A restaurant in Davos no longer rents snow sports equipment to Jewish guests. This is not the first time that the tourist destination has made headlines with the controversy surrounding Jewish holiday guests. Investigations are now underway.
“Due to various very annoying incidents, including the theft of a sled, we no longer rent sports equipment to our Jewish brothers,” the restaurant near the Pischa mountain station in Davos announced over the weekend with posted letters in Hebrew.
The cantonal police confirmed the facts at the request of SRF. She received a corresponding message from a private person on Sunday afternoon. “Since it is an official offense, the Graubünden cantonal police have started the investigation,” said media spokesman Roman Rüegg.
A case under the discrimination criminal standard?
The legal basis can be found in the Criminal Code under Discrimination and Incitement to Hatred (Art. 261bis StGB). “Here, for example, it could be that there was a violation of the offense because a benefit was denied to a certain population group, in this case the Jewish population,” explains lawyer Manuela Hugentobler from the University of Bern.
The Swiss Association of Israelite Communities (SIG) speaks of a new “level of audacity”. “An entire group of guests is collectively dismissed because of their appearance and origin,” said SIG General Secretary Jonathan Kreutner. “This is completely shocking.”
Not for the first time a topic in Davos
For the Swiss Association of Israelite Communities, the rental freeze is not an isolated case. There are a lot of things wrong in Davos.
There are hotels, restaurants and shops that do not warmly welcome Jewish guests. «It was only last summer that the local tourism organization stopped working with us and ours Dialogue project put on hold,” said the SIG Secretary General.
This not only exceeds a moral and taste limit. “We will take legal action or file a complaint after violating the racism criminal law,” announced Kreutner.
That doesn’t belong in Davos.
“Every form of anti-Semitism, racism and discrimination is to be condemned,” says Philipp Wilhelm, mayor of Davos and member of the Grand Council of the Canton of Graubünden. “That doesn’t belong in Davos.”
“We have been an open tourism destination for over 150 years,” says Wilhelm. He demands that the dialogue with Jewish Orthodox representatives be continued.
Story of the Jewish Davos
- 1897-1905: “International Sanatorium” strictly kosher in Davos Dorf
- 1903: First petition for the establishment of a Jewish cemetery rejected; Around a hundred Jewish people lived permanently in Davos
- 1905: Kosher Pension Schneider opens
- 1917: Association founded and international fundraising for a kosher spa hotel for Jewish lung patients in Davos
- 1919/20: Foundation of a Jewish community in Davos
- 1919: Opening of the Jewish Sanatorium. Etania” with synagogue and mikveh
- 1931: Davos Jewish Cemetery
- 1936: Murder of NSDAP regional group leader Davos Wilhelm Gustloff by David Frankfurter
- 1991: Etania Sanatorium (“Jewish Healing and Recreation Center Davos”) closes
- 2000s: Davos increasingly attracts Jewish Orthodox guests from the USA, Israel, Belgium (Antwerp) and Switzerland.
- 2008: temporary synagogue and kosher restaurant in the “Dutch sanatorium”
- 2015: Haus Etania is renovated and serves as a kosher self-service hotel; The Jewish “Association for the Sick” continues to support destitute Jewish spa guests
- 2019: Conflict surrounding the Torah inauguration for the synagogue in the Hotel Cresta, Davos Platz
- 2019: Likrat Public – SIG (Swiss Jewish Community Association) mediation project starts in Swiss tourism locations such as Davos
- 2021: Founding of an association to establish a Talmud Torah school in Davos
- 2023: Davos Tourism terminates its collaboration with the SIG and Likrat
“As a tourism organization, we are in contact with all groups and try to enable a dialogue,” says Reto Branschi, CEO of the Davos Klosters tourism organization, to Keystone-SDA. Hospitality and coexistence can only work if all sides respect each other.
Some of the Jewish-Orthodox guests sometimes behave extremely disrespectfully towards their hosts.
The corresponding notice comes from a single tourist provider and is “very poorly worded” and not in the spirit of the Davos Klosters destination. “We distance ourselves from it.” But Branschi also says that dealing with some of the Orthodox Jewish guests is difficult: “This part has difficulty adhering to the rules here and sometimes behaves extremely disrespectfully towards hosts and other service providers.”
Renting will be possible again tomorrow
In an interview with SRF, Ruedi Pfiffner from the restaurant at the Pischa mountain station apologizes for the wording used in the notice. “We will investigate this matter and put it right,” said Pfiffner. The note has been taken down and Jewish guests should be allowed to rent material again starting tomorrow.
The Pischa sports railways explain that the restaurant is an externally leased location of the mountain railway. The company was not familiar with the matter.