A mountain hotel in Davos has denied the rental of skiing equipment to Jewish guests, citing persistent unruly behavior
The Pischa mountain restaurant hotel in Davos, Switzerland, has announced it will no longer rent out skiing and other snow-sports equipment to Jewish guests, due to an alleged long history of unruly behavior, property damage and theft. The establishment faced accusations of anti-Semitism, causing a major scandal and a police investigation.
The offensive notice appeared over the weekend at the door of the room used to store skiing equipment at the resort. The message in Hebrew explicitly denied Jewish guests access to the service.
“Due to various unfortunate incidents, including the theft of a sled, we no longer rent sports equipment to our Jewish brothers. This applies to all equipment such as sledges, airboards, ski jacks and snowshoes. Thank you for your understanding,” the notice read.
On Monday, local police confirmed to daily 20 Minuten that they had launched an official probe into the affair and are now investigating the hotel over alleged “discrimination and incitement to hatred.”
The Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities (SIG) has strongly condemned the resort, branding the policy a new “level of audacity” and pledging to file a complaint of its own over the affair. “An entire group of guests is being collectively denigrated on the basis of their appearance and origin,” SIG Secretary General Jonathan Kreutner claimed in a statement.
The restaurant, however, stood by its decision, explaining it was the result of unruly behavior long exhibited by Orthodox Jews at the resort. “We no longer want the daily hassle and are therefore exercising our right to decide who can lease our property and who cannot,” the resort told 20 Minuten in a statement, insisting that the move had “nothing to do with faith, skin color or personal preferences” of the guests. “One of these guests” is bound to cause a “serious accident at some point,” it added, explaining that such guests routinely scatter the equipment over the mountain slope instead of returning it, grab it from the storage room without permission, and so on.
Regional tourism operator Sportbahnen Pischa AG rushed to distance itself from the incident, explaining that the hotel is an externally leased location at the mountain and the organization had nothing to do with managing it. A similar stance was taken by its parent company, Davos Klosters, with its CEO, Reto Branschi, admitting the notice was definitely “unfortunately worded.”
“The notice can hurt the feelings of the Jewish guest group as a whole and that shouldn’t be the case,” he told 20 Minuten. At the same time, he admitted that Orthodox Jews have displayed unruly behavior for years already and have gotten into various instances of trouble at local resorts, and these “difficulties” with a “small group” were a fact. “The problem has two sides and it has been simmering for years,” the CEO noted.