Ugly racism in Ashkelon: R., a real estate agent from Ashkelon, arrived at a building in one of the southern city's neighborhoods recently with a couple of new immigrants, and was shocked to discover that the place has a policy of not selling apartments to Ethiopians.It reminds me of a joke I was told about Rehavam Ze'evi. He was the founder of Moledet, the party that had "transfer" ie the expulsion of all of the Palestinians, as its main policy. Well the joke says that when he died the education department issued a directive to Jewish school teachers to teach the children the "legacy of Ze'evi" in a positive way. So one day a teacher told her children how there was this great Israeli politician, they nicknamed him Gandhi, who had this idea of getting rid of all of the Arabs from "Israel". Well, this kid, he says, "Miss, that's great! Getting rid of all the Arabs. That's great. When can we do that to the Ethiopians?" The teacher said "don't be so racist in my class!"
A thorough investigation revealed that this policy is shared by all of the building's tenants, and perhaps the residents of additional buildings in the area as well – most of them of Russian descent. In a conversation the real estate agent had with A., the owner of one of the building's apartments, A. asked about the potential buyers. When he heard that they were Ethiopian immigrants, he replied, "Out of the question… This is unacceptable in my apartment.
"Excuse me, but there are no Ethiopians in this area at all, and there won't be any. This is our policy. I have no problem with them living somewhere else… Anyone can come, but not Ethiopians. This is how it is in the entire building, at least I hope it is, in order to preserve the apartment's value and the building's value."
In another conversation, A. repeated his stance, adding, "We’ve kept this rule of not selling to Ethiopians for 16 years. I can't speak for the entire house, but this is how I feel… It immediately drops the apartment's value… Although I'll be leaving the building, their apartments drop 30% in value… I'm no expert in the details, but the price goes down if Ethiopians come.
"I don’t care who lives here, I'm not racist. But when I leave the building where I have lived for the past 16 years, the rest of the tenants will look at me as a traitor because I sold to Ethiopians. I don’t want to ruin my relations with my friends."
A. went on to explain, "It just happened that there are no Ethiopians in the houses around us. A quarter of the apartments have been sold in our building. There are no Ethiopians at all, and almost everyone is Russian.... It's not a written rule, but there is such a decision that it drops the apartment's value.
"This isn't a racist issue, this is reality, which proves that it drops the apartments' prices. Why? That question should be directed to those who don’t want to pay. It's not my call, it's the fact on the ground. People call me at the apartment and they almost always ask, 'Do you have Ethiopians in the building?' It matters to some people, that's all."
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