German-Israeli singer charged with lying about anti-Semitism at hotel

German prosecutors said on Thursday they had charged a singer with defamation after failing to find evidence of anti-Semitism allegations he made against staff at a hotel that briefly sparked an international maelstrom.

In a moving video shared on social media in October, Gil Ofarim, a 39-year-old dual Israeli and German citizen, accused the Westin Leipzig hotel of refusing him service because he was wearing a Star of David necklace.

The video, which Ofarim titled “Anti-Semitism in Germany 2021” in all capitals, has gone viral, with anti-Semitism watchdogs and others sharing it widely and condemning the hotel management.

But investigators have found “no evidence” to support the allegation that led to the suspension of two hotel employees, a statement from the German prosecutor’s office said on Thursday.

Prosecutors charged Ofarim with unwarranted suspicion and defamation, while closing the investigation.

The musician had shared the video via Instagram “knowing that it was false and would have defamatory consequences for hotel employees,” prosecutors said.

In the video, Ofarim said that after queuing to check in, he asked why other people who arrived after him were admitted before him. According to Ofarim, another customer responded by telling him to “remove the star”, and he claimed that a hotel employee told him that he would not receive service unless he removed the star. pendant.

The employee, described by Ofarim as the “manager of the check-in counter” and whom he only identified as “MW” said to him: “Put away your star [of David].”

“I am speechless,” Ofarim said in the video, which he recorded while sitting outside the hotel shortly after the alleged incident.

The songwriter’s social media post drew wide attention and sparked a public debate about anti-Semitism in Germany, sensitive to its Nazi past.

After the video was released, thousands of people gathered outside the hotel to express their solidarity with the singer.

Then-German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said he was ‘stunned’ by the incident, warning ‘Leipzig is not an isolated case’ and calling on Germans to unite against anti-Semitism .

Several Jewish organizations in Germany and abroad have condemned the incident.

But Ofarim’s version of events came under scrutiny when security camera footage, released by German media in the weeks after the incident, did not appear to support his claims. assertions.

In security footage from the Leipzig hotel, the collar does not appear to be visible around Gil Ofarim’s neck.

Additionally, Bild newspaper reported that in a statement to police, Ofarim said he could not remember if he was wearing the Star of David chain at the time, although in his Instagram video he claimed he was.

“I don’t know if I wore the chain over or under my shirt. But it’s not about that, it’s about being Jewish in general,” Ofarim told Bild after the tape was released.

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