Monday. 04.03.2024

An incident in which a Jewish German musician was told to remove a Star of David chain if he wanted service at a Leipzig hotel prompted protests and recriminations on Tuesday.

Hundreds of people gathered at the Westin Hotel in the eastern German city on Tuesday to protest and show solidarity with the musician, Gil Ofarim, as well as with Jewish people in Germany in general.

A police spokesperson said turnout was in the "mid three-digit range."

In a video posted to his Instagram account, Ofarim described being asked by an employee of the hotel to remove his Star of David necklace in order to check in.

The incident apparently began as guests, including Ofarim, were waiting at the hotel reception.

Ofarim says that despite being in line he was repeatedly ignored by staff as other guests were called forward.

After waiting for 15 minutes Ofarim says he asked what was going on, only to hear someone in the background call out that he should take off his Star of David, something that one of the front desk staff then repeated.

Flag of Israel

Speaking at the protest outside the hotel, Irena Rudolph-Kokot said such an incident couldn't go without a response.

"We're showing solidarity with all Jews, who have to endure this kind of thing far too often in Germany," she said. Hotel workers also joined the protest, hefting a poster with the flag of Israel.

Olaf Hoppe, spokesperson for the Leipzig police, said that the alleged statement of the hotel employee was "clearly anti-Semitic," adding that the police would forward the video to the public prosecutor's office, which would examine whether a crime had been committed.

A spokesperson for the Westin Leipzig said it was concerned about the report and were taking the matter extremely seriously, adding that they had been trying to contact Ofarim to find out further details.

Staff on leave

According to reports in the newspapers Bild and Leipziger Volkszeitung, some staff associated with the incident had been put on leave. Both papers cited a hotel manager saying that anti-Semitism was not excusable and would not be tolerated.

The reports could not be independently verified.

Ofarim declined to comment on the incident when contacted, though his management said he was considering filing criminal charges.

"Today would have been his father's birthday, so he does not want to give any more personal interviews on this subject for the time being," they said.

Ofarim's father was the Israeli musician Abi Ofarim.

Social media also lit up regarding the incident. Josef Schuster, head of Germany's Central Council of Jews, called the incident frightening and said he hoped for solidarity. Germany's anti-discrimination authority also took to Twitter, demanding a "rapid response from the hotel."

And Roland Woeller, the interior minister of the state of Saxony, in which Leipzig lies, said he hopes Ofarim presses charges so that the police can investigate.

Anger seethes in Leipzig after Jewish musician denied hotel service