Call Failed: Luxury Berlin Hotel Denies Erasing Israel From In-House Phonebook

French director Claude Lanzmann poses with his honoury Golden Bear on the red carpet for the awards ceremony of the 63rd Berlinale Film Festival, in Berlin on February 16, 2013. AFP PHOTO / GERARD JULIEN (Photo credit should read GERARD JULIEN/AFP/Getty Images)

A luxury hotel in Berlin has been accused of erasing the Israel international dial codes from its in-house telephone directory. The allegation was made by French filmmaker Claude Lanzmann (pictured) who added that the omission was made for the sake of the hotel’s Arab clients.

Mr. Lanzmann,  the Jewish director who shot the 1985 Franco-British documentary “Shoah”, was a guest at the hotel on Tuesday. He said he was searching the international dialling codes in the directory supplied when he noticed that the Israeli 972 country code was absent.

The acclaimed director then wrote an editorial that appeared in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and in the French daily “Le Figaro”, claiming that the Hotel Bristol had intentionally left Israel out to mollify the delicate sensibilities of its Middle Eastern clients.

He wrote that he inquired about the omission and was told by one of the hotel staff that Arab clients had specifically urged the hotel not to put the Israeli code on its list.

“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.

Mr. Lanzmann described the event as being particularly poignant as it happened when he was staying at the hotel for the first time since he was there in 1986 to present “Shoah” to the Berlin Film Festival.

But the hotel, belonging to the Kempinski group near Kurfürstendamm in the west of the capital, denied any effort to isolate Israel from its guests. It said 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,” the company stated in a media release.

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.” Frank Henkel, Berlin’s interior minister, has since urged the hotel to verify Mr. Lanzmann’s allegations.

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.

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