For the past seven years the country club in the local council Kochav Yair-Tzur Yigal has refused to accept Arab members. Yet the community’s Jewish neighbors were welcome to enjoy the club’s three swimming pools, fitness room, lawns and other facilities.
Some 20 percent of Lev Hamakom country club’s members are from the Tzur Yitzhak community and the West Bank settlement Tzofim, to the east of it.
Following a petition filed by a resident of the nearby Arab village Tira against the club’s policy three years ago, the club recently decided to sanitize the ban: From now on, membership will be restricted to Kochav Yair-Tzur Yigal’s residents, who of course are all Jewish, while no outsiders, Jewish or Arab, will be allowed in, the local council decided.
Dr. Ahmed Mansour, an ophthalmologist from Tira, petitioned the Lod District Court three years ago against Kochav Yair-Tzur Yigal and the organization operating the country club after his request to buy a club membership for himself, his wife – a physiotherapist in Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital – and their small son was denied. The petition was submitted by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.
Mansour said in the petition that there was no swimming pool in Taibeh and Kalansua, the neighboring towns, while the pool in Tira only opens late in the summer.
The court has debated the petition several times but hasn’t reached a decision.
“There appear to be good neighborly relations with Kochav Yair,” Mansour said this week. “My clinic is full of people from there. Many of them shop in our town too. It becomes a problem only when we also want to be in the country club. Suddenly, segregation is required. It’s offensive. I could buy membership to a pool in Kfar Sava despite the distance. But this racism annoyed me. I only want justice.”
The manager of the country club wrote in a statement to the court that memberships are not sold to residents who are not members of Kochav Yair-Tzur Yigal. He told Haaretz that the decision went into effect on July 1.
Last week, outside the country club, a Tzur Yitzhak resident said she and a few of her friends bought membership to the club that day.
A club official who came out asserted: “You’re a Kochav Yair resident.”
“No, I’m not,” the neighbor said. “You never even asked me when I paid for the membership.”
A person who called the club and said he lived in Tira also received details of the membership’s price.
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