Israeli mayor does not want Arabs in community pools

Leader of Lower Galilee Council, Moti Dotan. PHOTO: TIMES OF ISRAEL

Leader of Lower Galilee Council, Moti Dotan. PHOTO: TIMES OF ISRAEL

An Israeli politician says he does not want to see Arabs in local community pools, alleging they have different bathing practices and a “hygiene culture” that is “not like ours [Jews].”

For his comments, the leader of Lower Galilee Council, Moti Dotan, is being sued for £2 million by the Coalition against Racism. The coalition claims the entire Arab population in Israel is eligible for compensation as a result of  potential discrimination across the council-run pools, Times of Israel reported.

He said he was not being racist but that his views were a result of “cultural differences”  taking into account different clothing conventions and “hygiene cultures”. In a recent interview with the Kol Chai radio station, Dotan said: “I don’t hate Arabs, but I don’t want them at my pools. I don’t go to their pools, either.”

His words generated a massive outcry that led him to apologise on  Facebook. “Yesterday, during a radio broadcast, I was asked about the homogenous population that patronises the pools in the council’s towns. In response, I addressed cultural differences between the populations and their conduct at pools. Unfortunately, it’s possible that I was misunderstood, and may have had a slip of the tongue. In any case, I apologise to anyone who felt offended,” Dotan said. The comments by the head of the Lower Galilee Regional Council were strongly condemned and termed “incitement to racism.”

Dotan, the son of two Holocaust survivors who came to Israel in 1948, and whose grandfather also survived the Nazi death camps, insisted that he had “very good relations with the Arabs in the area, they know my views” and claimed many of them respected him for being  forthright.

This article originally appeared on The Independent.

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