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Are “Minority Discounts” for Israeli Arabs Reverse Discrimination?

Home Center, an Israeli home wares chain, has been offering  a secret discount to Arabs. When customer Eli Chai discovered and reported this last week, a Home Center spokesperson explained, “Home Center offers a wide range of attractive discounts throughout the year. As part of a plan to target specific communities, the chain offers different discounts for different sectors from time to time.” The situation does seem pretty odd, but not altogether uncalled for. I wouldn’t be surprised if Arabs do more than 70% of the construction in Israel, and thus end up spending the most money at those sorts of stores. Why wouldn’t Home Center capitalize on that customer base by offering a good deal? Of course, that’s not how it’s being framed in Israel. Chai is quoted as saying, “I didn't expect to get a discount, but I was appalled when I realized that had I been Arab I would have received one. I tried to think what would happen if it was a discount only for Jews, or Sephardim, or Ashkenazim.” There's plenty of discrimination against Arabs in Israel, and Chai isn’t bothered by that. But when Arabs are favored, it’s a grave in justice!  It may feel inappropriate to offer a discount based on ethnicity, but it’s hardly shocking in a society that’s so clearly divided along those lines.

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