Israeli car company won’t rent to Arabs, TV report claims

Israeli car company won’t rent to Arabs, TV report claims

Albar tells customer with Arabic accent no cars are available, but tells Jewish client otherwise; firm denies report

Illustrative: A parking lot in Tel Aviv (Moshe Shai/FLASH90)
Illustrative: A parking lot in Tel Aviv (Moshe Shai/FLASH90)

The Albar car rental company refused to rent cars to callers with Arab-sounding names and Arab accents, according to a Channel 2 exposé aired Wednesday.

The allegations of discrimination were denied by the company, which maintained that the cars were in high demand in the summer months and changes in availability were common.

A Channel 2 employee called three branches of the company in three different cities, impersonating an Arab man. In each case, he was told there were no vehicles available.

Minutes later, another reporter, speaking with a Hebrew accent, was offered a choice of models and flexibility on when to come pick up the car.

“My manager told me that every time someone from the Arab community shows up, to tell them there are no cars. All the time they would imply that we should not rent out cars and make up excuses… every excuse just so as not to give them a vehicle,” an employee whose voice was modified to obscure her identity told Channel 2.

Asked about suggestions that Arab renters damaged the vehicles more often than did Jews, a former Albar employee, identified as Roni, said, “Jews, Arabs, secular or ultra-Orthodox, they all cause damage to the cars. We have their credit cards and can bill them for damage.” Arab renters, he said, were not unusually careless when it comes to damaging a rental.

The company said in response that it “rejects with disdain the implications of the TV report, which is based on only two employees who may have set out to harm the company.

“Naturally, during this time of summer, the number of vehicles available for rent changes and is updated on the company’s computers in real time. This situation, as well as our dozens of clients from the Arab sector, some of whose contracts were shown to Channel 2, completely contradicts the claims made in the report.”

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