February 08, 2008

Another bogus story of antisemitism?

Now what's all this about? I got an email from someone linking to a yahoo news report as follows:
Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2008.
Police in the medieval city of Bruges were investigating claims of anti-Semitism and racism against an 63-year-old American Jew during a visit to one of the city's popular market square cafe's, officials said Wednesday. Kalmann, on a two-day tourist visit to Bruges on Jan. 23, said he filed a complaint with local police alleging he faced abuse from a waiter because he was wearing a yarmulke.
Needless to say Engage, those online guardians against criticising Israel, woops, I mean antisemitism, have picked up on the story with a post to the Engage site by a Mira Vogel:
Here's what happened to an Orthodox Jewish man in Bruges recently. A rare occurence these days but I sometimes wonder, if more Jews in Europe wore badges of Jewishness - covered head, prayer shawl tassels showing, star of david &tc - would this kind of thing to be happening more often?
Anti-Semitism in Bruges
“We don’t serve Jews”

Bruges-Brussels – An American Jew was victim of Anti-Semitism in Bruges in a café (pub). When he wanted to file a complaint the police did not want to listen to him. That is what “Joods Actueel” (“Jewish Current”) writes in its issue of tomorrow.

Two weeks ago, the American professor Marcel Kalmann spent a few days is Bruges. After he went into a café, he took off his hat, and his kipah showed up. When the waiter saw this, he showed him the door: “We don’t serve Jews here, out”, the waiter is reported to have said.

Kalmann told his story in another café and then the police was called. He was advised to go to the police station. There he wanted to file a complaint in English, but that was refused.

“Joods Actueel” writes “The young police officer let him know that he did not believe his story and he refused to file the complaint in English”. Another officer confirmed that the American Professor had to make his declaration in Dutch. At the end, no complaint was filed, but there was a formal hearing.

The professor wants to file a complaint with the “Comité P”, the supervising body of the Belgian police. Patrick Moenaert, the mayor of Bruges, has ordered an investigation to find out what had exactly happened.

He apologises to Kalmann for any inappropriate behavior that does not fit with the city's vision openness and foreigner-friendliness. According to “Joods Actueel”, the tourist office of the city of Bruges plans to open a complaint procedure.
Hat tip: Marc Grajower, who translated from the original Flemish in De Standaard Online, 6th Feb 2008.
Now I had to get that from google's cache because if you go to the Engage site you get this:
We've removed this story for the moment because we've been informed that it isn't true.
I never knew that truth was an issue for Engage. Still this is a major advance on their flirtation with Richard Littlejohn when the airbrush was called into play.

But if you google the name Marcel Kalmann, you will find many stories on this going into a fair bit of detail as to what happened to the kippah wearing Mr Kalmann, right down to the price of his coffee. So which bit of the story isn't true? Of course, it could be that Dr Hirsh is being uncharacteristically cautious here and the story is true but needs a bit of checking, hence my question mark in the headline.

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