Swiss lawmaker slams Israel for 'tolerating haredim'

Amid criticism of hotel signs telling Jews to shower, Geneva lawmaker accuses Israel of excessive tolerance of haredim who 'prevent peace.'


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JTA - Commenting on a public outcry over signs that urged Jews at a Swiss hotel to shower, a state lawmaker from Geneva said “Israel should apologize for its excessive tolerance of ultra-Orthodox Jews who prevent peace in Palestine.”

Roger Deneys, a Socialist representative at the Grand Council of Geneva, made the assertion on Facebook Wednesday about the posting of a signs over the weekend at Paradise Apartments in Arosa, some 80 miles southeast of Zurich. Management urged “Jewish guests” to shower before entering the pool and access a refrigerator at set times.

The posting of the signs generated a storm of criticism, including by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which had the hotel removed from the online reservations service, and by the Israel, whose deputy foreign minister, Tzipi Hotovely, said in a statement that the incident reflected the prevalence of anti-Semitic sentiments in Europe at large.

Deneys deleted his comment shortly after posting it and apologized for having written “nonsense,” the online edition of the Swiss Le Matin daily reported Thursday.

He told Le Matin he had reacted “too fast and stupidly” because he was angry at Hotovely for her “disingenuous reaction, in which she demanded apologies from Switzerland.” He added: “I had no intention of discriminating against the Jewish community.”

In a statement to the media, Hotovely’s office did not include a demand Swiss authorities apologize for the incident. She did however urge the prosecution of the person responsible for posting the signs. Her statement said that Israel’s ambassador to Switzerland requested the Swiss foreign ministry deplore the hotel staff’s actions.

Ruth Thomann, who runs the hotel, told JTA Monday that she removed the signs shortly after they were put up over the weekend. She said she meant no offense to Jews and that she merely sought to convey information relevant only to the Jewish guests.

Thomann said only the Jewish guests were entering the pool without showering first while wearing t-shirts and they alone were allowed, as a courtesy, to put food in the staff’s refrigerator.

“I may have selected the wrong words; the signs should have been addressed to all the guests instead of Jewish ones,” she added.

The sign about the pool read: “To our Jewish Guests: Please take a shower before you go swimming and although after swimming. If you break the rules, I’m forced to cloes the swimming pool for you.” [sic]

The sign about the refrigerator read: “To our Jewish guests: You are allowed to approach the fridge between the hours: 10.00-11.00 in the morning and 16.30-17.30 in the evening. I hope you understand that our team does not like to be disturbed every time.”