A Swiss hotel has sparked outrage after posting signs addressed to “Jewish guests”, warning them to shower before going swimming and that they can only use the refrigerator at certain times.
“To our Jewish guests, women, men and children, please take a shower before you go swimming and…after swimming,” read the sign at the Aparthaus Paradies in Arosa, an Alpine resort village in east Switzerland.
“If you break the rules I’m forced to close the swimming pool for you.”
A second sign, also addressed to “our Jewish guests”, warned that they could only access the refrigerator at certain times of the day. “I hope you understand that our team does not like being disturbed all the time,” it read.
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Photographs of the signs quickly went viral on social media and sparked an official complaint from the Israeli foreign minister.
The Aparthaus Paradies rushed to remove the signs and try to contain the fall out. Ruth Thomann, the hotel manager who signed the notices, said the signs were “a mistake”.
“I wrote something naive on that poster,” she told the Blick newspaper.
The hotel management also insisted they had not mean to be offensive. “There was no anti-Semitic intent and the signs were removed,” the hotel said. “We have no problem with Jewish guests at the hotel.”
The hotel is apparently popular with ultra-Orthodox Jewish visitors because it has a reputation for accommodating their dietary restriction and rules about Shabbat, the Jewish holy day.
Ms Thomann said the signs were put up because two Jewish girls had gone into the swimming pool without taking a shower.
She said that Jewish families had been allowed to use a staff refrigerator to store food but that the time limits were posted so that guests were not constantly coming in and out of the staff room.
One Israeli guest told Channel 2 news that staff at the hotel had been “very nice” and they were shocked when they saw the signs. “It was very strange and the sort of anti-Semitic incident we have not been exposed to before,” the guest said.
Israel lodged a formal complaint with the Swiss foreign ministry over the signs. Tzipi Hotovely, the Israeli deputy foreign minister, called the incident “an anti-Semitic act of the worst and ugliest kind.”
“Unfortunately, anti-Semitism in Europe is still a reality and we must make sure that the punishment for incidents such as these will serve as deterrents for those who still harbor the germ of anti-Semitism,” said Ms Hotovely.
A Swiss foreign ministry spokesman said “Switzerland condemns racism, anti-Semitism and discrimination in any form.”
The prominent Jewish rights group, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, also voiced outrage at the incident, publishing a letter Tuesday demanding that Switzerland “close hotel of hate and penalise its management.”