How an antisemitic incident in Leipzig highlighted the chilling emergence of the far-right in Germany’s east

An incident at a hotel in Leipzig has brought to the surface latent antisemitism in parts of Germany, prompting an unflinching response from Germany’s leaders, writes Erik Kirschbaum

Saturday 09 October 2021 14:23
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<p>People gather in front of the "Westin Hotel" in Leipzig, Germany, Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021 to show solidarity with the musician Gil Ofarim</p>

People gather in front of the "Westin Hotel" in Leipzig, Germany, Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021 to show solidarity with the musician Gil Ofarim

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An ugly encounter in Leipzig in which a luxury hotel manager reportedly told an Israeli-German singer to cover up his Star of David necklace first if he wanted a room has prompted a nationwide debate about a disturbing rise in antisemitism in the country that has long struggled to atone for the Holocaust.

Gil Ofarim, a little-known 39-year-old singer, has become a lightning rod for the issue of latent antisemitism in Germany after he went public with a social media video earlier in the week in which he described how staff members at the hotel appeared to ignore him while he stood in the check-in line and then, when he asked why he was being overlooked, they told him to conceal his Star of David if he wanted to get a key to his room. The employees denied the incident. The hotel suspended the employees pending the results of a police investigation.

“He told me to put my star away to be allowed to check in,” Ofarim said in a short video that went viral after he filmed himself in the Leipzig hotel lobby right after the incident took place. Close to tears, the singer added: “Is this for real? Is this Germany in 2021?”

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