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The owner of a bed and breakfast in the Austrian town of Serfaus refused earlier this month to book rooms to a family because they were Jews.
An Austrian Jew, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he has received threatening e-mails from neo-Nazis, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that Irmgard Monz, the owner of Haus Sonnenhof, a guest house in the Austrian state of Tyrol, wrote in an e-mail to the family that she is "not renting to Jews because of bad experiences."
The Post obtained a copy of the e-mail, in which she asked if the family was Jewish because she was uncertain about their family name. Telephone calls to Monz and an e-mail press query were not returned.
The Austrian Jew, who is married to a Belgian Jew, told the Post that neither the head of Tourism Association in Tyrol nor the governor of Tyrol, GÃ¼nther Platter, had contacted him to apologize for the incident.
According to a report in the daily Tiroler Tagezeitung newspaper, Monz declined to offer a reason for excluding Jewish guests and said it was her right to decide who would be a lodger in her home.
In an e-mail to the Post, Dr. Franz Tschiderer, the chairman of the Tourism Association Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis, wrote, "The landlord's statement that he no longer takes Jewish guests is very regrettable. However, in our opinion, unfortunately formulated, it is not by any means to be interpreted as anti-Semitism. For the last few years, guests of the Jewish Orthodox faith have been vacationing in Serfaus and some landlords have difficulty with their lifestyle (no manual activities during Sabbath)...
"We are aware of how delicate the subject is, but there really are no anti-Jewish attitudes within our population."
Yet Hannes Rauch, the head of the People's Party in Tyrol which governs that southern state, told the Post the "incident is a modern form of anti-Semitism... I hope it is an isolated case. It is not about tourism. Sensitivity has to be developed regarding what anti-Semitism is."
However, in a telephone interview, the People's Party mayor of Serfaus, Georg Mangott, defended the right of Monz to refuse guests because it was a "private room" and the "right of the householder is beyond our scope of influence."
Asked if he considered the letter to the Jewish family to be anti-Semitic, Mangott said he "was not familiar with the letter."
According to press reports, Mangott said the incident should not be designated as anti-Semitism.
Speaking to the Post from Israel, the general secretary of Vienna's Jewish Community, Raimund Fastenbauer, said he had received a call from the Austrian Jewish family as well as "calls from other Jewish families" who were turned away from renting rooms in Tyrol.