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Swiss police probe antisemitism at Davos ski shop

Police are investigating a case of 'discrimination and incitement to hatred'

Police are investigating a case of 'discrimination and incitement to hatred'

Swiss police have launched an investigation into reports of antisemitism in the plush alpine ski resort of Davos, after a ski hire shop was allegedly refusing to sell sports equipment to Jews.

Swiss newspaper 20minuten published a picture of a sign in the window of the Bergrestaurant Pischa, a restaurant and ski hire business in the small skiing area of Pischa, just outside Davos, which read in Hebrew, "Due to various unfortunate incidents including the theft of a sled, we no longer rent sports equipment to our Jewish brothers."

20minuten said the station had told them in a written statement that they "no longer want the daily hassle" of Jewish guests leaving sleds on the slopes or equipment not being returned, or "returned defective."

Jewish community considering legal action

Establishment owner Ruedi Pfiffner apologized in statement to Swiss tabloid Blick and said that the note was "certainly badly worded," but that it had been a result of rising tensions which "exploded."

"We've had to lock the sleds away because members of the Jewish community were just taking them when we weren't there," he claimed, but insisted that he "didn't want to tar everyone with the same brush" and that it "had nothing to do with antisemitism."

He said that Jewish guests "are still welcome" and that he is "ready to talk to those affected."

The Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities saw it differently and said it was launching legal action.

"The poster is undisputedly discriminatory," its general secretary Jonathan Kreutner said in a statement sent to the AFP news agency.

"An entire group of guests is being collectively labelled because of their appearance and origin. Completely open and undisguised."

The Graubunden cantonal police force said it had begun an investigation into "discrimination and incitement to hatred."

Antisemitism has been on the rise across Europe since Hamas militants attacked Israel on October 7 and the subsequent Israeli military operation in Gaza.

Other incidents of antisemitism in Davos

It's not the first time that Davos, best known for hosting the annual World Economic Forum annual meeting, has experienced tensions between locals and Jewish visitors.

The local Davoser Zeitung newspaper said in August that between 3,000 and 4,000 Orthodox Jewish people holidayed in the resort in summer 2023, noting then that there was "increasing criticism of the behavior of these tourists."

Back in 2017, a hotel in the neighboring village of Arosa posted signs telling Jewish clients to shower before using the pool, triggering outrage and official complaints from Israel.

The hotel was reportedly very popular with ultra-Orthodox Jewish guests because it had been accommodating to their needs, including access to a freezer to store kosher food.

mf/lo (AFP, dpa)