Photo Credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90
The National Insurance Institute branch in downtown Jerusalem, March 23, 2020.

The National Insurance Institute (Social Security) branch serving the residents of the neighborhood of Shimon HaTzadik, on the outskirts of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, has banned Jews from receiving service there and is admitting only Arab residents, Army Radio reported Tuesday morning (ברקע המתיחות בירושלים: השירות בסניף ביטוח לאומי במזרח העיר הותנה בלאום). The staff at this branch of the Israeli government, in the Israeli capital, was instructed to serve only Arabs, according to a local Arab resident.

“I’ve been in there twenty times and never seen any Jew inside,” the man told Army Radio.

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According to the report, Jews who enter the facility are advised to seek service in other branches, preferably not in eastern Jerusalem.

Otzma Yehudit chairman MK Itamar Ben-Gvir responded: “Unfortunately, since the entry of the Islamic Movement into the coalition in the State of Israel, the phenomenon of racism against Jews has been increasing. If God forbid, it was reversed, and the western Jerusalem branch of the National Insurance Institute said that Arabs may not enter, the police would be investigating, the president would be condemning, the Knesset would become tumultuous. But in our country, we have become fourth-class citizens, Jews who are discriminated against in their own country, what shame and disgrace.”

Sources inside the National Insurance Institute told Army Radio that the decision to segregate between Arabs and Jews at the branch was made in response to growing tensions in the neighborhood since Operation Guardians of the Wall. As you may recall, one of the issues that contributed to the violence in Sheikh Jarrah was the approaching, court-approved eviction of Arab squatters who had invaded Jewish-owned homes in the neighborhood after the Jews had been chased from eastern Jerusalem by the British government and the Jordanians in 1948.

The National Insurance Institute later issued an official response saying the tellers at the Sheikh Jarrah office are fluent Arabic speakers, which is the reason they cater to the needs of Arab citizens. However, the service denied banning Jews from that branch and claimed it is open to anyone wishing to go there.

And from now on they’ll be more careful what they say to those pesky Army Radio reporters.

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.