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Ofarim at the Westin – Employees on leave after anti-Semitism allegations

Leipzig (Saxony) – Hundreds of people gathered in front of the Leipzig luxury hotel “The Westin” on Tuesday to protest. An employee is said to have turned down singer Gil Ofarim (39) the night before because of his Star of David on the necklace. In the meantime, the hotel has given the employees concerned a leave of absence.

The musician had made serious allegations in a video post on Tuesday.

Strange action: employees of the hotel stood in front of the hotel with the Israel flag and crescent moon. The Star of David, which Gil Ofarim should take off, is a symbol of Judaism, while the Israeli flag is a state symbol. It is also strange that employees hold up the Islamic crescent, even though a Jew is said to have been discriminated against because of a Jewish symbol.

What happened?

Gil Ofarim (39) sits with tears in his eyes in front of the entrance to the hotel “The Westin” in Leipzig. He was in the Saxony metropolis for the shooting of an MDR program. But what he apparently had to find out in the luxury hotel on Monday evening stunned. In an Instagram video, the singer explains that he has just been discriminated against because of the Star of David on his necklace.

“I’m speechless right now,” says the musician and son of the Israeli music legend Abi Ofarim († 2018), describing the situation. There was a huge queue at reception because the computer wasn’t working. “It can happen, anything is fine,” emphasizes Ofarim.

He too had been queued on Monday evening, but others had been admitted time and again. Allegedly to straighten the queue, so the reason given by the hotel employee – whom Ofarim calls “Mr. W.”.

“And someone from the corner calls out: ‘Pack your star’. And then Mr W says: ‘Pack your star.’ When the employee said that he was not there, the musician left the hotel in dismay.

In his video, Ofarim holds the Star of David chain in the camera and asks close to tears: “Really? Germany 2021. “

When asked by BILD, his manager Yvonne Probst replied that she had immediately placed him in another hotel. In the meantime he is no longer in Leipzig. “Gil lets that sink in for now and is still shocked by this incident.” In addition, they are considering filing a criminal complaint.

The hotel staff describe the situation slightly differently to BILD: Mr W. (name of the editor known) let three guests in. Ofarim grew angry that there had been “a battle of words.” He was then asked to leave the hotel.​

Manager Yvonne Probst denies this: “Gil says it wasn’t like that. He didn’t think it had anything to do with his Star of David. He says that is always the problem with anti-Semitism, that it means testimony against testimony. He definitely didn’t bully. “

Seven hours after Ofarim’s video, the hotel management published a statement on Instagram: “We are concerned about this report and take the matter very seriously.” Given the hotel on the Internet, thousands of users revolted under the hashtag #WestinLeipzig.

Saxony’s Economics Minister Martin Dulig (47, SPD) apologized Tuesday “on behalf of the anti-Semitic humiliation”.

Employee on leave

In the evening 600 demonstrators (“No place for anti-Semitism”) gathered in front of the “Westin”. Some hotel employees including General Manager Andreas Hachmeister held up a banner in front of the hotel to demonstrate cosmopolitanism. But there was criticism for the banner: “After the anti-Semitic hostility against a Jew in Germany, the hotel can think of nothing else than to print the Israeli flag and symbols of Islam on a banner,” said the President of the Central Council, Josef Schuster.

At the same time as the meeting in front of the hotel, the house published another statement: “Anti-Semitism is not excusable and is not tolerated in our hotel! While we are still trying to get in touch with Mr. Ofarim personally in order to fully investigate the incident, we have given the employees concerned leave of absence.

Our goal is to integrate, respect and support all of our guests and employees, regardless of religion, skin color or sexual orientation. “

The police started an investigation and, according to their own statements, wanted to submit the investigation documents to the public prosecutor’s office for legal review on Wednesday. It is still unclear whether Ofarim will file a complaint.

“The anti-Semitic hostility that Gil Ofarim obviously experienced in Leipzig is terrifying. That is the everyday anti-Semitism to which Jews are repeatedly exposed, ”said the President of the Central Council of Jews, Josef Schuster (67), on Tuesday.

“Where were the other people in the queue in front of the reception who stood by Gil Ofarim’s side? Why did no one protest? Just as it is to be hoped that the hotel will take personal consequences, I also hope that in the future we will meet with solidarity when we are attacked. “

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