October 6, 2021 — Berlin, Germany
American Jewish Committee (AJC), the leading global Jewish advocacy organization, is calling on the Marriott hotel company to apologize directly to a German Jewish man who was told to remove his Star of David necklace while waiting to check in at the Westin hotel in Leipzig. Marriott is the parent company of Westin.
Gil Ofarim, a popular German-Israeli singer who lives in Germany, left the Westin lobby after the incident and posted a video on Instagram Monday evening that has been viewed more than one million times.
Ofarim, visibly agitated by the incident, describes in a two-minute video what happened, how hotel staff told him to remove his necklace, which he says he always wears, before being allowed to check in. “Really? Germany 2021,” Ofarim states at the end of the video.
“This blatantly antisemitic incident is sickening and unacceptable everywhere, but especially in Germany. It reminds us that antisemitism is a problem in all parts of society, not only in the extreme fringes,” said Remko Leemhuis, Director of AJC Berlin. “Marriott should take all necessary steps to ensure that something like this will never happen again. AJC stands ready to help with our expertise and knowledge."
While hotel staff involved in the incident with Ofarim reportedly have been suspended, AJC has launched an online petition calling on Marriott to not only apologize to Ofarim, but to commit to training its employees in Germany and around the world about antisemitism.
AJC has the staff expertise and resources, especially its Translate Hate publication, to engage staff at all Marriott brands in understanding what is antisemitism, what should obviously be offensive words and actions. Translate Hate is an innovative digital resource aimed at enabling individuals of all backgrounds to recognize and expose antisemitic language and images. It also recommends actions to take against hate speech.