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October 7, 2021 2:37 pm
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German Foreign Minister Lambasts Alleged Antisemitic Insult to Jewish Singer

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avatar by Sharon Wrobel

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas gives a statement ahead of a virtual meeting of EU foreign ministers at the foreign ministry in Berlin, Germany, May 18, 2021. Markus Schreiber/Pool via REUTERS

German foreign minister Heiko Maas uttered an appeal for society to join forces to combat antisemitism after a popular German-Jewish singer-songwriter was allegedly turned away from a hotel because he was visibly wearing a Star of David pendant on a chain around his neck.

Speaking at the ceremony for the Shimon Peres Award 2021 for German-Israel cooperation, Maas stressed that he was “stunned” by the antisemitic insult Gil Ofarim had to experience. Earlier this week, Ofarim posted a video on Instagram in which he reported that he had been turned away from the Westin Hotel in the German city of Leipzig as he tried to check in.

“This is the antisemitism many Jews are exposed to in our country every day. Leipzig is not an isolated case. It is all the more important that we oppose antisemitism,” Maas exclaimed. “Society needs to join forces in the fight against antisemitism. We can’t look the other way when someone is insulted in an antisemitic manner. It is up to all of us to speak out loud and clear. Antisemitism has no place in our country.”

Maas added that the federal government of Germany plans to spend more than 1 billion euros in the fight against right-wing extremism, racism, and antisemitism.

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The Combat Antisemitism Movement thanked Maas for condemning the “ugly antisemitic behavior” against Ofarim.

“Antisemitism is rising in Germany at alarming levels. It must not be tolerated in any way, history must not repeat itself,” the statement read.

Following the incident, the Marriott group, which owns the global Westin hotel chain, began an internal investigation and has placed the two employees at the center of the allegations on leave. One of the employees is reported to have filed a complaint with local police for defamation and receipt of threats after he gave a “very different” account of the encounter with Ofarim, according to the Leipzig police.

In addition, the police and the public prosecutors’ office have opened investigations into the incident.

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