German Jewish Singer Gil Ofarim Sticks by Antisemitism Allegations Despite Local Prosecutor’s Skepticism
Gil Ofarim, the German Jewish singer who accused a hotel in the city of Leipzig of antisemitic discrimination in an incident that electrified the German media last October, is sticking by his story despite the conclusion of prosecutors that he presented a false account of what occurred.
Speaking to the German current affairs program “Zapp” on Thursday, Ofarim’s lawyer, Markus Henig, replied “you can assume that,” when asked whether his client maintained that he was refused service at the check-in desk at the Westin Hotel in Leipzig because he was wearing a Star of David necklace.
In an emotional video that quickly went viral after the Oct. 5 incident, Ofarim shared details of his alleged encounter with hotel staff, which he said left him “speechless,” while sitting outside the hotel’s entrance. He recounted that he was waiting in a long line at the hotel reception because computers at the check-in counter were down.
“I was standing in the queue wearing my necklace which is my right and which I have worn all my life,” he said, holding up his Star of David pendant. Ofarim went onto claim that guests standing behind him in the line were served before him, and that when he asked why, a member of staff told him, “pack up your star and then you can check in.”
However, CCTV footage of the hotel’s reception area showed that Ofarim had not been visibly wearing the necklace. At the end of March, prosecutors announced that Ofarim was himself facing charges of defamation and libel as a consequence of his allegations.
While Ofarim’s original complaint had targeted a specific member of staff whom he accused of discrimination, Henig insisted that the singer’s goal was to highlight rising antisemitism in Germany.
“Mr. Ofarim was not originally concerned with making a single person responsible here, but with drawing attention to something that happened to him, something he considers unacceptable in today’s world,” Henig said. He added that he hoped Ofarim would be acquitted of the libel charges he is facing.
The program also heard from the Westin’s manager, Andreas Hachmeister, who said that following the incident, “my life changed.”
Hachmeister said that the angry reaction to Ofarim’s allegations “wasn’t a sh*t storm, it was a hurricane.” Hundreds of furious phone calls had been received by the hotel, he said. “Of course, that does something to you,” he commented.