The Brussels terror attacks which killed 35 people earlier this month also injured hundreds more – among them many foreign citizens, including several Israelis.
But when a Jewish volunteer called up the Belgian government's Crisis Center to arrange flying the Israeli victims home, the operator – who identified himself only by the Arabic first name Zakaria – chose to inform him that Israel doesn't exist, and insisted the victims should be sent to "Palestine."
The shocking incident, along with an audio recording of the conversation, was published in the Belgian Jewish monthly Joods Actueel.
An English transcript of the conversation can be read below, courtesy of the New Anti Semite anti-hate blog.
XXX: Good afternoon, my name is XXX, I am a volunteer in the Jewish coordination committee of Antwerp. We are contacted by persons… we have 2 persons of the Jewish community that were hurt in the attacks in the airport
Crisis Centre: Yes sir
XXX: They are prepared to be transported back to Israel. Our volunteers are busy with it and take care of everything but we received information from the hospital that we need special papers from the police that they can be released. Is this correct and to who should we ask that? Can you tell me more about that?
CC: That is effectively.. I will take a look. So … they go back to Palestine.
XXX: Not Palestine, Israel.
CC: Yes, but that was before Palestine, of course. OK
XXX: Could you repeat that again, please? What is the name?
CC: That … Palestine.
XXX: Can I get your name, please?
Cc: Of course, Zakaria.
XXX: And you know only Palestine?
XXX: You don’t know Israel, only Palestine?
CC: I know the Jews went to there, that Palestine received (opvangen) them and that there is a war between Israel and Palestine, of course. And the occupation… that’s what's on the news of course.
XXX: Can you help me with the question I have, or not?
CC: Naturally, of course. Thus they go back to Palestine and ask that they could get an attestation. Voila, it is noted.
XXX: Can I have you name again, I didn’t understand it well.
CC: That is correct.
XXX: Zakaria what? What is your last name?
CC: I am not obliged to give it.
XXX; Thank you very much.
CC: You're welcome. Bye
Belgium, like neighboring France, has seen a rapid rise in anti-Semitism over the past decade, emanating largely from the country's growing Muslim population.
Graphic illustration of similar such virulently anti-Israel sentiment was also evidenced in several incidents in which Muslim passersby attempted to remove and destroy Israeli flags placed at the memorial to the victims of the attacks. In one such incident, other bystanders intervened to protect the flag.