As the song says, a Latin American with no money in his pocket.
In the timeless words of Immanuel Kant, “Ingratitude is the essence of vileness.” A striking illustration of this aphorism emerges in the opulent corridors of Jerusalem’s Mamilla and David Citadel hotels. Owned by Alfred Akirov, these establishments have unceremoniously bolted their doors in the face of Israeli citizens displaced by the agony of conflict, citing a “lack of manpower” as justification. This claim is made even more puzzling by the explicit offer from the Tourism Ministry to assist in employee recruitment—an offer that was declined.
We must navigate this narrative with a discerning eye. Amid the tragic backdrop of war, other hotels and chains of high repute have committed to sheltering those in dire straits, even at the cost of reduced rates. Companies like Isrotel, Fattal, and global entities like Hilton and Accor have set a standard for corporate responsibility and national solidarity. This collective effort underscores the stark contrast of Akirov’s decision—a choice that effectively undermines the collective enterprise of addressing a humanitarian crisis.
To contextualize further, the hospitality sector is hardly drained of manpower. The war has led to the temporary shuttering of numerous businesses, leaving a readily available workforce that could easily meet the staffing needs of Akirov’s hotels. It appears that the proclaimed “lack of manpower” serves less as a logistical barrier and more as a veil, obscuring the contours of a more insidious motive: greed.
The specter of this motive is further accentuated when one considers the enormity of the hotels’ capacity. With 194 rooms in the Mamilla and 340 in the David Citadel, the issue is not one of space, but of will—or, more precisely, the lack thereof. To add another layer of disquiet, Israel currently has about 56,000 hotel rooms, 40,000 of which are in areas designated for citizen evacuation. Even as these resources are being stretched thin, the void left by Mamilla and David Citadel is ever more glaring.
In a situation of escalating urgency, where 120,000 Israelis have already been instructed to evacuate areas near the Gaza and Lebanon borders, such blatant disregard for the welfare of one’s compatriots is not just an individual failure, but an erosion of the social contract itself.
Drawing from my expertise in marketing, I want to emphasize a crucial point often championed by thought leaders like Simon Sinek: “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” A brand’s worth is not limited to its material opulence; it’s deeply connected to its positive societal impact. In this case, Akirov’s decision undermines not only the immediate humanitarian efforts but also erodes the long-term value of his own brand. A brand bereft of social conscience is like a vessel without a soul, attractive on the outside but empty within. Consumers, especially in this age of hyper-awareness, will recognize this emptiness and might very well look elsewhere. Those who don’t will be perpetuating the same hollowness that such a brand exudes.
To retreat into the realm of profit maximization while a nation grapples with existential threats reveals not just a lapse in moral judgment, but a fracture in the very fabric of societal cohesion. Here, Kant’s observation about ingratitude finds a bleak but fitting illustration, serving as a poignant reminder that vileness indeed thrives where empathy and collective responsibility are vacated. And from a branding perspective, this lapse could reverberate long after the immediate crisis has passed, leaving a legacy that no amount of luxury can redeem.