I’m not sure whether to be relieved that this situation maybe wasn’t quite as bad as was initially reported, or to be disturbed about the seemingly false narrative that was told, in the process very much damaging a business and an individual.
The basics of the Westin Leipzig anti-Semitism story
A couple of weeks ago the Westin Leipzig made international headlines over an alleged anti-Semitism incident that occurred at the hotel.
Long story short, a well known German singer, Gil Ofarim, claimed that a front desk associate refused to check him in because he was wearing a Star of David around his neck. The issue arose when there was a long line at check-in, and Ofarim claimed that others were being helped ahead of him.
According to his version of events, when he confronted the front desk manager about this, someone yelled “pack your star,” and at that point the manager at the front desk also stated that if he packed his star he’d be able to check-in.
This story sounded terrible, of course. I didn’t want it to be true, because this would be such disgusting anti-Semitism. At the same time, you also wouldn’t think that this is something that would be made up, especially from someone well known checking into a random hotel.
In Germany anti-Semitism is criminal, and Ofarim decided to file a criminal complaint against the employee in question. The police has now conducted an investigation, and the findings are surprising.
What the police says about Westin Leipzig incident
The police of Leipzig has “serious doubts” about Ofarim’s version of events:
- The surveillance footage from the Westin shows that there was no chain with a Star of David around Ofarim’s neck when he checked into the hotel, spoke to someone at the front desk, or exited the hotel
- Rather the musician wore an open leather jacket with a t-shirt underneath
- During interrogation with the police, Ofarim stated that he did not remember whether he had worn the Star of David chain around his neck (even though in his Instagram video right after the incident he claimed that he did)
- Now Ofarim states that this is not about the chain as such, but rather is about something much bigger; he thinks that someone else recognized him and decided to make an anti-Semitic comment — “it’s not about whether the chain was seen in the hotel or not, it’s about the fact that I was insulted in an anti-Semitic way”
The Westin employee who was accused of anti-Semitism by Ofarim has now filed a complaint against him for defamation, as he has a very different version of events.
There’s no doubt that there’s a ton of anti-Semitism out there. We probably won’t know if there was any anti-Semitism involved in this incident. What we do know is that the incident didn’t quite happen as Ofarim stated, and once there’s a major hole in the story, it makes it hard to believe.
The problem here is that a focal point of the story was him stating that he was wearing the Star of David, and that he was told he couldn’t check-in until he took it off. If he wasn’t in fact wearing the Star of David, then that’s all a very different story.
Could there still have been anti-Semitism, and would it be unacceptable if that were the case? Of course. But it’s hard to get over the lies that were told about the incident just moments after it happened (especially since he wore his Star of David in the video, meaning that he would have had to put it on as soon as he left the hotel).