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German-Israeli singer fined after admitting making up antisemitism claim

German singer Gil Ofarim stands in the courtroom in Leipzig (Hendrik Schmidt/dpa via AP)
German singer Gil Ofarim stands in the courtroom in Leipzig (Hendrik Schmidt/dpa via AP)

A German-Israeli singer who claimed he had been turned away from a hotel in Leipzig because he was wearing a Star of David pendant has admitted during a defamation trial against him that he had made up the story.

The proceedings against Gil Ofarim for defamation and false accusation at a district court in Leipzig were dropped following his surprising confession, German news agency dpa reported.

The 41-year-old must pay a fine of 10,000 euros (£8,680) and he apologised to the hotel manager who was a co-plaintiff in the case.

“The allegations are true,” Ofarim said during the sixth day of the trial, dpa reported.

Germany Jewish Singer Confession
Gil Ofarim admitted he had made up the claim of antisemitism (Hendrik Schmidt/dpa via AP)

“I would like to apologise to you,” he said, addressing the hotel manager. “I am sorry.”

The hotel manager accepted the apology, dpa reported.

Ofarim had accused the Leipzig hotel of antisemitism in October 2021 in a video that quickly went viral on social media.

The singer, who lives in Germany, shared the video on Instagram at the time, showing him in front of the Westin hotel in Leipzig and saying a hotel employee asked him to put away his necklace in order to check into the hotel.

However, after extensive investigations by the Leipzig public prosecutor’s office, Ofarim was charged with defamation and an initial case against the hotel employee was dropped.

On Tuesday, Ofarim said in court that he had deleted the video with the accusations.

Ofarim is the son of Israeli singer Abi Ofarim, who performed with his first wife, Esther, during the 1950s and 1960s. The couple were known internationally for their renditions of folk songs.

Germany’s leading Jewish group, which initially stood behind the singer, sharply condemned him after his surprise confession.

“For two years, Gil Ofarim accused employees of a Leipzig hotel of antisemitism. Now he has confessed that he lied. In doing so, Gil Ofarim has caused great harm to all those who are actually affected by antisemitism,” Germany’s Central Council for Jews in Germany said.

“In the event of an accusation of antisemitism, it is right to stand on the side of the person concerned, to support them and not to question their experience of antisemitism in the first instance,” the group said.

“Conversely, such an accusation must never be made without good reason. And that unfortunately happened here.”