Israeli hotel warns Jewish guests ‘there will be a lot of Arabs’

Hotels in Israel are offering their Jewish clients some vacation segregation.

Illustrative photo of tourists sunbathing at a hotel pool. (Photo by Benoit Daoust/
Illustrative photo of tourists sunbathing at a hotel pool. (Photo by Benoit Daoust/

Staff at the Magic Sunrise Hotel in Eilat have been making phone calls of their own volition to Jewish clientele who have reservations this weekend to warn them that there will be a lot of Arabs at the hotel due to the Muslim Eid el-Fitr holiday, and offering them to cancel or push back their reservation free of charge, according to a report on Israel’s Channel 10 Tuesday.

In one audio recording of a conversation (Hebrew), the hotel employee can be heard telling a client that it will be crowded due to the end of Ramadan holiday, and that most of the clientele will be from the “migzar,” which means the “sector” in Hebrew, a common euphemism for Israel’s large Arab minority, over 20 percent of the country’s population. The hotel employee goes on to state, “albeit it Israelis, but from the migzar.”

The reporters called back to make sure the earlier call had not been from just one rogue employee. Another reservations agent confirmed the practice, saying, the hotel warns guests “that there will be a lot of Arabs this weekend.” Some guests, he continued, thank the agents for “saving the vacation” with their warnings. “I say it to all of the guests, it’s important to say it.”

According to the Channel 10 report this is a policy implemented by the Fattal hotel chain — and it is not the first time.

The same thing happened at several hotels in September 2015 (I reported on it here), when the Jewish High Holidays overlapped with the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday, except then the warnings were communicated at the time of booking. At the time, the Crown Plaza, Club Hotel and Astral Hotel were telling clients who called to make a reservation that they should take into account many Arabs will also be staying there.

Hotels in Israel, which in my experience are largely overpriced and not very generous, are offering their Jewish clients some vacation segregation.

As I wrote last year about the same phenomenon:

Imagine for a moment that a hotel employee warned a white American making a reservation that blacks would also be staying there at the same time. Or if a hotel warned Christian guests that they might have to share the pool with Jewish families. This is exactly the same.

The phenomenon of segregation in both private and public spaces in Israel is nothing new. In 2013, the Superland amusement park in Rishon Lezion was exposed for segregating between Arab and Jewish schools. There are, after all, already segregated schools, buses, streets and highways. And most recently, a report exposed that public hospital maternity wards have been segregating between Jewish and Arab women. So why not hotels, too?

This is another aspect of the increased normalization of the reality and policy of segregation in Israel.