One of the unspoken issues in public discourse in most countries is the racism of patients toward nurses who originate from a different ethnic group than theirs. The aim of the present study is to examine whether patients' racism toward nurses increases as the invasiveness of treatment rises. This study was conducted in Israel, a highly conflictual society where Jews and Arabs live together and meet in the same health facilities. Despite the tension and sometimes animosity caused by the political situation, members of each group regularly encounter members of the other group during the provision of health-care, both as patients and as medical and nursing staff. A study questionnaire which presented nine nursing treatments of diverse levels of invasiveness was filled out by Arab and Jewish participants. They were asked to convey their preference for an Arab or a Jewish nurse for each treatment. Results of Logistic Regression Analyses reveal that in both sectors, racism toward nurses increases as the treatment invasiveness rises. These findings are discussed in light of the concept of social distance, and serve as an empirical basis for several proposed practical recommendations for eradicating racism against nurses. © 2023 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.