A Jewish woman refused to share a maternity room with an Arab woman at a northern hospital on Tuesday, resulting in her roommate moving to another room in the hospital.
The Jewish woman, who had just given birth, was sharing a room at HaEmek Medical Center in Afula with an Arab woman who was accompanied by her partner Dr. Wasim Rock, a doctor in the northern city of Nazareth where the couple resides.
Despite the Jewish woman’s protests, hospital staff refused to give in to the women’s request to move the Arab couple elsewhere, telling her they “don’t separate new mothers,” Channel 13 said.
However, as a result of the bitter atmosphere and tension, the Arab couple agreed to move.
Speaking after the incident, Rock told Channel 13 the couple found themselves in a room with a woman “who didn’t take kindly to the fact we were from a different segment of the population to her, and she said she did not want to sleep in the same room with us because she felt unsafe.
“We felt shocked,” Rock said. “I think there are certain people who have an unjustified fear to be with people that are different, and I have only sympathy for these kinds of people. That woman, it shows her personal views, but she doesn’t have the right to request that other people leave the room in a hospital, and that’s what the hospital [staff] explained to her.”
Rock said that as a result of the incident, he and his wife felt uncomfortable, and the next morning requested to be moved to another room.
“We are all citizens of the same country. We need to live together in peace because we don’t have any other country or place to live in. It’s really a shame that relations are experiencing a downturn. I have nothing against that woman,” he concluded.
The Mossawa Center, which advocates for Arab rights in Israel, blamed the incident on what it said is an atmosphere of racism nurtured by the country’s new right-wing government.
“The racist Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and his wife can be proud of the racist atmosphere that they’ve spread. This isn’t the first instance, and to our sorrow it probably won’t be the last where a Jewish woman says she isn’t prepared to share a room with an Arab woman.”
In 2016 Smotrich said he supported the separation of Arab and Jewish mothers in maternity wards in Israeli hospitals.
The statement noted that both the Jewish and Arab women at the Afula hospital were treated by staff comprising both Jewish and Arab doctors, nurses and midwives.