New video appears to challenge singer’s claim of anti-Semitism in German hotel
New images released by German newspaper Bild raised questions on Sunday over an Israeli-German musician’s claim he was denied service at a hotel for wearing a Star of David necklace.
In the Leipzig hotel security footage, the collar does not appear to be visible around Gil Ofarim’s neck.
Ofarim posted a video on social media earlier this month, in which he accused the Westin Leipzig of denying him service because he was wearing a Star of David necklace. The video, which he titled “Anti-Semitism in Germany 2021” in capital letters, has gone viral, with anti-Semitism watchdogs and others widely sharing it.
“I’m speechless,” Ofarim said in the video, in which he can be clearly seen wearing the Star of David pendant.
German media reported on Sunday, however, that police had “serious doubts” about Ofarim’s account and that surveillance footage from the hotel appeared to show that he did not have a Star of David around his neck when. ‘he tried to check in at the hotel.
Additionally, the Bild newspaper reported that during a police statement, Ofarim said he did not recall whether he was wearing the Star of David chain at the time, although in his Instagram video he did claimed he was.
Der Musiker Gil Ofarim (vorbestraft wegen Körperverletzung) hat sich die ganze Geschichte über einen antisemitischen Rauswurf wegen seines Davidsterns offenbar nur ausgedacht. Auf einem Überwachungsvideo ist zu sehen, dass er diesen im Hotel überhaupt nicht getragen hat. pic.twitter.com/DA0Jzujhge
– Gegenmeinung ???????? (@GegenmeinungX) October 16, 2021
After queuing to check in, Ofarim said he asked why other people who arrived after him were admitted before him. According to Ofarim, another customer responded by telling him to “remove the star”. At least one employee then told Ofarim he had to remove the pendant to get service, the singer said.
The employee, described by Ofarim as the “check-in desk manager”, and whom he identified only as “MW”, told him: “Put your star away. [of David.]”
Ofarim, who looked visibly distraught, said he had carried the star all his “life”.
At least 600 people, some of them carrying signs with a Star of David and the Muslim crescent, showed up at the hotel that night, the Leipziger Zeitung reported. Protesters accused hotel staff of anti-Semitism.
A spokesperson for Westin Leipzig, which is owned by the multinational Marriott, told DPA, a German publication at the time, that the hotel was “deeply concerned” and was taking the matter “extremely seriously”.
The Central Council of Jews in Germany said in a statement it was “shocked” by what it called anti-Semitic behavior at the hotel. Leipzig is the largest city in Saxony, a region of Germany that is a stronghold of the country’s far-right political party, Alternative for Democracy, or AfD.
The American Jewish Committee, which tweeted Ofarim’s video with English subtitles, called the incident “heartbreaking.”
According to the AJC, an employee was suspended, but, according to the committee, “more must be done”.
He launched an online petition, “calling on Marriott not only to apologize, but to pledge to train its employees on anti-Semitism.”
The hotel employee accused of anti-Semitism is said to have filed a counter-complaint against Ofarim for defamation.