Geneva — Switzerland’s main Jewish organization on Monday denounced an anti-Semitic sign posted at a local ski shop near Davos, which prohibited Jews from renting equipment at the shop. The regional police opened an investigation.
The sign on the Pischa mountain above Davos, city known for hosting the annual World Economic Forum gathering of global elites each January, said the store would no longer rent equipment such as sleds, skis and snowshoes to “our Jewish brothers” after a series of “very upsetting incidents,” including the theft of a sled.
The message, written in Hebrew, appeared to be aimed at Israeli Jews who have been traveling to Davos in increasing numbers in recent years, both for summer and winter holiday getaways.
Police in the eastern canton or region of Graubünden said in an email that they had opened an investigation into possible criminal violations of Swiss law prohibiting discrimination and incitement to hatred.
The store owners could not immediately be reached for comment.
The Davos tourism agency declined to immediately comment when contacted by the Associated Press, but said it would receive a response by email.
“After a series of disturbing incidents, including the theft of a sled, we no longer rent sports equipment to our Jewish brothers,” the sign said, posted in a window on a counter with helmets on a shelf in the back.
The Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities condemned the incident, which was reported in Swiss media after a social media post by Zurich city councilor Jehuda Spielman on Sunday.
“The sign is indisputably discriminatory,” Jonathan Kreutner, the federation’s general secretary, said in an email. “That surprises me. “This is truly a new level of boldness.”
“This is anti-Semitism,” he said later by phone. “An entire group of guests are being collectively labeled by their appearance and origin.”
Kreutner initially said the federation planned to take legal action for alleged violations of Swiss anti-racism laws, but said he would likely hand the decision over to a regional prosecutor who was investigating the matter.
The incident occurs against a backdrop of rising antisemitism across Europe and beyondlargely in relation to the War between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip That has killed more than 28,300 Palestinians in the territory, according to the Health Ministry in the Hamas-run enclave.
The war began with Hamas’s assault on Israel on October 7, in which militants killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapped about 250.
Kreutner also noted an increasing number of Jewish guests at Davos over the years, indicating that they “clearly feel very comfortable” and welcome at Davos.
“However, there are obviously others who have a completely different attitude toward Jewish guests,” he said, acknowledging that “it’s obvious that there are a lot of things going wrong here.”
Reto Branschi, director of the Davos tourism agency, was quoted last year in the local newspaper Davos Zeitung as saying that some of the resort’s Jewish clients “clearly have difficulty accepting and respecting the rules of coexistence here.”
He cited littering problems and said those rules “unfortunately are not followed, especially by Orthodox Jews.”