Luxury Berlin hotel denies erasing Israel from phonebook

French filmaker Claude Lanzmann has claimed that a luxury hotel in Berlin deliberately leaves the Israeli dialling code out of its directory for the sake of its Arab clients.

Luxury Berlin hotel denies erasing Israel from phonebook
Claude Lanzmann. Photo: DPA

On Tuesday filmmaker Lanzmann was staying in a hotel belonging to the Kempinski group near Kurfürstendamm in the west of the capital.

The Jewish director who shot the 1985 documentary “Shoah” leafed through the services offered by the hotel. Whilst looking up the international dialling codes, he noticed that the Israeli code did not appear in the hotel list.

Lanzmann wrote an editorial that came out on Thursday in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and in the French daily “Le Figaro”, claiming that the Hotel Bristol had intentionally left Israel out to accommodate the sensibilities of its Middle Eastern clients.

In the article the filmmaker claimed to have inquired about it to one of the hotel staff, who replied that Arab clients had specifically urged the hotel not to put the Israeli dialling code in its list.  

Lanzmann explained that he wrote the piece to help himself understand what had happened and inform other people about the experience he went through.

“One cannot fight against Arab terrorism and at the same time allow Israel to be eradicated at one of the noblest and most important hotels in Berlin,” he wrote.

He described the event as of particular significance because it happened in the same hotel where he stayed for the first time in 1986 to present “Shoah” to the Berlin Film Festival.

But the hotel responded by saying that the dialling code directory only includes the names of 35 countries, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reports.

“There is no instruction on the part of the hotel management or from the Kempinski Group to take the Israeli dialing code out of the telephone directory,” a statement pubslihed by the company stated.

The director of the hotel, Birgitt Ullerich, told the Associated Press that Israel’s omission from the dialling code list was “was simply an oversight.”
The Associated Press also reported that Frank Henkel, Berlin's interior minister, had urged the hotel to verify Lanzmann’s allegations.