Outrage after Swiss business says it won't rent ski equipment to Jews

Outrage after Swiss business says it won't rent ski equipment to Jews

A mountain restaurant at a ski resort in Switzerland has been sharply criticised, after it was discovered that they refuse to rent sports equipment to Jewish people. The Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities (SIG) has condemned the anti-Semitic policy and is now considering legal action.

Swiss mountain restaurant bars Jews from renting equipment

On February 11, FDP local councillor for Zurich Jehuda Spielman posted an image to X of a sign recently discovered at the mountain restaurant on Pischa in the ski resort of Davos. Written in Hebrew, the notice read, “Due to various very annoying incidents, including the theft of a sledge, 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." 

It was not long before members of the Jewish community discovered the sign. Speaking to 20 Minuten, a 21-year-old Jewish man said he “pretended I couldn't read Hebrew and asked if he could rent the boards. After the woman asked the manager, she denied the request.” Another skier told the newspaper that the notice made her ”deeply sad. We were actively discriminated against because of our religion.”

Notice labelled as anti-Semitic by Jewish interests in Switzerland

In a statement, SIG Secretary General Jonathan Kreutner said, “The fact that such a letter is publicly hung on a Swiss mountain venue is shocking. The content is highly discriminatory and anti-Semitic.” “I understand if certain people no longer feel welcome in Davos...[It’s] shocking and clearly discriminatory…Such generalisations go too far.”

Kreutner added that Davos Klosters had promised the SIG last summer that they would create a task force designed to promote dialogue between locals and Orthodox-Jewish guests to ensure mutual understanding and respect on both sides. However, despite negotiations being ongoing, he said that nothing had come of the task force and that the sign on Pischa represented a “completely new dimension” in the relationship between Jewish guests, entrepreneurs and locals.

"Even if the company has had isolated bad experiences, that is no reason to generalise," he argued, adding that the organisation was now considering how to respond legally to the sign. While not yet confirmed, the action will likely manifest itself as a legal challenge on the grounds of religious discrimination.

Swiss mountain venue said the new sign is within their rights

In response to the backlash, the mountain restaurant at Pischa submitted a statement, claiming that they were exercising their right to “decide who can rent our property and who cannot.” They added that they have had regular experiences where Jewish guests have left the equipment on the slopes, or have returned the equipment broken.

“We no longer want to bear the risk that one of these guests will cause a serious accident at some point and hold us accountable for it…If certain groups of tourists do not want to adhere to the minimum rules of decency in the host country, that is their problem…The fact that we no longer want to rent anything to them has nothing to do with faith, skin colour or personal preferences, but only with the fact that we no longer want to have these daily incidents,” they concluded. 

Sign does not represent views of Davos Klosters, management assures

For their part, the director of Davos Klosters Tourism, Reto Branschi, told 20 Minuten that the sign was “unfortunately worded” and could hurt Jewish guests. “[The notice] does not represent the attitude of the destination and the tourism providers in our town”, Branchi concluded, adding that Davos remains open to all guests.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Editor for Switzerland at IamExpat Media. Jan studied History at the University of York and Broadcast Journalism at the University of Sheffield. Though born in York, Jan has lived most...

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