Israelis vacationing at the Mamaia beach resort in Romania were surprised to learn how strangers knew their country of origin. Apparently, the wristbands that they were given didn’t only identify them by the resort they were at, it also identified them as Israeli.
• Tourist: ‘This is reminiscent of the old Nazi patch.’
By Shimon Yaish
Israeli tourists visiting the Romanian beach resort of Mamaia, considered one of the hottest new destinations for Israelis on the Black Sea, are being singled out as Israeli by purple bracelets they are asked to wear.
Arik Kogan, an Israeli vacationer who recently arrived at the resort, told Israel Hayom that he noticed in the first few days that seemingly everyone was able to recognize that he was Israeli. People spoke to him in Hebrew and knew his country of origin within seconds of meeting him.
After three days, he realized that the answer was in the purple bracelets the Phoenicia Holiday Resort Hotel had asked Israelis to wear.
Kogan said he made the discovery after three days of seeing prices changing at bars, beach vendors treating him oddly and locals knowing immediately that he was Israeli.
Kogan reported this in a Facebook group for Israelis abroad, and spoke to Israel Hayom about how he discovered the practice.
“I arrived at one of the bars in the beach area and suddenly I happened to see [a list of] colors for the bracelets: ‘Full pension’, ‘half pension,’ and a broad variety of different sorts of guests at the destination hotel. One color stuck out more than the others, however, the purple on my wrist, ‘Israeli group.’ Immediately it dawned on me, and I realized that this was a sign for Israelis,” Kogan said.
“Israelis are the only ones who are marked by their country of origin; none of the other tourists from other countries receive bracelets in such a manner. It’s simply not right. I agree that this is reminiscent of the yellow patch,” he said, refererring to the yellow star Jews were forced to wear under Nazi rule before and during World War II.
Kogan is not the first to complain. A year ago, an Israeli tourist posted in the travel website Trip Advisor that Israelis were marked with purple bracelets given only to them.
“This is dangerous for security,” he wrote.
Kogan later complained to the Foreign Ministry, which responded: “It is bizarre that Israelis are marked with a purple bracelet, very reminiscent of the Star of David on the clothing of Jews during the Second World War. … The Tourism Ministry is that which should be involved.”
Kogan tried to obtain a response from the hotel, which he said pointed a finger at the tourism company Kanfei Meshek, the provider that organizes the vacation in the hotel. The company issued a statement in response saying, “We have nothing to do with this matter of internal arrangements within the hotel, and we certainly did not ask the hotel to mark the fact that the guests are Israeli.”
The Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying the practice is “despicable and shocking. The Israeli Embassy will work to cancel the marking immediately.”
Neither the Phoenicia Holiday Resort Hotel nor the Tourism Ministry commented on the incident.
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