Belgian Jew hurt in Brussels attacks becomes Facebook ‘voice of the wounded’
search

Belgian Jew hurt in Brussels attacks becomes Facebook ‘voice of the wounded’

Walter Benjamin’s calls for reconciliation in aftermath of IS bombings that took his right foot have made into a national symbol

Brussels bombing survivor Walter Benjamin makes a phone call as he rests in his bed in Jette University Hospital in the city on Sunday, April 3, 2016 (AP Photo/Helene Franchineau)
Brussels bombing survivor Walter Benjamin makes a phone call as he rests in his bed in Jette University Hospital in the city on Sunday, April 3, 2016 (AP Photo/Helene Franchineau)

In a series of Facebook posts from his hospital bed, a Belgian Jew has documented his recovery from the Brussels terrorist attacks — and become a national symbol of resilience and reconciliation.

Walter Benjamin lost his right foot in the March 22 explosion at Zaventem Airport, one of three suiciding bombings that rocked the Belgian capital that day, killing 32 people and wounding more than 300. His Facebook posts have since been shared thousands of times.

Belgian dignitaries such as King Philippe, Chief Rabbi Albert Guigui and national Muslim board president Salah Echallaoui have visited him in the hospital.

The religious leaders together visited Benjamin on April 3 in response to a call he made on Facebook for unity and reconciliation between the Jewish and Muslim communities of Belgium. Benjamin has also been interviewed by the RTBF Belgian broadcaster, Israel’s Channel 2 news and The Associated Press, which called him “the voice of the wounded.”

A toutes les mauvaises langues voilà ma reponse! 󾮗Walter Benjamin

Posted by Walter Benjamin on Friday, 8 April 2016

Benjamin, a 47-year-old matchmaker for a dating agency, was on his way to visit his 16-year-old daughter in Israel when he was hit by the second of two explosions at the airport. The Islamic State claimed credit for the attack.

Along with chronicling his convalescence, Benjamin has since criticized the government’s failure to prevent the attacks but expressed confidence in Belgian society’s ability to transcend them.

People gather to observe a minute of silence in memory of the victims of the Brussels airport and metro bombings, on the Place de la Bourse in central Brussels, on March 23, 2016, a day after the triple blasts killed some 30 people and left around 250 injured. (AFP/Belga/AURORE BELOT)
People gather to observe a minute of silence in memory of the victims of the Brussels airport and metro bombings, on the Place de la Bourse in central Brussels, on March 23, 2016, a day after the triple blasts killed some 30 people and left around 250 injured. (AFP/Belga/AURORE BELOT)

“Together, we will labor so that our two communities will move things toward a unified Belgium,” he wrote about Belgian Jews and Muslims.

Benjamin wrote his life was saved by Belgians who make up a portrait of “our beautiful country,“ including a Muslim airport technician, Hassan Elouafi, who let Benjamin call his mother immediately after the attack to tell her he was alive; a Flemish soldier who stopped Benjamin’s bleeding, and an ambulance crew paramedic, Louis, who got Benjamin to the hospital on time and kept him conscious by talking to him all the way.

C'est parce qu'Hassan et moi nous Aimons notre pays la Belgique que nous allons unir nos forces Ensemble pour faire…

Posted by Walter Benjamin on Friday, 8 April 2016

Join us!
A message from the Editor of Times of Israel
David Horovitz

The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.

We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.

Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.

Become a member of The Times of Israel Community
read more:
comments