in Gush Etzion for the past year. B., a religious woman from the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba, was employed in the same store as a cashier.
Over time the two grew closer and became good friends, but decided to keep their relationship a secret for fear of their families' reaction. All went well, until a smartphone exposed the friendship and sparked a huge row.
It all began when Moussa asked B. to loan him NIS 4,500 (about $1,320) so he could buy himself an iPhone. B. borrowed her father's credit card – without his knowledge or consent – and purchased the device.
The two agreed that every month, Moussa would give B. NIS 200 ($60) in cash to deposit in her father's bank account. But something went wrong along the way: One morning, B.'s father discovered the expensive purchase made with his card and informed the credit card company.
After a short inquiry, the father found out who was responsible for the purchase. He rushed to his daughter's workplace, demanded that Moussa be fired, and threatened to turn to rabbis and have them call for a boycott of the store if his demand was turned down.
The supermarket's management immediately acted on the request. Within several days, all of the store's Arab workers were forced to sign a special contract forbidding them to talk to female Jewish workers. Thirteen of the Arab employees were relocated to other Rami Levy branches across the country.
Moussa was fired and moved to Jordan, and B. stopped showing up for work.
Jewish worker: Arabs are humans too"We received a clear order that we must not talk to female Jewish workers," one of the store's Arab employees said Thursday. "Now we can't invite them out for coffee, give them sweets or take a ride with them."
It also turns out that Jewish cashiers in the Gush Etzion are regularly advised to stay away from the Arab workers. "I was told not to get close, not to talk to them," said one of the cashiers, who justified the management's decision. "Now, after they signed the contract, they don't harass us as much."
One of her colleagues offered a different opinion: "Arabs are humans too. Forcing them not to talk to Jewish women is exaggerated. It hurts me, but what can I do?"
Rami Levy himself denied the claims. "You are talking about an incident that happened a month and a half ago," he said Thursday. "No one was fired, expect the guy who went to Jordan and the girl whose father didn't want her to work there anymore.
"We have no policy forbidding Arab workers to talk to female Jewish workers. I am against it. The Gush Etzion store has workers from all sectors. If someone forced them to sign without our knowledge, he will be fired immediately. I would like to stress that we offer service to all people wholeheartedly."
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