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State won’t sue amusement park over racial segregation

Attorney general says any form of discrimination is illegal, but settles for apology from Superland

The Superland amusement park (photo credit: Liron Almog/Flash90)
The Superland amusement park (photo credit: Liron Almog/Flash90)

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein decided not to take legal action against an amusement park that segregated groups from Arab schools.

In a press release issued Sunday by the Justice Ministry, Weinstein stressed that any form of segregation based on religion or gender is an unlawful violation of the principles of equality, but that, following the park’s public apology and pledge to desist from the discriminating practice immediately, there were no grounds for a criminal indictment.

Weinstein said that the fact that the service wasn’t completely denied, but provided on the basis of racial segregation, did not heal the wrong.

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni had asked Wienstein to look into the practice after reports about it emerged in the press.

“If the facts are correct, then it is a serious symptom of an ailing democracy and every instance must be severely dealt with,” Livni said last month.

Allegations of discrimination at the park were leveled by Khaled Shakra, a seventh-grade teacher at the Ajial school in Jaffa, who tried and failed to book a day at the park for a group of his students.

In a letter shared by the Arab Israeli Balad party on Facebook, Shakra alleged that when he first telephoned to reserve the visit he was told that the dates of June 17,18, and 19 were specifically set aside for group visits and that he could choose any of those dates.

However, according to Shakra, as soon as he revealed the obviously Arabic-sounding name of his school, he was relayed to a second Superland employee who informed him that there were no places available. When Shakra offered to alter the date of his visit he was likewise rejected.

Half an hour later, he said, he called the theme park again, this time introducing himself as “Eyal” — a Hebrew name — and said he represented a Jewish NGO, and was told that the dates were in fact open for his group.

After the story broke, Superland confirmed that it had a policy of designating separate days at the park for group visits by Arab and Jewish schools. However, the park claimed, the segregation policy was due to the demands of both Arab and Jewish schools that feared outbreaks of violence between groups of students.

Livni said that she intended to criminalize any type of discrimination on racial grounds and days after the reports emerged, set up an anti-discrimination telephone hotline.

Stuart Winer contributed to this report

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