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Hotel Faces Backlash For Asking Jewish Guests to Shower

A hotel in the Swiss mountain resort of Arosa has drawn international outrage after they posted a sign instructing Jewish guests that they had to shower before using its swimming pool. The Paradies Arosa hotel is accused of anti-Semitism over the sign, which caused a heated stir when it was posted on Facebook. The sign was written by manager Ruth Thomann, read: “To our Jewish guests, women, men and children, please take a shower before you go swimming.” There was also another issue involving signs, the hotel and anti-semitism that made international headlines.

There was a sign on the refrigerator that read, "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." Thomann, denied she was anti-Semitic. She stated: “Actually, we have numerous Jewish guests and I noticed that a certain number don’t take a shower before going to swim." “Given that other guests asked me to do something, I naively wrote this poster,” she said. “I would have done better to address the poster at all the hotel’s clients.”

The hotel management told reporters that it had no intentional malicious intent by the signs. “There was no anti-Semitic intent and the signs were removed,” they said. “We have no problem with Jewish guests at the hotel.” The hotel continued to explain why, it said, the signs related specifically to Jews.

“The sign on the freezer was hung because only Jews used the workers’ refrigerator,” it said. “The sign regarding the showers was hung after two Jewish girls entered without taking a shower, ignoring a sign addressed to all guests. Therefore, a specific sign was hung to focus their attention on this.”

“I hope you understand that our team does not like being disturbed all the time,” the sign in question went on.

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In an effort to spin the situation, Swiss tourism spokesman Markus Berger deemed it an “unfortunate” and “isolated incident,” but continued that it “that doesn’t need for greater action to be taken,” according to The AP.

“It’s just this one lady at this one hotel who was not on top of the situation,” Berger said. The Israeli foreign minister is far from satisfied by what's being done, or should we say what is not being done. Tzipi Hotovely said the incident was "an anti-Semitic act of the worst and ugliest kind.” Although the hotel notified Israeli officials that the sign has been removed, Hotovely asked that Switzerland make a “formal condemnation” of the incident.

Hotovely also stated that removing the signs was not sufficient. “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,” she said.

For Shimon Samuels, the Wiesenthal Center's head of international relations, the language on the sign relied on age-old anti-Semitic caricatures, as well as Holocaust insults. As he told Agence France-Presse, “the reference to 'showers' can be construed as a patently vicious reference to the fake shower in the gas chambers.”

During the Holocaust, Jewish and other prisoners of Nazi concentration camps were often told that they needed to be disinfected at the “showers” after arriving by cattle car from elsewhere in Europe. The showers actually released poison gas — the Nazis' infamous instruments of mass murder.

Ruth Thomann, the hotel manager who signed both declarations, told Swiss media on Tuesday that she was not anti-Semitic. Speaking to Switzerland’s Blick newspaper, Thomann said that the Paradies was accommodating a large number of Jewish guests, some of whom — according to other guests — had not showered before using the pool. Other guests asked her to do something, Thomann said. Hence the sign.

The father who initially complained about the signs after visiting the hotel said, “We told her we are Jews, and she said that many Jews arrive during this period and gave us everything we need for the baby,” according to the news outlets. “No one addressed her because we didn’t want to start a confrontation,” the man noted.

Apparently the hotel is  popular with ultra-orthodox Jewish guests because it has been accommodating to their needs - which includes providing a freezer to store kosher food.

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