A hotel in the Swiss mountain resort of Arosa is under fire after it posted a sign telling Jewish guests to shower before swimming – sparking outrage among guests and an official complaint from the Israeli foreign ministry.
The notice has since been removed by the hotel manager, who says there was a misunderstanding.
The sign posted at the Aparthaus Paradiesexternal link hotel in canton Graubünden read: “To our Jewish guests, women, men and children, please take a shower before you go swimming and although [sic] after swimming. If you break the rules, I’m forced to cloes [sic] the pool for you.”
It has made the rounds on social media.
Another sign on the hotel’s refrigerator said: “For our Jewish guests: You may access the refrigerator only in the following hours: 10:00-11:00 and 16:30-17:30. I hope you understand that our team does not like being disturbed all the time.”
Jewish guests expressed outrage at the signs and recounted the story to the Israeli TV Channel 2. The incident was quickly picked up by other Israeli media, which described the message as insulting and accused the hotel of anti-Semitism.
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely denounced the sign as “an anti-Semitic act of the worst and ugliest kind”. Hotovely said she had spoken with Israel’s ambassador to Switzerland, Jacob Keidar, who confirmed that the signs in the hotel had since been removed. The ambassador said he had spoken with the Swiss Foreign Ministry about the incident.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Swiss Foreign Ministry said it had contacted Keidar to reaffirm its condemnation of 'racism, anti-Semitism and discrimination in any form'.
Switzerland Tourism spokesman Markus Berger also called the swimming pool sign "unacceptable", adding: "It always needs to stay in perspective: This is one unfortunate incident."
The secretary-general of the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities said it was "really a dumb thing" to do, but he called for calm.
"It's somebody who really didn't think a lot," Jonathan Kreutner told AP, adding that calls to close the hotel were "very exaggerated".
Hotel caretaker Ruth Thomann told the New York-based The Algemeiner newspaper that she had put up the sign because “some of these guests went swimming with clothes on, with T-shirts, and didn’t take a shower”.
As she told the Zurich-based Blick newspaper: “At the moment we have a lot of Jewish guests, and I noticed that some of them don't shower before swimming. So, the owner of the building asked me to do something about it. I rather naively wrote this sign.”
She told the newspaper she now knew it probably would have been better to address the sign to all guests.
However, she finds the criticism for the sign on the fridge unfair. “As a service to our Jewish guests, we allow them to put their kosher food in our deep freeze. But this offer is only for our Jewish guests. I set fixed times for freezer access so that our staff could eat their meals in peace and quiet,” Thomann told Blick.
Thomann believes there was a misunderstanding and admitted that she “used the wrong words” in the signs she placed over the weekend that singled out “Jewish guests”. She said one guest had written to her by email asking her to take the signs down and she confirmed that she had removed the offending messages on Sunday.
She insists that they have many Jewish visitors at the hotel, particularly at this time of year, and they are very welcome.