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Singer Gil Ofarim admits he lied about antisemitic incident

November 28, 2023

Jewish-German singer Gil Ofarim told a Leipzig court he had fabricated a story claiming he was the victim of antisemitism. A falsely accused hotel manager accepted Ofarim's apology.

Gil Ofarim goes to a hearing at the Leipzig State Courthouse regarding his false allegations of antisemitism
Jewish groups say Gil Ofarim lied to them and that his false claims damaged the communityImage: Sebastian Willnow/dpa/picture alliance

Gil Ofarim, a Jewish-German singer on trial for defamation, admitted Tuesday during testimony at the Leipzig State Courthouse that he had indeed fabricated a story that made headlines across Germany in October 2021.

In an October 5, 2021, social media video, Ofarim claimed a hotel employee had told him to remove his Star of David necklace while he checked into the Westin Leipzig.

Ofarim was subsequently sued for defamation and spreading false accusations of antisemitic behavior as the accused hotel employee vehemently defended himself.

"The accusations [against me] are true," Ofarim told the court. "I would like to apologize to you," he added, addressing the manager of the hotel, who was present in the courtroom.

Antisemitism demonstration at Hotel Westin Leipzig after Ofarim's allegations in October 2021
Ofarim's allegation of antisemitism resulted in protests at the Westin Leipzig and triggered outrage in GermanyImage: Dirk Knofe/dpa/picture alliance

Ofarim said he had since deleted the video.

The hotel manager accepted the singer's apology.

Central Council of Jews in Germany: Ofarim must bear 'full responsibility' for lies

The Central Council of Jews in Germany released a statement on X (formerly Twitter) saying it is "important to believe those bringing accusations of antisemitism" but that "such accusations can never be baselessly leveled."

The organization said, "we condemn Gil Ofraim's behavior. He must bear full responsibility for his lies."

As part of an agreement beyond his apology, charges against Ofarim will be dropped if he transfers the funds for a €10,000 ($10,955) fine to the Jewish Community of Leipzig and the House of the Wannsee Conference memorial and education center within the next six months.

The court justified ending the trial by saying it had above all intended to determine what had actually transpired. After witness testimony and ultimately Ofarim's own admission, the facts of the case, said the court, had finally been established beyond all doubt.

Further, the court added that the hotel manager's reputation had been more clearly rehabilitated as the result of Ofarim's admission of guilt and his apology than would have been the case if the issue had been solely ruled upon by the court.

js/wd (AFP, dpa)