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Yellow Pages scrambles to defend "No Arabs" ads

Yellow Pages have responded to demands to take down ads advertising “Jews Only” businesses by claiming they can’t refuse ads carrying business names approved by the company registrar. This doesn’t stand up to even the most rudimentary fact-checking.

My colleague Roi Maor took the case of the “Arabs free” business listings in the Israeli Yellow Pages a step further, engaging in a brief correspondence with Gilia Shapira, company official tasked responding to protest letter launched via the Shutafut-Sharakah campaign against the ads.

As readers would recall, the gist of Shapira’s argument was that the term Hebrew Labor, used in the ads to signal the business were not employing Arabs of a policy, is a “turn of phrase used in Israel for many years,” and is not in itself illegal; and, more to the point, that Yellow Pages “serves as an advertising platform for its customers and is not responsible for the content of the adverts.”

Roi took Shapira to task on her letter:

Dear Gilia Shapira,
As you may have noticed, my original email was a standard letter sent by many others, and that was the sum of my  my involvement with the campaign. This letter, however, is my own personal message to the Yellow Pages company, and now I have become truly committed to the campaign.
Your response to my first letter left me even more concerned than when I first learned about the ads. Do you really and truly maintain that you will allow any content whatsoever in Yellow Pages ads? Would you run adverts offering little children for sale, trade in human flesh, and so on? Or, alternatively, would you run an advert that contains the words “No Jews / Blacks/ Ethiopians / Mizrahis allowed?”
If we put aside your strange pretence of innocence regarding the meaning of Hebrew Labor, which does you little favour, it would seem to me your stretching the line to include discrimination of Arabs. Yet it also seems you would not allow other wrongful advertising; and if you actually do allow any horror and crime to be included in your adverts, then I am doubly appalled.
Be that as it may, I suggest you reconsider your policy. I don’t think you need to filter every advert for problematic keywords, but from the moment you’ve actually been warned, I would suggest you simply decide a policy of not allowing the term “Hebrew Labor” to appear anywhere in the Yellow Pages. The decision is easy to enforce; it would spare you the real damage caused by your current policy and would significantly contribute to the struggle for the character of a society you are a part of.
With deep concern,
Roi Maor
Shapira wrote back:
Dear Roi,
I guess we didn’t explain ourselves well enough. We would not advertise anything that constitutes a clear violation of the law, like the examples you suggested. The classification “Hebrew Labor” also doesn’t exist here. In the case of businesses whose names were allowed by the company registrar, we have neither ability nor authority to reject their adverts. Complaints on that matter should be pursued through the justice system.
As mentioned earlier, we as a company indignantly reject any and all racism and discrimination.
Kind regards,
Gilia Shapira
This doesn’t remotely meet the mark. First, because Yellow Pages are a private publication that can refuse whatever adverts they like; and second, as exemplified  from the screenshot at the top of the post, because only about 13 of the 25  companies you find on Yellow Pages when you search for Hebrew Labor actually have “Hebrew Labor” in their titles; the rest use it as part of the company description. Here’s to the success of the Shutafut campaign.

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    1. Borg

      Kudos to the Park Hotel in Netanya for pioneering Arab labor. It provided a BOOMING business

      Reply to Comment
    2. max

      “because Yellow Pages are a private publication that can refuse whatever adverts they like”
      Wrong. Just like they can’t refuse to employ an Arab because s/he’s Arab; just like a reatsaurant isn’t allowed to refuse to serve you.
      To refuse the ads based on their content they’d have to prove that the usage of the term consitutes a violation of the law: how could they?
      That’s part of what “law” means – you can’t just go by gut feelings

      Reply to Comment
    3. guy

      Try to place an advert in Yellow pages with the text: “*** right of return supported ***”.

      Reply to Comment
    4. It used to be that there were signs saying “No Jews” in America. Of course, Jews and others were angered by such racism and this type of thing was made illegal.

      So, why does Israel think it can act in such a racist manner? It’s time that Israel grew up a bit.

      Reply to Comment
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