Yesterday I wrote about a story that’s so shocking that I almost find it hard to believe. I wanted to share the latest update on that…
Westin Leipzig staff told guest to cover Star of David
German singer Gil Ofarim took to social media to share an experience he had while checking in at the Westin in Leipzig, Germany, where a front desk associate is accused of being openly anti-Semitic towards him. For context, Ofarim is Jewish, and wears a Star of David around his neck, which he says he has done for a long time.
Ofarim posted an emotional two minute video to Instagram where he’s clearly in shock and disbelief. Here’s a summary of his claims:
- Ofarim was checking into the Westin Leipzig, and there was a long line for check-in because the computers were down; he was understanding of that, since these kinds of issues happen
- When people were finally being helped, he noticed that others were being helped before him, out of order
- After about 15 minutes he asked why everyone else was being helped before him, and he was told that it was “to straighten the line”
- Around this time he heard someone yelling from the side “pack your star”
- At that point the manager at the front desk also said to him “pack your star,” and he was told that if he did so he’d be able to check-in
- Ofarim didn’t feel comfortable, so he left the hotel and chose to stay somewhere else
Below you can see the video of Ofarim’s story for yourself. And for those who don’t speak German, it’s worth noting that Ofarim is a native German speaker, so nothing was “lost in translation” here, at least from a language perspective.
What the hotel has to say about this incident
As you’d expect, the Westin Leipzig is getting a lot of backlash over this incident. Yesterday evening, 600 protestors gathered outside of the hotel in support of Ofarim. Interestingly hotel employees stood in front of the hotel during this protest with banners that had the flag of Israel and the crescent moon (hmm…).
The hotel has stated that it’s “concerned and alarmed by the intolerable accusations” of Ofarim, and that the hotel is investigating this right now. It’s also stated that the hotel employee in question has been put on leave until the investigation is completed.
Separately, the police has started an investigation, and wants to submit the case to the public prosecutor’s office for legal review.
Bild reports that hotel staff have a somewhat different version of events. According to that version, three guests were helped ahead of Ofarim, and then he grew angry, and there was “a battle of words.” According to this version, he was then asked to leave the hotel.
I’m curious what comes of this
We all know that there are terrible people out there… sadly that doesn’t come as a surprise. However, to hear that a front desk agent at a Marriott-family property refused to check someone in unless they removed their Star of David is beyond despicable.
It’s one thing if a hateful person were yelling that from somewhere in the hotel, but to have that reinforced by the staff of the hotel? I’m simply speechless.
I have no reason to doubt the claims that Ofarim is making — he comes across as sincere. At the same time I want to believe this isn’t real, because it’s just so terrible. And beyond how awful it is, it’s just so stupid. Did the front desk agent want to get fired, did s/he think Ofarim wouldn’t say anything, or what?
The claim from the hotel that this has nothing to do with the Star of David seems even more implausible, if you ask me:
- He got so angry at the staff that he was kicked out of the hotel?
- He completely made up claims about anyone saying about about the Star of David?
I hope that Marriott is transparent with this investigation, and that we find out what exactly transpired.
The Westin in Leipzig, Germany, is accused of a horrific act of anti-Semitism. According to a German musician, the hotel repeatedly skipped him for check-in when there was a line. When he eventually confronted the front desk about this, someone yelled that he should remove the Star of David from his neck. What’s even more shocking is that the front desk agent apparently made a similar request, saying he can be checked in once he removes it.
The hotel has now put the employee in question on leave. However, the hotel’s version of events is that he was kicked out of the hotel for getting into an argument over having to wait, and it doesn’t involve the Star of David at all.
I hope that Marriott conducts a quick and transparent investigation here, because the claims are beyond egregious.
(Tip of the hat to YHBU)