Davos Jewish leader says some Israeli tourists 'find it difficult to respect the local laws'

Complaints about ultra-Orthodox Jewish Israelis visiting the town in the Swiss Alps have deteriorated into abject antisemitism, that has an effect on the local Jewish community as well

Ultra-Orthodox tourists in Davos are not the only visitors to the town in the Swiss Alps that leave trash lying around and do not clean up after themselves, according to the head of the umbrella organization for Swiss Jewry, Jonathan Kreutner, but they are the only group singled out for excessive criticism by locals.
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"There is also a problem with cleanliness with ice hockey fans in Davos, it's not just an ultra-Orthodox issue, those who come in a large group sometimes also leave trash and it's not everyone who does it," Kreutner, the secretary general of the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities, told Ynet Live on Tuesday.
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שווייץ הפורום הכלכלי העולמי דאבוס
שווייץ הפורום הכלכלי העולמי דאבוס
Davos has also become a popular destination for thousands of Orthodox Jewish tourists looking to unwind in August
(Photo: AFP)
For many years, Davos, known worldwide as a tourist center, mainly due to the World Economic Forum that takes place in the winter months every year and attracts leaders and celebrities from all over the world, has also become a popular destination for thousands of Orthodox Jewish tourists looking to unwind in August. However, tensions between locals and Jewish visitors have escalated in recent years due to a growing number of complaints about behaviors that clash with local customs.
Last week, tensions came to a head following a wave of complaints from local residents and property owners about excessive littering by tourists and rude behavior in public spaces.
Director General of the Davos Tourism Ministry, Reto Baranshi, criticized the behavior of the Jewish guests in two interviews he gave to local media. "Some of these groups of guests find it very difficult to respect the laws of the place and the rules of common life here," he said in one of the interviews.
A recent stunt by one tourist proved too far for the local hospitality sector. Gipfel Zeitung, a small local newspaper, featured a front-page photo of feces left by Jewish guests on the balcony of a rental cabin, under the headline: Davos: A “shit stain” on the balcony. The newspaper stated that the stunt "undoubtedly comes from someone of Jewish descent." According to the newspaper, the property owner claimed that "he had never experienced anything like this in all his years and has decided not to rent apartments to these people anymore," referring to Jews.
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Article in local newspaper says 'undoubtedly' Jews left excrement on a hotel balcony
Kreutner is bothered by the fact that the Davos locals, and the local media, lump all Jews together as the target of their disdain and hatred, instead of recognizing that these are isolated incidents.
"There is this problem and I have to tell you that it is also Israeli tourists; you have to tell them, 'guys, you are coming to a foreign country, behave properly and know the laws'," Kreutner told Ynet Live.
"But we are Jews from Switzerland, and the director of the local tourism office says that all Jews are garbage, that is not true. I am also taking a vacation in Davos. I was born in Switzerland, I don't go and throw things, you can't generalize them all and throw them all into one pot and say that they embody the same thing," he said.
Kreutner told Ynet Live that the article about the excrement published in the local newspaper was disappointing and unpleasant.
"They say that this excrement was found here on the balcony, and that it is the excrement of a Jewish person - without proof, without anything, it is a Jewish person who left excrement there," he said.
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Secretary General of the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities Jonathan Kreutner
Secretary General of the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities Jonathan Kreutner
Secretary General of the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities Jonathan Kreutner
(Photo: Avi Hai)
His organization filed a complaint about the article, which they view as antisemitic.
"In my view, the situation in Davos is very uncomfortable. Taking the inappropriate behavior of a few individuals and generalizing it to many is simply racist, and they are doing this only in the case of Jews, which makes it antisemitic," he told Ynetnews’ sister publication Yedioth Ahronoth this week.
"Really, you see here, there were articles that were really substandard. I must say that this article was condemned by everyone," Kreutner said. "And it is clear that the police and the authorities also opposed it. But, look, there is an uncomfortable atmosphere. And it's not just the ultra-Orthodox crowd, it hurts the Jewish crowd in general who want to come to Davos, it's unpleasant feelings that bring them and if a private person has a problem because he had a problem with a Jew, then fine."
Kreutner said that such expressions against Jews "generally reduces the value of a person, this is what leads to the fact that it is possible to file a complaint. This also shows the atmosphere that was created, and yet, look, it is important for us as Jews, we make it difficult here between the ultra-Orthodox Israeli community and the local community."
He addressed the Israelis who intend to fly to Davos: "There are anti-Semitic people, no matter what you do - they will protest, but it is important that you know the laws and behave properly, more so than in Israel. In Israel, they don't pay attention, but abroad, if 4,000 Jews arrive in a small town, you notice that not everyone knows the rules."
Earlier this week, the canton of Graubünden, where Davos is located, reportedly opened an investigation into the newspaper headline, the behavior of the Jewish tourists and allegations of racism.
For years, Kreutner has led a project in Davos designed to cultivate positive relations and address behavioral and cultural gaps between tourists and residents. However, Davos authorities have decided to halt their collaboration with him due to the growing number of complaints.
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