A Flemish doctor who manned a medical hotline Wednesday night refused to provide help to a 90-year-old Jewish woman, Bertha Klein, who had suffered a fractured rib. "I'm not coming!” he said. “Send her to Gaza for a few hours, and she will not feel the pain anymore," was the reply.
The doctor confirmed the exchange, and said that he had spoken the way he did out of "emotional frenzy.” The Health Ministry is investigating the matter, according to Joods Actueel (Jewish News).
Klein's son had been the one to call the hotline. His mother was in agonizing pain after she had suffered a fractured rib. The doctor reportedly knew very quickly that the patient was Jewish: her name, her son's accent and her address in Antwerp, Belgium's second-largest Jewish commmunity, betrayed all that.
Shocked by the doctor's response, the family phoned a friend, Samuel Markowitz, who is an alderman of the Antwerp district council and a volunteer paramedic. Markowitz called the hotline himself and confronted the doctor over his statements.
The doctor admitted the facts and blamed "emotional frenzy.” Meanwhile, the grandson of the 90-year-old woman, Hershy Taffel, filed a complaint with the police for racism and xenophobia.
Taffel says his grandmother burst into tears. "This reminds me of what we underwent in Europe 70 years ago, I never thought that day would ever be repeated," she said.
Michael Freilich, editor of Joods Actueel, is concerned that the Middle East conflict is being imported into Belgium.
"This is yet another incident in a row of similar events tha took place in a short period of time,” he elabotared. A shop in Antwerp refused to serve a woman because she was Jewish, a cafe in Liege has a sign hung with the message 'dogs welcome, Jews are not', in Brussels slogans like 'Death to the Jews' were chanted during a demonstration and on Facebook, we see calls of hatred against the Jewish people every day.”
Freilich went on to tell his readers: “Let me repeat for the umpteenth time: Belgian Jews are NOT Israelis! They merely have an emotional bond with that country but have no influence on the conflict. They do not vote in Israel, do not go to the army and pay no taxes there.
He added: “Any form of racism and anti-Semitism must be condemned by politicians vigorously. It's long overdue, I think.”