39-year-old Israeli-German dual citizen Gil Ofarim was denied service at the Westin Leipzig for wearing a Star of David necklace
On Tuesday, 5 October 2021, Gil Ofarim, a local celebrity and a dual citizen in Germany and Israel, posted a video on Facebook where he accused the Westin Leipzig hotel of denying him service because of wearing a Star of David necklace.
According to his statement, he was standing in line, waiting to check in, when he noticed that many who arrived later were called up to the reception before him. Upon asking why he was not called to check in, a hotel employee told him they were trying to reduce the line but still did not acknowledge him standing there. Then another customer and an employee of higher rank told him to „take off the star,” referring to the singer’s Star of David necklace. Ofarim declared that the hotel employee repeated the call to take off the necklace: „once you put it away, you can check in.” The musician ends the video with the words: „Germany, 2021.”
After the incident, at least 600 people gathered in front of the hotel, accusing the staff of antisemitism. The spokesperson for the hotel said the hotel was „deeply concerned”, and they reached out to Ofarim to hear more details about the incident. The hotel also posted a picture on Instagram that showed a line of people holding a banner with the hotel’s name and logo as well as Israeli flags and crescents that symbolise Islam, apparently as a sign of solidarity. Josef Schuster, the president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, commented, „Following antisemitic hostility against a Jew in Germany, all the hotel can do is print a banner with the Israeli flag and symbols of Islam.”
The Central Council of Jews in Germany stated it was „shocked” by the incident. The American Jewish Committee described the incident as „heartbreaking.” According to the AJC, one employee was suspended, but more must be done. They launched an online petition, urging the Marriott company owning the hotel to apologise and combat antisemitism.