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Swiss Resort Bans Jewish Customers from Renting Ski Equipment

A Hebrew sign at the Pischa Restaurant in the Swiss resort of Davos informing Jewish guests that they are banned from renting ski equipment. 

A restaurant and ski equipment hire outlet in the exclusive Swiss mountain resort of Davos is in the spotlight after it posted a sign informing “our Jewish brothers” that they are no longer permitted to rent sledges, skis and other mountain sports gear as a consequence of “various very annoying incidents.”

A sign in Hebrew at the Pischa Restaurant in Davos stated that “due to various very annoying incidents, including the theft of a sledge, we no longer rent sports equipment to our Jewish brothers. This affects all sports equipment such as sledges, airboards, skis and snowshoes. Thank you for your understanding.”

The offending sign was photographed, translated and posted on Twitter/X by Jehuda Spielman, a member of the liberal Free Democratic Party who serves as a municipal councillor in Zurich.

A statement from the local police announced that they had already launched an investigation into the scandal. A police spokesperson told the SDA news agency that a formal complaint was not necessary for an investigation, as “suspicion of discrimination and a call to hatred” was sufficient for officers to begin their inquiries.

Jonathan Kreutner — the secretary-general of the Swiss Israelite Association (SIG) — told the Tages Anzeiger news outlet that the sign was “shocking and clearly discriminatory.”

Kreutner, who is himself currently on vacation in Davos, which attracts large numbers of Orthodox Jewish and Israeli tourists, added: “I understand why certain people no longer feel welcome in Davos.”

The Pischa Restaurant pushed back against the criticism, issuing a statement in Sunday complaining that Jewish guests allegedly did not respect its house rules.

“There are Jewish guests who wanted to rent sledges in street shoes, but would then leave them on the slopes and alert the emergency services even though they were not injured,” the statement claimed. It also complained that Jewish guests were bringing their own food onto the restaurant’s property, accusing them of “populating the best places on the terrace or in the restaurant with picnics.”

Meanwhile, an Israeli tourist on vacation in Davos told the Israeli news outlet Ynet that he had attempted to rent equipment from Pischa on Sunday and had been refused service.

“I pretended not to understand Hebrew and asked if we could rent the equipment. After the woman consulted with the manager, she rejected our request,” the 21-year-old man said.

Tension between businesses in Davos and Jewish guests has been rising in recent months. Last summer, the head of the local tourism office, Reto Branschi, said that littering, poor driving and trespassing on private grounds had caused the resentment of “locals, hosts and other guests.”

However, Branschi criticized the Pischa Restaurant’s announcement for focusing specifically on Jewish guests. “We distance ourselves from this notice,” he told the Tages Anzeiger on Sunday.

In 2017, a similar scandal erupted in the Swiss mountain resort of Arosa after a hotel owner posted signs instructing Jewish guests to shower before they used the swimming pool and to be sparing in their use of the hotel’s refrigerators to store kosher food.