Gett, a.k.a. GetTaxi, an Israeli on-demand mobility company that connects customers with transportation, goods and services, in 2015 launched a new exclusive service called Gett Mehadrin, dedicated to the religious and Haredi sector, connecting passengers with operators who signed an affidavit confirming that their taxi is not used on Shabbat and Jewish holidays.
Gett CEO Mark Oun said at the time: “We are excited to launch another new fleet in our dedicated fleets system, mainly directed at religious-Haredi passengers, providing a perfect service experience for the population whose use of taxis is extensive, even essential. We are confident that Gett Mehadrin will provide a convenient and comfortable platform for those passengers who are interested in a wonderful taxi ride experience.”
Last week, attorney Assaf Pink of Jerusalem has filed a 150 million shekel ($45 million) class action suit against Gett Taxi, claiming that its Mehadrin app is a guise intended to ensure service by Jewish taxi drivers only, and not Arabs.
The lawsuit attached documentation from a hidden camera which allegedly proves the company’s Mehadrin service is not offered for religious reasons. The documentation shows a Gett representative responsible for recruiting drivers to the Mehadrin service in Jerusalem, who says, “I’ll tell you something, a secret: Gett Mehadrin is not for the religious, it’s for not wanting an Arab driver. My daughter today wants to travel – I order her Gett Mehadrin. She doesn’t care if he’s religious or not, she wants a Jewish driver. Now, I can’t write ‘I want a Jewish driver.’ I have here 1,500 Arab drivers, but not even one of them is Mehadrin. Not one will be.”
The lawsuit filed against the company is asking for financial compensation for 940 Arab taxi drivers operating in the Jerusalem area, as well as 1,500 shekel for every passenger who feels that he or she were also affected by the app’s discrimination. The total could reach as much as 200 million shekel ($60 million).
Attorney Pink said the entire premise of the app looks odd on its face from a halachic point of view: “If there were a sincere religious intent here, they should have insisted on Arab drivers for the Mehadrin taxis, because it is well-known that if you fear desecrating the Shabbat, you would prefer the services of a Gentile on Shabbat, who is not obligated to keep the laws of Shabbat.”
Gett responded: “Gett offers its services to all taxi drivers and all users. We staunchly oppose any kind of discrimination. As to Gett Mehadrin – any taxi driver who wants to join this fleet, including non-Jewish drivers, can join, provided he states that his taxi does not travel on Shabbat and Jewish holidays.”
We searched for the Gett Mehadrin app on our smartphone but when we found it, the app that was downloaded was the company’s regular app. We also searched for Haredi Jews who care whether the taxi in which they ride was parked outside a shul on Shabbat, as long as it took them where they wanted to go. None could be found. For now, if you want to avoid an Arab taxi driver in Israel – just do what everyone else does: don’t click on Mohammed.