While most Israeli Jews are opposed to separation between Jewish and Arab mothers in Israeli maternity wards, nearly half would not live in an apartment building that also housed Arab families, a new poll found.
The issue of separation drew national attention this week after Jewish Home MK Bezalel Smotrich took to social media to support the idea. This came after an Israeli Radio report saying that hospitals have been separating Arab and Jewish mothers in maternity wards when the mothers request it.
According to the Channel 2 survey broadcast on Saturday, 61 percent of respondents said they opposed separation in hospitals, while 34% percent supported Smotrich in expressing approval for it. Five percent were unsure.
The same poll found, however, that nearly half of Israeli Jews (49%) would not live in the same buildings as Arab families, while 42% said they are not opposed. Nine percent said they were not sure.
When respondents were asked whether they would be willing to let an Arab doctor treat them, 82% said yes, and 13% said no, preferring a Jewish doctor. Five percent were unsure.
The survey was conducted on April 7 among 505 Hebrew-speaking respondents. A margin of error was not cited.
On Tuesday, after the Israel Radio report, Smotrich tweeted that his wife was “truly no racist, but after giving birth she wants to rest rather than have a hafla” — a mass feast often accompanied by music and dancing — “like the Arabs have after their births.”
After his tweet received negative responses, Smotrich went a step further, writing: “It’s natural that my wife wouldn’t want to lie down [in a bed] next to a woman who just gave birth to a baby who might want to murder her baby twenty years from now.”
He then added that “Arabs are my enemies and that’s why I don’t enjoy being next to them.”
His wife, Revital, later Tuesday told Channel 10 that she had “kicked an Arab obstetrician out of the [delivery] room. I want Jewish hands to touch my baby, and I wasn’t comfortable lying in the same room with an Arab woman.”
“I refuse to have an Arab midwife, because for me giving birth is a Jewish and pure moment,” she said.
Lawmakers across the political spectrum criticized the comments.
All the hospitals cited in Tuesday’s Israel Radio report denied initiating separation between Jews and Arabs in maternity wards, though some admitted that if they are asked to do so by a patient, they accommodate the request.
The Health Ministry rejected any segregation policy, saying that “no separation on a discriminatory basis is allowed in hospitals. Health Ministry guidelines state that no separation by population is to be made — not by race, ethnicity, country of origin or any other factor.”