GENEVA (AP) — Switzerland’s largest Jewish organization on Monday denounced an anti-Semitic sign on a local ski shop near Davos that prevents Jews from renting equipment there. Regional police launched an investigation.
The sign on Pischa Mountain above Davos, a city known for hosting the annual World Economic Forum meeting of global elites every January, said that after a series of negotiations, the store would not provide equipment such as sleds, skis and Renting more snowshoes to “our Jewish brothers” would lead to “very annoying incidents” – including the theft of a sled.
The message, written in Hebrew, appeared to be aimed at Israeli Jews, who have been traveling to Davos in increasing numbers in recent years – for both summer and winter vacations.
Police in the eastern canton of Graubünden said in an email that they had opened an investigation into possible criminal violations of the Swiss law prohibiting discrimination and incitement to hatred.
The owners of the store could not immediately be reached for comment.
The Davos Tourism Agency declined to immediately comment when contacted by The Associated Press, but said a response would be sent by email.
“After a series of annoying incidents, including the theft of a sled, we no longer rent sports equipment to our Jewish brothers,” said the sign posted on a window at a counter, while helmets sat on a shelf in the back.
The Swiss Jewish Community Association condemned the incident, which was reported in Swiss media following a social media post by Zurich city councilor Jehuda Spielman on Sunday.
“The poster is undeniably discriminatory,” Jonathan Kreutner, the association’s general secretary, said in an email. “That shocks me. This is truly a new level of boldness.”
“This is anti-Semitism,” he said later on the phone. “A whole group of guests are generally labeled based on their appearance and their origins.”
Kreutner initially said the association planned to take legal action over alleged violations of Swiss anti-racism laws, but said it would likely leave the matter to a regional prosecutor to investigate the matter.
The incident came against a backdrop of rising anti-Semitism across Europe and beyond, largely linked to the war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, which has killed more than 28,300 Palestinians in the Hamas-run enclave, according to the Health Ministry were killed in the area.
The war began with Hamas’ attack on Israel on October 7, in which the militants killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapped about 250.
Kreutner also noted that over the years the number of Jewish guests in Davos has increased, indicating that they “obviously feel very comfortable” and welcome in Davos.
“But there are obviously others who have a completely different attitude towards Jewish guests,” he said and admitted: “It is obvious that something is going wrong here.”
Reto Branschi, the head of the Davos tourism agency, was reportedly quoted in the local newspaper Davos Zeitung last year as saying that some of the resort’s Jewish guests “obviously have difficulty accepting and respecting the rules of coexistence here.”
He referred to waste prevention and said such rules were “regrettably not being followed, especially by Orthodox Jews.”