Westin Hotel in Germany Accused of Discriminating Against Jewish Singer Hired Neo-Nazi Security Firm to Guard Against Demonstrators
In a bizarre twist in the case of Gil Ofarim — the popular German-Jewish singer who alleged that he was refused service at the Westin Hotel in the city of Leipzig unless he removed his Star of David necklace — local media outlets revealed on Friday that the hotel’s management hired a security firm with extensive neo-Nazi links to stand guard outside the building during a rally to protest the musician’s treatment.
The Westin deployed security guards from the Leipzig company Pro GSL Security at Tuesday night’s rally in solidarity with Ofarim, attended by more than 600 people. No violence or arrests were reported at the event.
Local reporters covering the rally were already familiar with the company because of the participation of its managing directors and some employees in the Leipzig far-right and neo-Nazi scene.
Following Tuesday night’s rally, Pro GSL posted a photo on its Facebook page of two of its directors and three employees standing outside the Westin, alongside a message declaring that the hotel building had been “secured quickly!” The photo has since been deleted.
One of the Pro GSL directors featured in the photo, named as Tobias B., was convicted in April this year to an 11 month suspended sentence and a 2,500 euro fine for participating in a violent rampage through Leipzig’s hipster Connewitz neighborhood in Aug. 2016. More than 250 neo-Nazi thugs smashed shop windows, demolished cars and set off an explosive device outside a kebab restaurant during the riot.
The second director in the photo, named as Oliver R., was photographed on multiple occasions acting as a steward on demonstrations staged by Legida, a hardline breakaway group from the anti-Islamic, anti-immigrant Pegida movement. His past business partners are reported to include Ralph Marschner, a neo-Nazi with ties to far-right terrorists now understood to be living in Switzerland.
The manager of the Westin Hotel, Andreas Hachmeister, attempted to distance himself from Pro GSL Security in an interview with local radio station MDR on Friday. Hachmeister claimed that the security company had been hired “at short notice,” adding that this was the first time that Pro GSL had been contracted by the Westin. He also claimed that Pro GSL would not be hired again.
Following Ofarim’s Instagram video recounting his treatment at the Westin on Monday night, Hachmeister went on the offensive, telling the German news magazine Spiegel on Thursday that he had the statement of a witness who sharply contradicted Ofarim’s version of events.
However, on Friday afternoon, Marriott International — the parent company of Westin Hotels — issued a statement confirming that it had reached out to Ofarim “to express how deeply sorry we are for his experience.”
In a statement shared with The Algemeiner, a Marriott spokesperson said that the company took “this matter extremely seriously” and pledged to “support the police investigation into this incident.
Noting that the Westin in Leipzig is run by a “third-party hotel operator,” the spokesperson said that Marriott had been advised “that its employee involved in this matter has been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.”
“Marriott International is committed to welcoming all,” the spokesperson continued. “We condemn antisemitism in all its forms and any discrimination whether it be based on race, gender, religion, sexual orientation or abilities.” The spokesperson added that Marriott was collaborating with “global advocacy organizations focused on combatting discrimination and hate” on diversity training for its employees.