Dana International accused in race row

By Keren David, July 9, 2009
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The Israeli transsexual singer Dana International has been accused of threatening and racially abusing two heavily pregnant women in a Tel Aviv coffee shop.

Lee’at Gentely, 25, who made aliyah from Elstree in March, says the Eurovision star called her a “f***ing nig**r” as she had coffee with her two sisters-in-law at the Olive Coffee Bar on Tuesday.

Mrs Gentely, who is mixed race and nine months’ pregnant, said: “What hypocrisy for someone who has suffered discrimination themselves to use this sort of racist language. It is totally unacceptable.”

Dana International’s manager, Shai Kerem, denied the claims, insisting that he had given the police mobile phone footage of the incident and that Dana International — who spent part of this week in London, filming an episode of Beautiful People for BBC2 — had already met a lawyer in order to sue Mrs Gentely for slander.

“It never happened, and she is going to be sued,” he said. “Dana herself is a Yemenite, a transsexual and a Jew, she knows all about being a minority and having to fight for rights, she would never say such things.

“Dana is such a gentle person, shy and modest, not what is described at all. We are not going to let this go.”
Mrs Gentely said the row began when Dana and a group of friends were drinking coffee outside the café, and the women tried to manoeuvre a baby buggy past their dog.

Mrs Gentely’s sister-in-law made a whispered comment about the dog which drew a stream of abuse from the singer.

“She called her a f***ing whore and said ‘You’re a tourist, you’re meant to be nice.’ My sister-in-law told her she was crazy, she said ‘I’m not a tourist.’ The baby was crying and I was saying, ‘leave it, come and sit down’. But she followed us inside and called me a f***ing nig***.”

The argument intensified and, according to Mrs Gentely, ended with Dana using the racial slur several more times.

“I was furious,” said Mrs Gentely. “I turned around and said ‘And you’re a man.’ I admit it was wrong, it was offensive, but I was so angry by that point.

“Staff tried to calm the situation down, but Dana and her friends picked up cups and glasses and squared up to throw them at us.
“We were all crying. In the end they came to their senses, but then they smashed the glasses and cups at our feet.”

Mrs Gentely filed a complaint with the police, who confirmed: “The incident is being investigated.”

Despite this, Mrs Gentely is happy to have made aliyah.

“I love Israel. I’m where I want to be and where I want my child to grow up, as a Jew in the land of its heritage and religion.”

Last updated: 12:21pm, May 9 2011