Enlarge image

Gil Ofarim on trial: Late apology


Hendrik Schmidt / dpa

The musician Gil Ofarim has made a confession before the Regional Court of Leipzig. The accusations against him are true. In October 2021, Ofarim had published a video in which he described how an employee of the Leipzig hotel »The Westin« had asked him to take off his Star of David necklace before checking in. The video with the accusations of anti-Semitism went viral on social networks. According to the Leipzig public prosecutor's office, however, the incident did not happen that way.

Turning to the hotel manager, the musician said: "The accusations are true. Mr. W., I would like to apologize to you, I'm sorry, I deleted the video." The hotel manager, who also acted as a joint plaintiff, accepted the apology.

The proceedings against Ofarim will now be temporarily discontinued against a fine, the district court announced. Accordingly, the musician must pay a total of 10,000 euros within six months for the benefit of the Jewish Community of Leipzig and the sponsoring association of the House of the Wannsee Conference. After that, the proceedings will be definitively discontinued. Through the defendant's apology, the hotel manager had been rehabilitated more effectively than would have been possible through a verdict. In addition, Ofarim had "suffered considerable disadvantages in connection with what had happened".

"Anti-Semitism is a fact"

The facts of the case are now clear, said the presiding judge, the company has learned the truth. "All rumours, conjectures and suspicions have thus been removed." Ofarim – who had long insisted on his version – had come a long way. He had now restored W.'s good reputation through his confession. This is the most important prerequisite for regaining one's own.

Ofarim's lawyer Alexander Stevens spoke of a "difficult evidence" after the court's decision. The "presumption of innocence remains unaffected by this dismissal of the proceedings".

At the end, the judge emphasized something else: "One thing remains as it was: anti-Semitism is a fact. Fighting against it is a task."

Michael Blume, Baden-Württemberg's anti-Semitism commissioner, spoke out after the confession: "There is neither a Jewish world conspiracy nor faultlessness." Ofarim had admitted his mistake, he had asked the hotel manager for an apology and thus taken responsibility. "We will have overcome anti-Semitism when we understand that Jews are not worse or better people – but people like all of us."

The Central Council of Jews has condemned Ofarim's behavior. "For two years, Gil Ofarim accused employees of a Leipzig hotel of anti-Semitism. Now he has confessed that he lied. In doing so, Gil Ofarim has caused great harm to all those who are actually affected by anti-Semitism."