French Jewish filmmaker Claude Lanzmann

Jewish Filmmaker Accuses Top Berlin Hotel of Removing Israel from Phone List

BERLIN (JTA) — Did a premier Berlin hotel cross Israel off its phone list? That’s what French Jewish filmmaker Claude Lanzmann claims.

His assertion has provoked a storm of controversy and drawn a firm denial from Hotel Bristol Kempinski.

Writing for the newspapers Le Figaro in Paris and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in Frankfurt, Lanzmann, the famed director of “Shoah” and other Holocaust-related documentaries, said he learned during a visit this month to the German capital that the five-star hotel had removed Israel’s 972 country code from the list provided to guests in their hotel rooms.

Lanzmann said a hotel employee who identified himself as Jewish told him that “most of our clients are Arabs” and that they had asked that Israel be taken off the list.

A Kempinski spokesperson told the German tabloid Bild on Thursday that the employee’s understanding was incorrect.

“There was and is no instruction from the hotel management, and not from the Kempinski AG parent company, to exclude Israel from the country code list,” the spokesperson said, adding that the phone list included only 35 countries. “Israel has now been added.

“If we hurt Mr. Lanzmann’s feelings with the omission of the Israeli country code, we sincerely ask for his forgiveness.”

In his Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung article, Lanzmann said he decided to describe his experience “to let readers know, and to challenge them to act now.”

“Because you can’t fight against Arab terrorism and at the same time accept the elimination of Israel from one of Berlin’s most prestigious, most important hotels,” he wrote. “To erase Israel is the same as demanding the erasure of Israelis. That they be killed.”

Reacting to Lanzmann’s report, the American Jewish Committee’s Berlin office said it hoped the assertion proved to have been mistaken.

“An Israeli country code in a telephone list has got to be just as normal as it is to hear Hebrew spoken on the streets here,” Deidre Berger, director of the office, said in a statement.

Meanwhile, so many reporters and politicians have bombarded the hotel with questions, it had to create a new list of phone numbers to call back.

Author

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

Jewish Filmmaker Accuses Top Berlin Hotel of Removing Israel from Phone List

Thank you!

This article has been sent!

Close