Landlord calls bagel shop's request for rent extension 'Jewish behavior'

"I would love to know in any context at any time where the term ‘typical Jewish’ was used as a compliment."

Apple's bagel emoji (photo credit: APPLE)
Apple's bagel emoji
(photo credit: APPLE)
The owner of a chain of bagel shops in Edinburgh, Scotland, was shocked when her landlord referred to her request to seek alternative rent payment arrangements due to the coronavirus outbreak as "typical Jewish behavior," Edinburgh Evening News has reported.
The coronavirus pandemic has dealt a major blow to many industries, the restaurant industry is no exception. As a result, it has become increasingly hard for people to make ends meet across the world.
Many people, including Larah Bross, owner of the kosher Montreal-bagel chain Bross Bagels, have been forced to adjust to the crisis. Bross in particular has had to close down her five shops in Edinburgh – in Portobello, Bruntsfied, West End, Stockbridge and Leith – as well as lay off 39 of her 47 employees.
Like many others, Bross was forced to make alternative arrangements for rent payments, and succeeded in doing so with the landlords of her four other locations in the city.
However, Mario Ademir Demirezen, the landlord of her shop in Portobello, who also owns 21 other commercial properties, insisted he needs April's rent. Retired and in deteriorating health, the 66-year-old Demirezen told Bross that he was stuck in Turkey due to the coronavirus lockdown, and was unable to secure finances. He added that other businesses and properties he owns in the area have all done so - but then added that her request was "typical Jewish behavior."
According to the Edinburgh Evening News, Demirezen claimed that this "typical Jewish behavior" he referred to should be viewed as a compliment on her skill and cleverness in business.
“We are talking about the relationship between landlord and tenant here and she is a clever Jewish lady and she is taking advantage of Covid-19 and making more (money) than anyone else," he said, according to the Edinburgh Evening News.
“When I say typical Jewish, I mean they are the richest people in the world and very clever people. She should be proud of her Jewish identity. Jewish people are always clever and there’s nothing wrong with that, she should be proud.
“I have no intention of upsetting anybody. All I was upset about is that all of the people in my other properties have paid up.
“She has got money but not paying it. She is doing quite well in Edinburgh with the opening of all of these branches and she has five shops. If you are running five shops in three years then you must be clever.
“I do not wish to fall out with her as a person and it’s nice to be nice to people.
“I have no intention to go against any religion.”
Bross, however, said she was "shocked and disgusted" by the phrase, which was sent in a text message. Bross explained that she wanted to keep the conversation in writing so she could forward it to her lawyer.
According to the Edinburgh Evening News, Bross is not trying to avoid paying rent altogether, and wishes to arrange payments for a later date.
“I want people to realize this is a difficult time and want to help other people who might be struggling here, other independent businesses.
“I want landlords to be considerate to their tenants who are just trying to make it through, just like they are,” she said.
However, she did not seem to believe that Demirezen's remarks were anything but antisemitic.
"I would love to know in any context at any time where the term ‘typical Jewish’ was used as a compliment," she said, according to the Edinburgh Evening News. "I will be happy to offer free bagels for a year to anyone who can provide me with one."