Jewish Liquor Store Owner Threatened by Pro-BDS Customer Says He Has Received ‘Overwhelming Support’
The Jewish owner of a liquor store located in the heart of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor campus has received “overwhelming support” after he was verbally accosted and threatened with a boycott by an anti-Israel customer earlier this year, The Algemeiner has learned.
Robert Kastel said that customers have been driving from nearly 100 miles away just to shop at his store, Champion’s Liquor, after a video circulated on social media showing a woman telling him that because he supports Israel, “I won’t be shopping here anymore…[and] I’ll make sure that everyone I know doesn’t shop here anymore.”
“We have a great community — at the university, all over America, in Canada, even Israel — who are doing the opposite of what that lady said she’ll do,” Kastel told The Algemeiner. “People have been calling from all over, asking if I ship liquor, because they only want to buy from me, and mailing us cookies and cake. Our Facebook page has been flooded with messages of support.”
Kastel said he didn’t know he was being filmed by the young woman, who came into the store in March 2016 to tell him that a sign above his store door reading, “With Israel We Stand,” means to her that, “You stand with genocide, with mass killings of women and children, with war crimes.” When Kastel told her, “We are in a country…where we have freedom of speech,” she responded that his exercising of that right is “unprofessional.”
After Kastel retorted that he didn’t care whether she boycotted his store, she replied, “Well, that shows you are Israeli.”
Kastel, who immigrated to America from Iraq in 1982 and opened his first liquor store — a few hundred yards from his current location — with his brother and uncle in 1986, said that this wasn’t the first time his pro-Israel sign had generated “hate” from customers.
“I tell them, ‘You don’t have to look at it; you can look at this other sign over there — or don’t buy from me.’ I don’t care what they say. I do what is in my heart, what I believe is right.”
As The Algemeiner reported on Thursday, students at Michigan, who supported the BDS resolution that was defeated by a landslide on Tuesday, are refusing overtures by the pro-Israel community to promote dialogue and unity. Ann Arbor is the same campus at which anti-Israel students erected an “apartheid wall” and staged mock checkpoints during Rosh Hashana this year.
Watch the video of the confrontation below: