Tuesday, February 19, 2008

JTA and Haaretz [Among Others] Owe Us an Explanation on Supposed Antisemitic Incident in Belgium

Last week I posted a comment about an apparent antisemitic incident in Bruges, Belgium. It reported that an American professor had been thrown out of a famous cafe because he wore a kippah.

To add insult to injury, when he went to the police to report the incident the police refused to take the report in English.

Then serious question began to be raised about exactly what happened. The cafe owner said that this was NOT how the incident proceeded but that there had been a dispute about the cost of the cup of coffee.

I had some questions about the incident and expressed my reservations but still posted it without checking further. My mistake.

Then an energetic correspondent, Dan, began to barrage me with emails which are posted here both at the original story [which is no longer there] and at "About this Blog" suggesting I check further. He was right.

A number of sites, have removed the post. Others including YeshivahWorld News have posted the response of the cafe. The cafe argues that it was about the price of the coffee. If so, then the man could not have been thrown out, since he obviously was served the coffee.

This morning I checked and the original story is all over the internet.

Since both JTA and Haaretz were the prime English language sources for this story, they should be doing some checking and, if not true, issue a retraction.

There are enough real incidents of antisemitism around that we do not need to be reacting to incidents which are not real.


Esther said...


Please see my update on the story here, with more information about Kalmann.

My personal feeling is that he probably did meet antisemitism here, but not exactly as he portrayed it.

Deborah Lipstadt said...

I am having trouble getting to your update. Where did it appear?

Esther said...


It's on my blog. Please check

Deborah Lipstadt said...

Esther's update seems to be at: http://islamineurope.blogspot.com/2008/02/marcel-kalmann-story.html


Good post here, Deborah. You said it right: let's hope the news agencies issue correcetions soon, because yes, the original story is ALL over the Internet. Waiting for corrections.

Meanwhile, as you knom, the brother of Marcel Kalmann, named Daniel, has posted a post on your blog at another place, but so readers can view it here, in context, let me reprint it here, with * denoting emphasis for editors at JTA and Haaretz:

Daniel Kalmann said:

"Let me quickly shed some light on Marc Kalmann, my brother. He was born in 1948 in Amsterdam and *not* in Auschwitz in 1945. He lives in the Netherlands and is *fluent* in Dutch. He lived in the USA for 22 years and was *sometimes* employed as a *teacher* of languages at community colleges. He liked the title *professor* and has used it since. He tends to believe his own *fantasies*. I love him, but I am concerned that his fantasies *take over* his world. And through the magic of the Internet it is taking the world by storm. I wanted to set some part of the record straight. I have no knowledge of what did or did not happen at the restaurant in Bruges."