A woman in southwest Florida was told that her money was no longer welcome at a local gas station she frequented, because of the fact that she is Israeli.
The customer has stopped in at this particular Shell Station in Coral Springs, Florida, frequently over the years to purchase gas and cigarettes. In the past, she has interacted with no problems with the employee, whom she believed to be the owner of the gas station at 4600 North University Drive.
She told Coral Springs Talk that she has been in the convenience store while on the phone speaking Hebrew, so she believes that he has been aware for some time that she was Israeli, though she has been a resident of Coral Springs for the past 15 years. She is originally from Tel Aviv, Israel.
He is Palestinian.
None of this should matter in a place of business in the United States of America. Both the Israeli and the Palestinian are conducting business in an establishment in America. Race, religion, and ethnicity should be irrelevant. But for this long-time Florida resident, it wasn’t.
One day last week, things were very different when she walked into the store. Casting all sense of customer service and simple courtesy aside, the employee told the woman:
“You guys are killers and your money is not welcome here.”
She left the store in shock, vowing never to return.
It was a friend of the family who contacted local media outlet Coral Springs Talk. The woman and her son-in-law told their story, but they, along with their friend, have requested that their name be withheld. They are concerned about possible retribution.
The friend added, “I go there frequently and go through the car wash, and I’ll never go there again. This is disgusting.”
Not only is it disgusting, it is decidedly un-American. Business owners, and their employees, do not have the liberty to discriminate against a customer in a public establishment for their race, ethnicity, or religion.
One concern that has been expressed as the story has circulated on social media is that many of the gas stations in the U.S. are owned by Middle Easterners. What if this type of discrimination were to be allowed to go on unchecked? What if gas stations on a broader scale were permitted to refuse service to Jews, or Christians, or homosexuals, or people who are pro-Israel? This list goes on. Simply put, this type of discrimination must not be allowed to happen.
Coral Springs Talk contacted the Shell’s corporate offices in Houston to question them about the incident. According to Communications Manager Pam Rosen, “Shell does not condone the type of behavior alleged to have occurred and expected that third parties selling Shell-branded motor fuels to treat every customer in a fair and inclusive manner.”
The Israeli woman at the heart of this story and her son-in-law are said to be “credible citizens here in our community,” and they believed that the Palestinian gentleman was the owner of the gas station. However, it has become clear that the owner is actually Jewish, and that the Palestinian is an employee. The owner says that “that behavior is totally intolerable,” and he hopes to get to the bottom of this quickly.
Many commenters have expressed the hope that the employee will soon be a “fired” employee after this incident.
Charges of racial discrimination are serious, as the tragic events in Ferguson, Missouri, have sharply brought to the forefront in recent weeks. It is completely unacceptable for a gas station to refuse to do business with a customer simply on the basis of race. Whether she is Israeli or Palestinian should be irrelevant to making a purchase in the United States. What do you think? How do you think this woman should respond?
[image via MindValley]