San Francisco bureaucrats meet to discuss future of The Great Walkway

Lee Heidhues 10.15.2021

In response to a Public Records Request with Supervisor Connie Chan I received the attached document.  StatementGreatHighway10521.

In early October representatives of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, The Metropolitan Transportation Agency and The Recreation and Park Commission met to discuss the future of The Great Walkway.

The Subject: line in the September 28, 2021 email states Supervisor Chan, the legislator primarily responsible for reopening The Great Walkway to cars in August 2021 after 16 months as a car free zone, and MTA Director Michael Tumlin would be participating.

Supervisor Chan did not attend the meeting. Legislative aide Kelly Groth participated in her place.

StatementGreatHighway10521

 

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San Francisco Recreation and Park Department and San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Provide Update on the Future of the Great Highway.

Please see the attached meeting invite for the list of folks invited to the meeting; which  also included Megan Imperial (BOS) and Sarah Jones. (MTA)

From: Ng, Beverly (REC)
Sent: Tuesday, September 28, 2021 12:46 PM
To: Groth, Kelly (BOS) ; Yu, Angelina (BOS) ; Madland, Sarah (REC) ; Tumlin, Jeffrey (MTA)
Cc: Chan, Connie (BOS) ; Simpliciano, Sophia (MTA) ; Doherty, Timothy (MTA)

Subject: Briefing update on Great Highway with Sup. Chan & Director Tumlin
When: Friday, October 1, 2021 9:30 AM-10:00 AM.

On Aug. 5, 2021, Mayor London Breed and Supervisor Gordon Mar, with support from Supervisors Connie Chan and Myrna Melgar, modified the emergency order so the Great Highway will be closed to vehicles from each Friday at noon until the following Monday at 6 a.m. and open to pedestrians, cycling and other recreational uses. 

 Throughout this time, Rec and Park and the SFMTA have been focusing on the Great Highway’s long- term future beyond the emergency order. Together, we have been monitoring usage in order to recommend a two-year pilot program to the Board of Supervisors. Our target for presenting the plan, originally set for fall, will now be postponed as we study the impact of the partial opening, which went into effect August 16.   

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The abbreviations:

BOS – San Francisco Board of Supervisors Board of Supervisors

MTA – San Francisco Metropolitan Transportation Agency

REC – San Francisco Recreation and Park Commission

 

Feds cave to howls of The Entitled mob of drivers. Put brakes on Park parking fees

Lee Heidhues 10.14.2021

Paying for parking in Federal parks and the howls being heard from The Entitled is yet another skirmish in the San Francisco Do Cars Rule the World battle?

As the excerpt from The San Francisco Chronicle shows the Feds have caved to the howls of The Entitled Mob.

Its ironic that some who profess to appreciate the environment, including elected officials, are howling the loudest about having to pay to park in Bay Area national parks.

The struggle for car free zones is being waged in San Francisco with The Great Walkway and JFK Drive being Ground Zero. San Francisco Supervisor Connie Chan, whose district encompasses JFK Drive and The Great Walkway, can now ad the Lands End area to the list of environmental battle zones.

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Cyclists at Crissy Field in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area

Supervisor Chan has already betrayed the Progressives who put her in office in 2020 and taken the side of the most reactionary elements amongst The Entitled in the JFK Drive and Great Walkway battle.

The Supervisor must know one way to get people to leave their vehicles and find alternative modes is to make it costly to park.

She doesn’t care. She wants to get reelected. Period.

Supervisor Chan should commend the National Park Service, a steward of the environment, for putting forth this sensible proposal.

Excerpted from The Chronicle 10.14.2021

As the country’s national parks confront record crowds, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, home to the Presidio, Marin Headlands and Stinson Beach, is looking to introduce parking fees to ease the higher cost of operations.

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Not everyone is happy about this. Members of Congress, a powerful dog advocacy group and about 900 letter-writers are among those fighting the proposal, which calls for a $3-an-hour or $10-a-day parking fee at eight sites in San Francisco and Marin County. The sites, where parking has long been free, include such locally popular play spots as Baker Beach, China Beach, Lands End and Rodeo Beach.

On Thursday afternoon, in an unexpected turn, GGNRA officials told The Chronicle they were reconsidering their proposal in light of the feedback and would hold off on charging for parking in at at least some of the spots. Which ones remains to be seen.

https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/National-parks-are-getting-too-crowded-so-GGNRA-16533434.php

“Cancel Culture Bullshit” the right-wing talking point on Gruden resignation

Lee Heidhues 10.12.2021

Back in Jon Gruden’s halycon days as Oakland Raiders coach he was affectionately known as “Chucky” and billboards with his smiling face graced billboards on Bay Area freeways.

Times have changed.

Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden’s sudden resignation in the face of a political and media firestorm when his 10 year old incendiary emails found their way into the news cycle has become a major political story.  What is more disturbing is the fact that people inside the NFL and the media have known about Gruden’s comments for years.

The question becomes, “Why did it take 10 years for this story to become public knowledge?”  The reason may be that Gruden has been a money machine for the networks in his role as a coach and a commentator on ESPN.

Money can make a lot of uncomfortable problems go away.  But not forever.

Excerpted from Vanity Fair 10.12.2021

Newsmax host Greg Kelly chalked up Jon Gruden’s resignation to “CANCEL CULTURE BULLSHIT,” while right-wing talk radio host Jesse Kelly said that if Gruden had “mocked straight people, insulted the looks of a white man, and said Christians are stupid, he’d still be employed today.”

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This past June, the National Football league launched a new promo video that proclaimed, “Football is gay,” as well as “lesbian,” “beautiful,” “strong,” “queer,” and “transgender.” The video reportedly drew plenty of hateful comments, and this week, a new scandal has shed light on the recalcitrant culture of homophobia and racism that still exists in the NFL.

On Monday, The New York Times reported that Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden made a series of racist, homophobic, and sexist comments in emails several years ago.

Gruden attempted to sweep aside the incident when confronted with the first seemingly racist remark he made in 2011, when he said that NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith, who is Black, has “lips the size of [Michelin] tires.”

Gruden ultimately resigned in the face of the Times story, which suggested the comment was not an isolated incident. “I love the Raiders and do not want to be a distraction,” Gruden said in a statement. “I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt anyone.”

In perhaps a predictable turn of events, Gruden’s resignation has granted him instant martyr status in the right-wing media’s “cancel culture” wars.

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ex-Raiders Coach Jon Gruden

Blogger and podcast host Matt Walsh said as much in a tweet stating that “Nobody was a victim of Gruden’s vulgar comments,” ergo he should face no consequences. “Nobody was hurt or even offended. Call it what it is: Gruden is getting canceled for thought crimes,” Walsh wrote, adding that Gruden lost his job “because he’s a white guy who used insensitive language.” Gruden’s use of anti-gay slurs is of particular note given that––up until Monday night––he coached Carl Nassib, the first active NFL player to come out publicly. Still, Walsh wrote, there is “no indication or even claim that [Gruden] has acted inappropriately in his job as a coach.

Naturally, the controversy made its way onto the former president’s favorite TV network. During his Fox Business show on Monday, host Charles Payne argued that Gruden was a victim of selective punishment and that he “should [not] have lost his job over this,” while his guest asserted that proponents of “cancel culture” have “won another battle.”

Jason Whitlock, a former Fox Sports personality who now hosts a show on Glenn Beck’s The Blaze network, responded to the controversy by suggesting that this season’s Super Bowl Halftime Show’s performers—rappers Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and Eminem—are all more cancel-worthy than Gruden.

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2021/10/jon-gruden-new-cancel-culture-martyr

Top photo -NFLPA Director DeMaurice Smith

Raiders coach Gruden quits. Be careful what you write. Written word is forever.

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Lee Heidhues 10.11.2021

Over 25 years ago, at the dawn of email, my employer called together the troops to issue a cautionary warning about email.

She told us the written word takes on a life of its own and lasts forever.

Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden, a fixture in National Football League circles the past 25 years, obviously didn’t get the message.

Incendiary words he posted 10 years ago surfaced last week.

Jon Gruden resigned today.

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Excerpted from The New York Times 10.11.2021

Jon Gruden stepped down Monday as the coach of the Las Vegas Raiders football team hours after The New York Times detailed emails in which he had made homophobic and misogynistic remarks, following an earlier report of racist statements about a union leader.

His resignation was a striking departure from the football league for a coach who had won a Super Bowl, been a marquee analyst on ESPN and returned to the N.F.L. in 2018 to lead the resurgent Raiders, which he had coached years before.

“I have resigned as Head Coach of the Las Vegas Raiders,” he said on Twitter in a statement issued by the team. “I love the Raiders and do not want to be a distraction. Thank you to all the players, coaches, staff, and fans of Raider Nation. I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt anyone.”

Mark Davis, the owner of the Raiders, said in a statement that he had accepted the resignation. Rich Bisaccia, the Raiders’ special teams coordinator, was elevated to interim head coach, the team said.

SF Chronicle Knightcrawler plays lawyer. Tries to take down SF District Attorney

Lee Heidhues 10.11.2021

San Francisco Chronicle columnist Heather Knight is at it, again.

Knight’s October 10 column dissects the aftermath of two fatal auto driver caused bicycle accidents on the same day in June 2016. She attempts to hold DA Chesa Boudin as the party most responsible for the sentence meted out to one of the culprits.

The column gives short shrift to the fact, which is briefly acknowledged in her column, that the charging decisions were made nearly four years before Chesa Boudin became District Attorney. His office was left to handle a difficult situation left him by his predecessor.

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District Attorney Chesa Boudin with his supporters at SF City Hall – August 2021

In trying to place the current DA in the worst possible light, Heather Knight essentially engages in the unauthorized practice of law.

Making her column more egregious is the fact Heather Knight interviewed Tom Ostly, an ex San Francisco Assistant District Attorney fired by Chesa Boudin when he took office.

Ostly is now a prime mover in the attempted recall of the District Attorney. He is deeply involved in the anti Chesa Boudin Stop Crime Action PAC which is sending out mailers to targeted San Francisco voters.

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Chesa Boudin being sworn in as DA January 8, 2020 by Mayor London Breed with his wife Dr. Valerie Block looking on

In short the column is an undisguised hit piece. It takes anecdotal evidence, inaccurately portrays the record and most reprehensible is the insinuation the DA is responsible for a situation left him by his predecessor.

As an award winning journalist Heather’s reporting continues to be totally beyond the pale when it comes to Chesa Boudin. A pattern of reporting which began nearly two years ago when she was covering the 2019 District Attorney campaign.

Artwork – Liz Heidhues

https://www.sfchronicle.com/sf/bayarea/heatherknight/article/Two-cyclists-killed-Two-drivers-arrested-And-in-16520656.php

The execution of the Rosenbergs and the political lynching of DA Chesa Boudin

Lee Heidhues 10.10.2021

It is not far fetched to find parallels in the attempted Recall of Progressive San Francisco District Chesa Boudin and the June 19, 1953 execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.

In the midst of the 1950’s Red Scare paranoia the Rosenbergs were convicted of espionage and executed in the electric chair at Sing Sing Prison in New York. The evidence against both Julius and Ethel was sketchy, particularly Ethel’s. Their arrest, trial and conviction was one of the most shameful episodes in American political history.

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Tabloid journalism during The Red Scare

After the execution the French author Jean Paul Sartre penned the following in the magazine Liberation.

Now that we have been made your allies, the fate of the Rosenbergs could be a preview of our own future.  You, who claim to be masters of the world, had the opportunity to prove that you were first of all masters of yourselves.  But you gave into your criminal folly and this very folly might tomorrow throw us headlong into a war of extermination.

By killing the Rosenbergs you have quite simply tried to halt the progress of science by human sacrifices—we are here getting to the point—your country is sick with fear…you are afraid of the shadow of your own bomb.

Now we fast forward to 2021 and Progressive San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin.  He was elected less than two years ago on a platform of “progressive” justice. The San Francisco Police Officers Association spent nearly $1,000,000 in a vicious campaign to defeat him.

From Day One DA Boudin has been besieged by his opponents in the mainstream media and the political establishment who have jumped on every alleged misstep to bring him down.

Two recall attempts have been launched. One by a disgruntled San Francisco Republican failed to gather the necessary number of signatures.  The second recall launched by so called moderate Democrats has been funded by wealthy right wing donors and Political Action Committees funded by law enforcement agencies.

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Chesa Boudin – Election Night November 5, 2019

This second attempt, which has spent over $1,000,000 will likely make the ballot and a Recall election will take place in the coming months

Make no mistake.  This recall is an insidious attempt to thwart the will of the voters. In its most blatant form this must be called an attempted political lynching of Chesa Boudin.

San Francisco cannot allow this Rosenberg type political justice to occur and have a present day Sartre write a similiar epitath about Chesa Boudin.

 

No justice in America. US will not charge cop who shot and paralyzed black man

Lee Heidhues

People of color cannot expect to get justice in America.

American cops continue to engage in their lawless behavior. Shooting and murdering at will with no ramifications. People thought that with the disgraced Donald Trump out of office the Justice Department under President Biden would change its policies.

Sadly, the Biden Administration is continuing the whitewash policy of its predecessor when it comes to equal justice under the law.

Deutsche Welle 10.8.2021

The Justice Department says it won’t pursue federal criminal charges against the Wisconsin officer over the shooting last year. Jacob Blake was left paralyzed after the incident that sparked days of protests.

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Kenosha cops gun down Jacob Blake – August 2020

The US Justice Department announced Friday that they will not follow up charges against the white police officer who shot Jacob Blake last year.

In August 2020, Officer Rusten Sheskey shot Blake, a Black man, several times in the back during a domestic disturbance in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Blake was left paralyzed from the waist down following the incident, which was captured on a cellphone.

The Justice Department said in a statement it had declined to prosecute due to “insufficient evidence” to prove “beyond reasonable doubt the officer willfully” used excessive force.

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Jacob Blake and son

Several nights of protests were sparked by the shooting of Blake, during one of which an Illinois man shot three people, killing two of them.

State prosecutors elected not to press charges against Sheskey in January of this year after video footage showed that Blake had been armed with a knife.

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Protesters confront Kenosha cops – August 2020

Meanwhile, the Justice Department launched its own investigation days after the shooting.

The federal executive said Blake’s family had already been told of the decision to not prosecute.

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Jacob Blake protest

https://www.dw.com/en/us-will-not-charge-police-officer-who-shot-jacob-blake/a-59454864

 

Germany. Greens in driver’s seat: What are chances for a ‘traffic light’ coalition?

A smiling Green leader Annalena Baerbock knows she is in a good place. Her party finished third in the recent German elections, won 118 seats in the Bundestag and will be part of the governing coalition in Berlin. 

This is new territory for the Greens who started out as a fringe environmental party nearly 40 years ago. They’ve come a long way and now are reaping the reward for their political hard work.

Excerpted from Deutsche Welle 10.7.2021

In Germany, the political pendulum has swung toward a “traffic light coalition” — named for the colors of the parties involved: red for the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), yellow for the FDP, and green for the environmentalist Greens.

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Lindner (left), the Greens’ Annalena Baerbock (center) and Olaf Scholz  consider ways to forge a three-way coalition

But there are fundamental differences in the parties’ platforms. The FDP is against the SPD and Greens’ plan to raise taxes on the wealthiest to deal with the pandemic and the resulting national debt. At first glance, the liberals appear also at odds with their climate policy, which envisions a stronger government hand. The FDP wants market-driven solutions to the climate crisis.

It’s on EU, foreign and security policy that the three parties seem to be most aligned.

The potential coalition members agree on maintaining a strong partnership with the United States and NATO, including when it comes to confronting China, Russia and Iran. Differences remain over certain points, such as the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Russia and Germany.

Just how viable the three-way coalition could be is what the parties want to clarify from the start of their exploratory talks together.

FDP leader Christian Lindner has expressed the most skepticism and made it no secret that his party is more naturally aligned with the conservatives. However, he has said he is open to the possibility of a traffic light coalition. In pre-exploratory talks with the Greens, he seems to have made peace with his opponents, which he has long considered a “prohibition party.”

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Greens on German election night – 9.26.2021

Talks have moved from bilateral to trilateral, bringing the SPD — and chancellor hopeful Olaf Scholz — on board. All eyes, including abroad, are on the struggle to put together Germany’s first government without Merkel for the first time in nearly 16 years.

“From the perspective of European partners, Scholz presents a certain amount of continuity for the post-Merkel era and, with it, stability and reliability,” Antonios Souris, a political scientist at Berlin’s Free University, told DW.

Given the parties’ pro-EU bent, Souris said, any modernization program for Germany could have a ripple effect across Europe.

Exploratory talks are just the first step toward negotiations. But there is precedent for a traffic light coalition at the state level, something Lindner’s party colleague, Volker Wissing, knows well. Until May, he was the economy minister for the western German state of Rhineland-Palatinate.

The traffic light arrangement there has worked so well under the leadership of the SPD’s Malu Dreyer, that it was continued following state elections earlier this year. Wissing’s experience in a traffic light, and his involvement now in negotiations at the federal level, could give talks a boost of confidence, Souris said.

Dreyer sees herself as a moderator within a governing team, Souris said, which possibly sets a good example for the federal level. “Olaf Scholz will follow her style quite closely,” he said.

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Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel and Green leader Annalena Baerbock

The history of the traffic light is not positive everywhere. The city-state of Bremen, in northern Germany, had the first-ever such coalition — in 1991. The alliance broke down over a disagreement between the FDP and Greens regarding conservation efforts vs industrial development.

So far, the conditions seem right for the three to find a way to work together. However, differences remain, which could lead to a “very thick coalition agreement with many details spelled out,” he added.

 

 

 

‘Dystopian world’: Singapore patrol robots stoke fears of surveillance state

Singapore is a world  leader in Orwellian surveillance.

If there is a Top Ten for State Instrusion in Private Behavior, Singapore would rank near the top of the list.

Excerpted from The Guardian 10.6.2021

“There are no privacy law constraints on what the government can or cannot do,” said Indulekshmi Rajeswari, a privacy lawyer from Singapore who is now based in Germany.

Singapore has trialled patrol robots that blast warnings at people engaging in “undesirable social behaviour”, adding to an arsenal of surveillance technology in the tightly controlled city-state that is fuelling privacy concerns.

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From vast numbers of CCTV cameras to trials of lampposts kitted out with facial recognition tech, Singapore is seeing an explosion of tools to track its inhabitants.

That includes a three-week trial in September, in which two robots were deployed to patrol a housing estate and a shopping centre.

Officials have long pushed a vision of a hyper-efficient, tech-driven “smart nation”, but activists say privacy is being sacrificed and people have little control over what happens to their data.

 

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Singapore is frequently criticised for curbing civil liberties and people are accustomed to tight controls, but there is still growing unease at intrusive tech.

The government’s latest surveillance devices are robots on wheels, with seven cameras, that issue warnings to the public and detect “undesirable social behaviour”.

This includes smoking in prohibited areas, improperly parking bicycles, and breaching coronavirus social-distancing rules.

“Please keep one-metre distancing, please keep to five persons per group,” a robotic voice blared out, as a camera on top of the machine trained its gaze on them.

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Frannie Teo, a 34-year-old research assistant, was walking through the mall during the recent robot patrol trial.

“It reminds me of Robocop,” she said.

It brings to mind a “dystopian world of robots … I’m just a bit hesitant about that kind of concept,” she added.

Digital rights activist Lee Yi Ting said the devices were the latest way Singaporeans were being watched.

“It all contributes to the sense people … need to watch what they say and what they do in Singapore to a far greater extent than they would in other countries,” she told Agence France-Presse.

But the government defended its use of robots, saying they were not being used to identify or take action against offenders during the tech’s trial, and were needed to address a labour crunch as the population ages.

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“The workforce is actually shrinking,” said Ong Ka Hing, from the government agency that developed the Xavier robots, adding they could help reduce the number of officers needed for foot patrols.

The island of about 5.5 million people has 90,000 police cameras, a number set to double by 2030, and facial recognition tech – which helps authorities pick out faces in a crowd – may be installed on lampposts across the city.

There was a rare public backlash this year when authorities admitted coronavirus contract-tracing data collected by an official system had been accessed by police. The government later passed legislation to limit its use.

But critics say the city-state’s laws generally put few limitations on government surveillance, and Singaporeans have little control over what happens to the data collected.

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https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/oct/06/dystopian-world-singapore-patrol-robots-stoke-fears-of-surveillance-state

Jewish musician wearing Star of David banned at Westin Hotel in Germany

Germany’s Nazi era crashed and burned over 80 years ago but the plague of antisemitism still rears its ugly face in the European nation.

Things have changed in at least one positive way. Jewish people and their supporters will react with solidarity when attacked.  That is the only way to fight these abhorrent philosophies. Rise up and strike back.

Excerpted from Deutsche Welle 10.5.2021

A hotel in the eastern German city of Leipzig was facing accusations of antisemitism on Tuesday after a musician said he was denied service for wearing a Star of David.

The incident  sparked swift condemnation from Germany’s Jewish communities.

“The antisemitic hostility against Gil Ofarim is appalling,” Josef Schuster, the president of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, said in a statement posted on Twitter.

He said he hoped the Westin would take action against those involved and hoped that Jewish people in Germany “will be met with solidarity in the future whenever we are attacked.”

In a video posted on social media, German musician Gil Ofarim said he attempted to check in to the Hotel Westin in Leipzig on Monday evening. Ofarim, who is Jewish, was wearing a necklace with a Star of David pendant.

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Protesters at Westin Hotel in Leipzig, Germany

Due to technical issues with the hotel’s computers, a long line had formed at the reception. Ofarim noticed that others in the line were waved forward, but he was not called up. “What’s going on? Why is everyone else being called up ahead of me?” Ofarim says he asked the worker behind the desk.

The hotel employee then told him they were trying to reduce the line, but did not acknowledge that Ofarim was also standing in line.

“Then someone called out from the corner: ‘Put your star away,'” the singer says.

Ofarim said that the hotel worker then repeated the call for Ofarim to remove or hide his Star of David, saying that “once you put it away, then you can check in.” A visibly upset Ofarim ends the video with the words: “Germany, 2021.”

 

Police ‘informed’ about incident

Leipzig police told DW they were alerted to Ofarim’s video and were currently processing it.

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How has the hotel responded?

A spokesperson for the Westin Leipzig told news agency dpa that the hotel was deeply concerned and was taking the case “extremely seriously.”

Ofarim did not name the hotel in his video, but at one point tilted the camera in such a way that it could be identified.

Protesters gather in Leipzig

The incident described in Ofarim’s video prompted a wave of shocked responses on social media. On Tuesday evening, hundreds of protesters in Leipzig gathered in front of the hotel to demonstrate against antisemitism.

At least 600 people were in attendance, according to local newspaper Leipziger Zeitung. Hotel employees also stood near the entrance, holding up a banner in what appeared to be a show of solidarity.

The 39-year-old is the son of Israeli star musician Abi Ofarim.

Himself a singer and songwriter, Ofarim has played in two rock bands and has released music in German and in English.

In 2017, he won “Let’s Dance,” the German version of the celebrity ballroom dancing show Dancing with the Stars or Strictly Come Dancing, and has also acted in several TV shows and done voiceover work for dubbed films.

https://www.dw.com/en/put-your-star-away-jewish-singer-refused-service-at-german-hotel/a-59415284