RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) — A Uruguayan hotelier rejected an Israeli couple as guests claiming he disagrees with Israeli politics.
Amit Bradush, 22, and his partner received a personalized message from the hotelier via the Booking.com platform explaining their reservation had been canceled because his political view was “very contrary to the policies of your country,” reported El Pais news website.
“I had not seen that they were from Israel, I strongly oppose the policies of their country, they are not welcome in my house,” Buena Vista ecological resort’s owner Mauricio Pinero wrote, saying that the pre-payment had been reimbursed. He added that young Israeli guests who are on their post-army trek are particularly difficult.
“I am neither a discriminator nor an anti-Semite. The kids who come after finishing military service in Israel have a profile of celebration, arrogance and things that are not good. We work with a different type of audience. It is not a problem with anyone in particular,” he added.
Jewish and Israeli officials have criticized the action, which drew intense media coverage in Uruguay.
“We repudiate what happened with two young Jews who were not admitted to a hostel in Barra de Valizas because they came from Israel,” read a statement released by the Comite Central Israelita, Uruguay’s umbrella Jewish organization. “Our society is pluralistic and diverse. Let us not allow isolated facts to distill malice, spreading prejudice and bad intention.”
Uruguay’s Minister of Tourism Liliam Kechichian said the incident is “totally inadmissible” and will be investigated. “In Uruguay, it is not acceptable to discriminate on the grounds of religion. We hope that Israeli tourists will continue to visit Uruguay and enjoy the beauty of the country,” she said.
“It is an unpleasant case of discrimination against Israeli citizens, based solely on their identity. It was not based on the political opinion of the tourists, the owner of the hostel did not even know the couple, it seems a case of blind prejudice and I hope it is an isolated case,” Israeli ambassador Nina Ben Ami said of the incident.
On the hostel’s Facebook page, the hotelier said he plans to “continue to maintain” his position “of not accepting (Israeli) young people who have just left the military service,” El Pais also reported.
“About two or three years ago, a kid just out of Israeli military service stayed here. One night, as part of a talk on international politics, as I did not agree with his perspective, he told me that he was trained to kill me in 15 seconds,” he wrote.
“We vehemently repudiate his attitude, his pseudo-explanation and his arrogance of disqualifying an entire people because he does not like their government,” B’nai B’rith said in a statement.
Last month, the government of Uruguay slammed Israel’s ambassador for using social media to criticize a statement by the country’s chancellor that called Tel Aviv the capital of the Jewish state.
Uruguay is home to some 12,000 Jews, according to the Latin American Jewish Congress. It was the first country in South America to officially recognize Israel.