CCTV footage appears to challenge singer’s claims in Star of David row

·2 min read
<span>Photograph: Dirk Knofe/AP</span>
Photograph: Dirk Knofe/AP

CCTV footage published in the German media appears not to show the Star of David pendant that a Jewish German singer alleged a Leipzig hotel had told him to “put away” before he would be allowed to check in.

In an emotional Instagram video post on 5 October, Gil Ofarim claimed that an employee at the Westin hotel in Leipzig, in eastern Germany, had asked him to cover up the symbol of Jewish identity.

The incident drew condemnation from the German foreign minister, Heiko Maas, and the president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, and sparked protests outside the hotel in Leipzig’s city centre.

Munich-based Ofarim, 39, a former teenage pop star and television personality, filed a criminal complaint against one of the Westin hotel’s workers, which suspended two of its employees for the duration of an investigation. One of the accused employees filed a defamation complaint against Ofarim.

Gil Ofarim at Oktoberfest in Munich in 2019
Gil Ofarim filed a criminal complaint against one of the hotel’s workers, which suspended two of its employees while the claims were investigated. Photograph: Alexander Pohl/Rex/Shutterstock

Ofarim said he was told “Pack deinen Stern ein”, which can be translated as “Put away your star” or more literally “Pack up your star”.

According to reports in Bild am Sonntag and Leipziger Allgemeine newspapers, however, Leipzig police have voiced “serious doubts” about the chain of events as originally described.

Surveillance footage cited by both newspapers – and published online by Bild am Sonntag – shows the singer entering the hotel lobby in a T-shirt and a leather jacket but the Star of David pendant he is seen wearing in the Instagram video published after the incident cannot be seen. It is not clear if this is all the footage of the incident.

When questioned by Bild am Sonntag about the discrepancy, Ofarim said the comment had come from behind his back.

“That means, someone recognised me,” said the son of the Israeli singer-songwriter Abi Ofarim. “This isn’t about the pendant. It’s about something much bigger. Because I am often on television wearing the Star of David, it was used to insult me.”

Two days before the incident, Ofarim had appeared on German public television wearing the pendant at a concert to celebrate the 85th birthday of the klezmer musician Giora Feidman.

The exact words used during the incident have not been verified. The leaked CCTV footage cited by the German media was without sound, the reports said.

Marriott International, the chain that owns the Westin Leipzig hotel, said it would wait for the final outcome of police investigations before commenting on the matter.

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