German Jewish singer-songwriter Gil Ofarim alleged that he was turned away from a hotel in the city of Leipzig because he was visibly wearing a Star of David pendant on a chain around his neck, drawing outrage from the Jewish community.
In a moving Instagram video posted on Monday night, sitting on the stairs leading to the Westin Leipzig Hotel, Ofarim shared details of his experience, which he said left him “speechless.”
Ofarim recounted that he was waiting in a long line at the hotel 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, 39, observed that guests in the same line were moved up in front of him to check-in and he didn’t understand why. After nearly an hour, he finally got to the counter and asked the reception clerk why he was left waiting while other guests were repeatedly brought forward.
The clerk answered “to straighten the queue,” Ofarim said.
“I was also standing in line,” the musician countered.
“Then out of a corner someone says ‘pack up your star’ [referencing the Star of David pendant]. Next, the reception clerk says ‘pack up your star and then you can check-in,’” Ofarim recalled. The Munich-born singer is the son of Israeli pop star Abi Ofarim, who had several hit singles in the 1960s with his first wife Esther.
Following the incident, Ofarim wrote in a Facebook post: “Haven’t we learned anything from the past? I’m speechless! … this is not the first time, but now it’s enough.”
Condemning the incident, Josef Schuster, President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, asked, “Where were the other people in the queue in front of the reception who stood by Gil Ofarim’s side? Why didn’t anyone protest?”
“The antisemitic hostility against Gil Ofarim is terrifying. This is the everyday antisemitism to which Jews are repeatedly exposed,” Schuster added. “It can only be hoped that the Westin draws necessary personnel consequences. I also hope that we will be met with solidarity in the future if we are attacked.”
Germany’s Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency (FADA) commented, “This is an incredible case of antisemitism and represents a violation of the AGG [General Equal Treatment Act]. A fast response from the hotel is long overdue. From our point of view, this cannot remain without consequences.”
The German Union of Jewish Students (JSUD) also called for consequences to be drawn from the incident. “It is enough. We don’t want to hide anymore,” tweeted JSUD president Anna Staroselski.
Reached for comment Tuesday by the Associated Press, the Westin Leipzig said that it was “concerned and alarmed” by Ofarim’s account, and that the hotel employee had been put on leave pending further investigation.