Arosa. Photo: Stephen Colebourne/Flickr
Visitors to Arosa’s Aparthaus Paradies shocked to discover anti-Semitic notices, which have now been removed
Another sign, this one on the 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.”
While guests said they were horrified by the signs and Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely in a statement expressed her outrage at the situation, the hotel said it was a misunderstanding and there was no anti-Semitic intent at all.
“It was very strange and the sort of anti-Semitic incident we have not been exposed to before,” she said.“Everyone had been very nice to us; suddenly we came down and saw the sign, we were in shock,”
Hotovely called the incident “an anti-Semitic act of the worst and ugliest kind.”
Hotovely also said she had spoken with Israel’s ambassador to Switzerland, Jacob Keidar, who confirmed that the signs had been removed. The ambassador said he had spoken with the Swiss Foreign Ministry about the incident.
Hotovely said 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.
Ruth Thomann, the manager of the hotel, confirmed the signs had now been removed. She insisted that many Jews visit the hotel, particularly at this time of year, and they are very welcome.
The hotel was popular with ultra-Orthodox Jewish guests from around the world because it was usually very accommodating to their needs.
The hotel managements said, it meant no harm by the signs. “There was no anti-Semitic intent and the signs were removed,” it said. “We have no problem with Jewish guests at the hotel.”
The hotel explained 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.”
Taxi drivers across Switzerland will stage a mass demonstration against rival Uber next Tuesday.
Traffic will be disrupted in Geneva, Lausanne, Basel and Zurich on Tuesday between 11.45am and 1.30pm as licensed taxi drivers protest against the low-cost UberPop ride-sharing system, reported 20 Minutes.
The Californian company has been a thorn in the side of professional taxi drivers across the world since it launched back in 2010.
Launched in Zurich in 2013 and now also available in Lausanne, Geneva and Basel, Uber uses location technology to connect riders with private car drivers by means of an app.
Rides are often cheaper than traditional taxi services and drivers need not be accredited taxi drivers.
Budget version UberPop allows ordinary drivers to essentially become taxi drivers using their own car.
The service operates in a grey area where Swiss legislation is concerned, leading many licensed taxi drivers in the country object to it, saying it breaks regulations.
Speaking to 20 Minutes, a professional taxi driver in Lausanne, Daniel Kamponis, said Tuesday’s demonstration aimed to show people what Uber hides behind its low prices.
“UberPop doesn’t respect the law because it transports people without authorization and its drivers do not have the required permits.”
Their anger is exacerbated by the fact that Uber is becoming very popular with the public in Switzerland.
In March Uber’s head of French-speaking Switzerland, Steve Salom, told newspaper 24 Heures that the company was doubling the number of clients it has in Switzerland every six months.
Since it launched in Geneva in September 2014 the service has gained 100,000 users, he said, with figures similarly high in Lausanne and Zurich.
Another Lausanne taxi driver told 20 Minutes she is losing half her business to Uber on nights and weekends, and said professionals can’t compete with Uber’s marketing budget.
“Public authorities must react and make them respect the rules, because with its money, Uber thinks it’s above the law,” she told the paper.
But Salom said the anger of Swiss taxi drivers was misdirected.
Taxi drivers could benefit by driving for Uber themselves, he told 24 Heures, but taxi firms prevent them from doing so.
However it is currently allowed to operate under certain conditions while legal proceedings are ongoing, Salom told 24 Heures.
Meanwhile, Geneva’s parliament is currently debating a transport bill which, if passed, would allow the company to operate legally in the city.
Switzerland isn’t the only country to battle against Uber.
On Wednesday the company said it would suspend its UberPop service in two Swedish cities after several of its drivers were deemed by a court as acting illegally.
The American company has also been forced to suspend services in Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium and France, where French taxi drivers were demanding 100 million dollars in compensation.
Apparently, this goes beyond the great taste of Swiss chocolate. Switzerland is the happiest country in the world, according to a global ranking of happiness unveiled by the United Nations in New York on Thursday.
The 2015 World Happiness Report is the third annual report seeking to quantify happiness as a means of influencing government policy.
Switzerland takes over top spot from Denmark, ranked first in the last edition of the study first published by the UN in 2012, and now demoted to third.
Iceland ranked second, while Norway came fourth followed by Canada, Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden, New Zealand and Australia in the top ten.
Small or medium-sized countries in Western Europe accounted for seven of the top ten happiest countries.
To rate happiness in different countries, academics identified such variables as real GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on, perceived freedom to make life choices, freedom from corruption and generosity.
These are all areas that Switzerland scored highly in, after coming third in the previous Happiness Report issued in 2013.
Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and one of the editors, said the top 13 countries were the same a second year running although their order had shifted.
They combined affluence with strong social support, and relatively honest and accountable governments, he told a news conference.
“Countries below that top group fall short, either in income or in social support or in both,” Sachs explained.
The United States trails in 15th place, behind Israel and Mexico, with Britain at 21, pipped by Belgium and the United Arab Emirates.
France ranks number 29, behind Germany in 26th place.
Afghanistan and war-torn Syria joined eight sub-Saharan countries in Africa — Togo, Burundi, Benin, Rwanda, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Guinea and Chad — as the ten least happy of 158 countries.
Despite the conflict raging in Iraq, that country was ranked 112, ahead of South Africa, India, Kenya and Bulgaria.
The 166-page report was edited by Sachs, John Helliwell of the University of British Columbia in Canada and Richard Layard from the London School of Economics.
“One of our very strong recommendations is that we should be using measurements of happiness . . . to help guide the world during this period of the new sustainable development goals,” Sachs said.
Iceland, Ireland and Japan resilient
The report would be distributed widely at the United Nations and closely read by governments around the world, he said.
“We want this to have an impact, to put it straight forwardly, on the deliberations on sustainable development because we think this really matters,” Sachs said.
Besides money, the report emphasized fairness, honesty, trust and good health as determinants, saying that economic crisis or natural disaster themselves did not necessarily crush happiness.
Iceland and Ireland were the best examples, the report found, of how to maintain happiness through resilient social support despite the severity of banking collapses during the financial crisis.
The Fukushima region of Japan also saw “increased trust and happiness” after the 2011 earthquake by allowing people to build their mutual dependence and cooperative capacities, it said.
On the other hand, recession-hit Greece was the “biggest happiness loser,” down almost 1.5 points from 2005-2007 to 2012-2014, and where data points to the erosion of trust, it said.
They said more and more governments are listening and responding with policies that put well-being first.
Political consensus in Britain, Layard said, had fueled “a major transformation” in mental health services to give evidence-based treatment to 500,000 people with 50 percent recovery rates.
But he singled out German Chancellor Angela Merkel as “the most interesting world leader” in responding to happiness data.
He praised her for initiating a grass roots project “of very great importance” that seeks to find out “what people want to see changing in order that their well-being might change.”
A positive outlook during childhood also lays the foundation for greater happiness during adulthood, the report found.
“We must invest early on in the lives of our children so that they grow to become independent, productive and happy adults, contributing both socially and economically,” Layard said.
The sexed-up Swiss willingly accepted to pay the penalty there and then, which meant it was reduced by half. Photo: German Lama/AFP
Three married Swiss couples who were having sex in a van when their driver was stopped by Ibiza,Spain policemen have been fined for not wearing their seatbelts.
A routine breathalyzer test on the Spanish party island of Ibiza didn’t go as expected for officers who stopped a van in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
The driver wasn’t speeding, nor had he drunk a single drop of alcohol; but he was carrying six half-naked people having sex in the back of the van.
Rather than caution them for public indecency, officers decided to fine each of them €200 ($270) for not wearing their seat belts.
The Swiss couples willingly accepted to pay the penalty there and then, which meant it was reduced by half.
Officers said they’d already apprehended people having sex in a car but never before had they come across anyone doing it in a moving vehicle.