German-Israeli singer Gil Ofarim admitted in court in Leipzig last week that he made up a claim of antisemitism against two hotel employees in October 2021.
In the emotional clip that he posted two years ago on Instagram, Ofarim accused staff at an upscale hotel in the eastern German city of Leipzig of asking him to hide his Star of David pendant before checking in. The video circulated widely, with Berlin’s then-foreign minister expressing shock and calling on Germans to unite against antisemitism.
But doubts arose when the hotel’s security footage showed the singer hadn’t been wearing a visible necklace. Ofarim had also told police he wasn’t sure if he had worn the obviously Jewish jewelry at the time, despite his earlier claims.
Last year, hotel staff who had been suspended in the wake of the viral post filed defamation charges against Ofarim. During court proceedings last week, the Munich-born artist confessed to fabricating the entire story, expressing remorse and asking forgiveness from the hotel staff. He provided no explanation for his false claims.
“I would like to apologize. I am sorry. I have deleted the video,” he told the hotel manager in court.
The hotel manager, who is also a co-plaintiff in the case against Ofarim, accepted the apology, resulting in the closure of the case.
As part of a plea bargain, Ofarim agreed to donate about $11,000 to Leipzig’s Jewish community and to the House of the Wannsee Conference, a Holocaust-education center.
The Central Council of Jews in Germany said the singer had done “great harm to all those who are actually affected by antisemitism.”
“Gil Ofarim’s fabrication has massively damaged the fight against antisemitism, especially when victims are so often not believed and their experiences of hatred are played down or dismissed,” said Nicholas Potter, a researcher at Germany’s Amadeu Antonio Foundation, which combats antisemitism.
In August 2022, Lufthansa said it would hire an antisemitism manager and adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)’s working definition of antisemitism following an incident in which more than 100 Jewish passengers were not allowed to board a flight from New York to Budapest, with a stopover in Frankfurt.
The airline claimed that some passengers did not follow mask-wearing protocols, leading to the refusal of service.
In the immediate aftermath of these events, Germany’s antisemitism commissioner Felix Klein did not issue a statement on the matter, despite having quickly weighed in on the Ofarim affair the previous year.