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March 31, 2016 6:12 pm

Belgian Call Center Fires Employee for Denying Israel’s Existence During Conversation With Jewish Volunteer Following ISIS Bombings

avatar by Ruthie Blum

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The Brussels airport, following one of the explosions. Photo: Twitter.

The Brussels airport, following the attacks. Photo: Twitter.

A European call center issued a public apology on Thursday, after a report in the Belgian press revealed that an employee at its Brussels branch had denied the existence of Israel during a phone conversation with a Jewish volunteer from Antwerp trying to arrange the return home of two Israelis wounded in last week’s terrorist attacks on the city’s airport.

According to the report, in the Belgian monthly Jood Actueel, the IPG Action Crisis Center employee insisted on calling Israel “Palestine,” and the “occupation.”

IPG said it “profoundly regrets” the incident, announcing that the offender’s job was “terminated with immediate effect.”

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Referring to the conversation as a “strictly isolated incident,” IPG said that “goes against all [its] values and rules of conduct.”

Moreover, the incident sharply contrasts with the excellent dedication shown by our crisis center teams, who have answered thousands of calls, day and night. We are very grateful for their commitment. IPG apologizes to all who may have been offended by the acts of our former employee. IPG would like to take this opportunity to express our deepest sympathy to all the victims of the tragic events of last week in Brussels, as well as their relatives.

Both the recording and transcript of the phone call in question appeared in the article. The latter is as follows:

Volunteer: Good afternoon, my name is X, I am a volunteer in the Jewish coordination committee of Antwerp. We are contacted by persons… we have 2 persons of the Jewish community that were hurt in the attacks in the airport.

Crisis Center: Yes sir.

X: They are prepared to be transported back to Israel. Our volunteers are busy with it and take care of everything, but we received information from the hospital that we need special papers from the police that they can be released. Is this correct and to who should we ask that? Can you tell me more about that?

CC: That is effectively.. I will take a look. So … they go back to Palestine.

X: Not Palestine, Israel.

CC: Yes, but that was before Palestine, of course. OK.

X: Could you repeat that again, please? What is the name?

CC: That … Palestine.

X: Can I get your name, please?

CC: Of course, Zakaria.

X: And you know only Palestine?

CC: Sorry?

X: You don’t know Israel, only Palestine?

CC: I know the Jews went there, that Palestine received them and that there is a war between Israel and Palestine, of course. And the occupation… that’s what’s on the news, of course.

X: Can you help me with the question I have, or not?

CC: Naturally, of course. Thus they go back to Palestine and ask that they could get an attestation. Voila, it is noted.

X: Can I have you name again, I didn’t understand it well.

CC: Zakaria.

X: Zakaria?

CC: That is correct.

X: Zakaria what? What is your last name?

CC: I am not obliged to give it.

X: OK.

X: Thank you very much.

The suicide attacks in Brussels took place on the morning of March 22, when three coordinated bombs were detonated, two at the airport in Zaventem, and one at the Maalbeek metro station. Thirty-two people were killed in the ISIS-perpetrated attacks, not including the three terrorists, and more than 300 people were wounded. The event was said to be the deadliest terrorist attack in Belgium’s history.

The English translation of the call center phone conversation was provided by pro-Israel blogger Elder of Ziyon.

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  • Paul Taalman

    I find it interesting that the call centre had the cojones to fire the employee. While we all know that Islam wants not only the destruction of Israel but all the Western world we don’t like offending the people who want to kill us all as if that will stop their murderous ways. Albert Einstein once said; The definition of insanity is being nice over and over again to people who hate you and expecting them to be nice back…

  • Chris

    Maybe he only wants to call it by its historical names like Canaan, Phoenicia, or Syria Palestina

  • Reform School

    A senior job at the U.S. Embassy probably awaits Zackaria.

  • Leo Toystory

    Fired isn’t enough.

  • Before the name of Israel,it was called Palestine and it’s flag had a Star of David In the center. And before the name Palestine it was called Israel and Judea . The caller should have informed the call centre operator, we should be prepared for an informed answer just for such situations..

  • John Doogle

    Somebody seriously got fired for this?? Unless this person did not fulfill their actual job requirements who the hell cares what they call that place. Would anyone care if it was any other place? Probably not.

    • Robert

      Sorry. Her job is to handle the call. It is not to interject politics into the situation. And if she doesn’t know there is a country called Israel she shouldn’t be working there.

  • nat cheiman

    Zakaria sounds ignorant. Has he never heard of the 6 day war when Israel whipped butt? Does he know that it was his ilk that were responsible for the terrorist attacks in Brussels?
    Of course not. The authorities should send him back to palestine or wherever that may be.

  • As usual, for politically driven bigotry to survive, ignorance must thrive first. Otherwise, the worker at the call centre would know that the name Palestine was a constructed name by the Romans, renaming Judea in 132 AD.

  • Mayven

    Hopefully this individual in his infinite stupidity will find a promising job…working in a sewer where he truly belongs.
    Leopards never change their spots…

  • Mickey Oberman

    It is too bad more organizations of all kinds everywhere do not respond as quickly and as effectively as that call centre.

  • stevenl

    Belgian NGOS are vociferously anti-Israel. Not just Zakaria!

  • Luigi Rosolin

    In recent TV news in AU or IT is reported that personal, at the airport in Belgium, had complain in regards of inesistente security as people are working there, that come from or had travel to Syria and are sympathetic to ISIS -Daesh. Specifically the employer there are worry that worker there are probably not scrutinay and dangerous.

  • anon

    What Muslims (like Zakariah) do not seem to understand is that if all Jews must be held responsible for the alleged sins of Israel than she, Zakariah, is equally responsible for the Brussels attack. She cannot take the moral high ground with any random Jew.

  • Myron Slater

    Typical thinking, that’s the way they think, if they think at all!

  • Jack HOLAN

    Zakaria had to have wanted to be terminated. No one can be stupid enough to think there wou be a different outcome. I give the volunteer 1000% for keeping cool and staying focused on his mission getting the wounded couple home to Israel.

  • Lia

    Thank you, IPG. Thank you, Mr Elder of Ziyon. Our prayers with and for all wounded and the relatives and loved ones of the dead and injured.

  • Linda

    Insensitive at best and a happy result. Thanks Belgium for firing the operator! Israel and Belgium unity!

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