A German pop singer has admitted in court that he invented claims he faced discrimination at a hotel because he is Jewish.
In October 2021, Gil Ofarim posted a tearful video to Instagram, claiming he had been the target of anti-Semitic abuse at a Leipzig hotel.
Holding up to the camera a Star of David chain he was wearing, Ofarim claimed a staff member had told him that, if he wanted to check in, he should “put away the star”.
“He told me, if I put it away, I’d be allowed check in,” he said, blinking away tears. “Why? Have we learned nothing from history? Speechless. It’s not the first time but it’s finally enough ...”
Ofarim’s video went viral online and led to boycotts of the hotel and online death threats against a staff member, who denied the singer’s claim.
More than two years later, facing charges of slander and false testimony in court, the singer admitted he made it all up.
“The charges are correct,” said Ofarim to a Leipzig district court. Turning to the hotel staff member in the chamber, he added: “I would like to apologise to you. I have deleted the video.”
The case ended without a verdict after the 41-year-old singer agreed to pay €10,000 to the local Jewish community and a Berlin memorial.
After the claims, Leipzig’s Westin hotel had experts analyse security camera footage of the incident. Their analysis, based on enhanced footage, indicated the singer’s gold chain was not visible while he was inside the hotel and was most likely concealed beneath his t-shirt.
Prosecutors said there was “sufficient suspicion” to believe that Ofarim made his statements “cognisant of their untrue nature and the consequences for employees”.
On Tuesday the hotel manager was among those scheduled to testify.
After the settlement, a lawyer for the unnamed hotel employee said he was happy that “the truth had come to light”.
Until Tuesday, Ofarim had stuck to his original version of events, attracting considerable publicity and support, and solidarity from Jewish groups.
Now the Central Committee for Jews in Germany has criticised the singer for “hurting all those who are really affected by anti-Semitism”.
“Gil Ofarim has to take the consequences for his lies,” it said in a statement.
According to a study published on Tuesday, anti-Semitic attacks in Germany since the October 7th Hamas attack on Israel have risen by 320 per cent to 29 a day.