Swiss party calls for Jewish goods boycott

ZURICH — A right-wing party in Switzerland has called for an immediate boycott of "American and Jewish goods, restaurants and travel destinations."

The call by the Swiss Democratic Party came in the wake of a decision last week by U.S. public finance officials to lift a moratorium on sanctions against Switzerland's leading commercial banks after negotiations to settle claims over Holocaust-era bank deposits reached an impasse.

Israel's ambassador to Switzerland, Yitzhak Mayer, blasted the boycott call, saying it is more than an "inexcusable verbal escalation."

The call hearkens back to the "broken windows of Jewish shops" that took place when the Nazis rose to power and that were the "prologue to the tragedy of the Holocaust," Mayer said.

Swiss President Flavio Cotti refused to condemn the boycott call as anti-Semitic, saying only that boycotts were a poor way to resolve the ongoing dispute regarding Holocaust-era assets.

Thomas Lyssy, vice president of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Switzerland, charged that Cotti had "again missed the opportunity to condemn very clearly the anti-Semitism in this country."

An adviser to Cotti, who wanted to remain anonymous, said a "much stronger text" lashing out at the boycott call had been recommended to Cotti, but that he had rejected it.