Alleged separation between Israeli Jews and Arabs in hospitals is a "cancer" which will infect Israel's international standing, Opposition leader MK Yitzhak Herzog (Zionist Union) opined Sunday – and called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Health Minister Yaakov Litzmann (United Torah Judaism) to stop it.
"The cancer of racism makes a mark on the rest of us," Herzog stated in a Facebook post, calling it "a betrayal of values sacred to all Jews and Israel."
"Beyond debasing the values upon which the State of Israel was built, segregation in hospitals is causing us massive damage internationally," he continued. "This cancer legitimizes racism and anti-Semitism which may result in harassment of Israeli tourists worldwide."
"Therefore, I urge you, Netanyahu and Litzmann: join me to day to visit one of the hospitals, to meet Jewish and Arab physicians and Arab and Jewish staff who work in maternity wards and treat sick Jews and Arabs," he added. "It is your duty and mine to put political egos aside and show that values are more important than politics."
Herzog's comments surface amid a contentious media debate over segregation in maternity wards nationwide.
The Ministry of Health says that it does not permit any discriminatory separation; this includes divisions based on religion, country of origin, ethnicity and more.
But after an explosive Reshet Bet study finding that just two hospitals in Israel refuse to segregate postpartum mothers if requested, Jewish Home MK Bezalel Smotrich ignited a massive backlash — after he said separate rooms should be an option in every hospital, citing an Arab cultural phenomenon of holding noisy post-birth parties.