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German Jewish singer files suit over antisemitic hotel claim

October 8, 2021

An alleged antisemitic incident at a hotel in eastern Germany sparked outrage earlier in the week. Now the affected singer has said he will press charges.

Gil Ofarim
The subject of Ofarim's claim has already filed charges against him for libelImage: dpa/picture alliance

Gil Ofarim, a German Jewish singer who said he was told to take off his Star of David pendant in order to be served at a hotel in the eastern German city of Leipzig, is planning on taking legal action against the hotel, his management said on Friday.

Ofarim, who lives in the southern city of Munich, will "not only testify as a witness to the police in Munich on Tuesday but will also file charges personally, for all possible offenses," his manager, Yvonne Probst, told the Bild newspaper.

The singer shared a video on social media on Tuesday in which he said a worker at the hotel told him to take off his Star of David pendant before being allowed to check in.

The video sparked outrage across Germany and among Jewish groups.

Various lawsuits in the works

The employee who is the subject of Ofarim's accusation has denied the singer's version of events and has brought charges against the singer for libel and threatening behavior because of the threatening messages he has since received over social media.

The hotel worker described the incident "in a clearly different way from the comments of the artist," Leipzig police spokesman Olaf Hoppe said.

The public prosecutor's office also received a complaint against the hotel employee from a third party who was not involved, for incitement of hatred. They are already investigating the incident.

The Westin hotel has suspended two employees for the duration of the investigation and has sought legal advice over the accusations of antisemitism that were leveled against it. An external law firm plans to investigate and evaluate the statements from witnesses and other guests.

Protesters outside the Westin Leipzig hotel holding a banner that reads "Against all antisemitism"
Anti-fascists organized protests at the Westin Leipzig hotel after the incident went publicImage: Dirk Knofe/dpa/picture alliance

Who is Gil Ofarim?

Ofarim, who describes himself as a "secular Jew," said he had been in Leipzig for a shoot. He is the son of Israeli music legend Abi Ofarim, but he grew up in Germany.

"I am speechless, I don't know what to say," he said in the video after the incident.

He continued with an emotional account of how he had been standing in line to check in at the hotel, but was constantly ignored and finally told to remove his Star of David pendant if he wanted to be served.

ab/msh (dpa, AFP, EPD)