The Yeshiva World
A hotel in Uruguay has canceled a booking for travelers after finding out that they were Israeli and had served in the IDF.
Amit Bradush, 22, and his unnamed partner claimed to receive a personal message from the hotel manager via the website which they used to make the reservation, Booking.com. The message explained that the reservation had been canceled due to the political views of the manager, who said that his own politics were “very contrary to the policies of your country.” This was reported by the El Pais website and consequently by the JTA.
“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. For his part, Pinero reimbursed the two Israeli tourists their prepayment. Pinero added that it has also been his experience that young Israeli guests who are on their post-army trek are particularly difficult guests.
“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.
The incident drew an incredible amount of social media attention in Uruguay, a country of some 12,000 Jews. Both Israeli and Jewish leaders in the country have decried the incident.
“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.”
Booking.com announced on Monday it was removing the Buena Vista hostel from its website, after confirming that the Israeli couple had been the victims of discrimination.
“As soon as we were made aware of this case, we immediately reached out to the customer, offered to cover the costs they incurred in finding an alternate place to stay, and have removed this property from our site,” a representative from Booking.com said, in response to a complaint against the hostel lodged by an international Jewish advocacy group, the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC.)
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.
Israeli ambassador Nina Ben Ami said of the incident: “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.”