By Richard Edmondson
Imagine for a moment you’re the owner of a bed and breakfast. It’s a business you run out of your own home. Basically, to help support yourself, you rent your spare bedrooms out to tourists and other visitors who come to your area.
One day you learn that two of your would-be guests are Israelis. And not only that, they have just come off a term of service in the Israeli military. You oppose Israel’s policies and have no wish to have such people staying in your home, so you tell the two tourists they are not welcomed and you fully refund them the advance deposit they had paid for lodging. The tourists go away, complain to officials of your government; the Israeli ambassador to your country gets involved, as does a major Jewish organization; an uproar ensues, and a day or so later you receive notice that your home is about to be demolished.
This is what happened to Mauricio Piñero, the owner of the Buena Vista, a bed and breakfast located in the small coastal town of Valizas, in the Department of Maldonado, in Uruguay.
In some cases, Piñero’s story is a classic case of traitorous public officials placing the interests of Israel above that of their own citizens, but perhaps there’s more to it than that. South America for some reason seems to be a major tourist destination for vacationing Israeli soldiers. In a post back in December, Thierry Meyysan noted that Joe Lewis, a Jewish billionaire, has been purchasing large tracts of land in Argentina–areas several times larger than the state of Israel. These areas, he says, lie mainly in the region of Patagonia, and he reports that some 8,000 to 10,000 Israeli soldiers go there each year for “holiday camps.”
Uruguay, I should note, borders Argentina and, relatively speaking, is not that far from Patagonia.
Recently Piñero’s story broke in the Uruguayan media. My attention was called to it by one of our readers, Ariadnatheo, who is proficient in Spanish and who was able to provide a summary of an article that was published on January 12 in El Pais, one of the major newspapers there.
For those able to read Spanish, the full article is here. What appears below, keep in mind, is only a “summary” of the report–not a full, precise translation–provided by Ariadnatheo, although she assures me that the passages in quotation marks are indeed direct quotes from Piñero and other persons quoted in the article.
A young Israeli couple were denied lodging in a bed-and-breakfast on the coast. The owner said: “When I accepted the booking I didn’t note that they were Israelis. I am against the politics of their country. They are not welcome in my house.” The Minister of Tourism of Uruguay declared that this is “totally inadmissible,” because Uruguay is a country that wants to welcome any person, irrespective of creed, race, color y country of origin. She added that this is an isolated incident and she will send an investigative team to sort this out.
The Israeli tourists, although they were reimbursed for their reservation, lodged a legal action for discrimination.
The owner, Mauricio Piñero, said, “I am not an anti-semite. The young Israelis who come here after their military service, arrive pumped full of adrenaline, are very arrogant and have bad behaviors. We prefer a different kind of guests. Two or three years ago I was having a discussion with an IDF who was a guest here and we touched on politics. When he saw that I was disagreeing with him he told me that he was trained and prepared to kill me in 15 seconds.”
Furthermore, he said, his establishment is not a hotel; it is his house and only he can decide whom he wishes to permit to enter it.
“Whatever justification, this is an act of discrimination, ” said the Israeli ambassador, Nina Ben Ami. “Hostility against a person’s identity, is not typical for Uruguay identidad de unas personas, algo que no es típico en Uruguay.”
According to her, saying that he does not accept young Israelis from the IDF is also discrimination because in Israel the military service is compulsory.
The article also goes to say at the end that similar incidents happened in other countries:
“The presence of Israelis in Argentina, mostly in Patagonia, has elicited criticism from radical groups. Some Mapuches (native tribes) maintain that it is an ‘invasion’ of their land, although the Israeli backpackers are only temporarily there.”
“In other areas the Israelis have also encountered problems obtaining lodging. In October 2016, for example, a hotel in Germany Announced: ‘We do wish to receive Israeli guests. Our apartments are not for them,’ even though the owners then claimed it was a bad translation.
“In some countries, like Iran, Israeli citizens are not permitted entry, nor any persons who have visited Israel, as can be verified by their passports (although the Israeli authorities no longer stamp the passport but give the tourists a separate card).”
That, as I say, was the scoop from El Pais, published on January 12. You can visit Piñero’s Facebook page here. As I write this, the last posting on it was 3:06 p.m. January 11.
On January 13, El Observador, another major newspaper in Uruguay, published a report saying that the Uruguayan Ministry of Tourism had issued an order that Buena Vista, the bed and breakfast operated by Piñero, be closed and the building demolished. The full article in Spanish is here. Below is the summary from Ariadnatheo and with, similar to the above summary, a couple of quotes supplied:
The owner of the B&B could not be prosecuted “for violating the law against racism, xenophobia and discrimination (law 17.817 article 2),” because the law cannot prosecute you for denying lodging in your home, where you live, irrespective of whether guests are paying guest or not.
The prosecution was demanded, among others, by Nationalist [no joke…] Deputy Alejo Umpiérrez.
Nevertheless, through what appears to be an incredible coincidence (and I do mean “incredible”), the municipality discovered that after all the years it has been there, the building appears to be … illegal because some irregularities were found in the initial application for a building permit. So the owner and his family were notified that their house will have to be demolished.
You’ll note: that the house is to be demolished after Piñero’s alleged “discrimination” against two people who were part of an army enforcing a system of apartheid. The colossal irony of this, of course, seems to be lost on the small-minded Uruguyan officials.
Ariadnatheo additionally comments that a “friend who called me this morning to tell me he had heard the news of the demolition on the radio said, ‘A single person cannot fight ‘los judios’ and win because the ‘hijos de puta’ will destroy you. What is needed is what they have: unity and solidarity, but with officials up for sale like the pretend “Nationalist” Umpiérrez, and the blind apathy of the general population, we don’t have that.”
She also comments:
The “building permit” trick has worked fine for decades in Palestine so why not export it?
My friend is right: they are not just opposing you if you stand in their way, they are out to absolutely destroy you. This man has lost not just his livelihood but also his home. No compensation for demolishing an “illegal” construction.
On January 14, an article about what was going on in Uruguay finally did make it into an English language publication, albeit a Jewish one. “Uruguayan hostel rejects Israeli guests over owner’s anti-Israel political view,” reads the headline over an article in the JTA–a report that quotes…a Uruguyan government minister…the Israeli ambassador…and even a major Jewish organization inside the country, but which, incredibly, makes no mention of the demolition order on Piñero’s home.
In other words, the only part of the story that got reported by the JTA was the turning away of the poor, discriminated-against Israelis by the presumably anti-Semitic bed and breakfast owner.
“Jewish and Israeli officials have criticized the action, which drew intense media coverage in Uruguay,” the article states.
If the JTA reported a follow-up story on the demolition order, I have not been able to find it. On the other hand, versions of the January 14 JTA article were picked up and reprinted by the Jerusalem Post and The Forward.
You’ll note that one of the articles summarized above by Ariadnatheo mentions hostility against Israelis from native peoples in Patagonia. Apparently this has been going on for at least a few years. Incidents of “anti-Semitic aggression” in Patagonia were reported in early 2015 by both The Guardian and the Jerusalem Post. Both stories include quotes attributed to the “attackers” by the Israeli “victims” in the incidents.
From the Jerusalem Post:
“You come here to steal our Patagonia”, the attackers reportedly shouted. “Go, f***ing Jews, f*** Israelis.”
And from The Guardian:
The attackers screamed “You shit Jews, you are trying to take over Patagonia,” said Yoav Pollac, the 38-year-old owner of Onda Azul in the town of Lago Puelo, where many young Israeli backpackers stay.
Of course, true to form, neither report makes any attempt to address why native Patagonians may have become so hostile to Jews. It’s simply taken for granted that the Jews in the area where the reported incident occurred were nothing more than innocent lambs.
In his December article, Meyysan observes:
Since the Falklands War, the Israëli army has been organising « holiday camps » (sic) in Patagonia for its soldiers. Between 8,000 and 10,000 of them now come every year to spend two weeks on Joe Lewis’ land.
He also notes that Lewis has built a private airport capable of receiving both military and civilian aircraft, but that “it is impossible to verify the state of the construction work, since these are private lands, and Google Earth has neutralised the satellite photographs of the area, just as it does with NATO’s military installations.”
Finally he closes his article by posing two possible purposes for all this mysterious Israeli activity in southern Argentina: a) that it’s “a programme for the exploitation of Antarctica,” and, b) that Israel may be “building a rear base in case of defeat in Palestine.”
And one final note: Joe Lewis isn’t the only Jew who presently is acquiring large reserves of land in South America. According to a report here, an Israeli organization is now in the process of purchasing 7,000 dunams (1,730 acres) of Amazonian jungle land in Peru. Supposedly the land is being purchased for reasons pertaining to environmental protection. However, apparently there is also a sizeable Jewish community in the Peruvian town of Tarapoto (see here and here), and which probably has little to do with any future plans at exploiting Antarctica.