Court upholds musician’s firing for behavior during Israel tour

FRANKFURT, Nov. 9 (JTA) – A German court has upheld the firing of a Berlin Opera employee for his offensive behavior in Israel. Gerd Reinke, who was a musician with the opera company when it toured Israel last May, was dismissed after he signed a hotel bar bill with the name “Adolf Hitler.” The bassist sued to get back his job, claiming the loss of his job was too harsh a punishment for an incident that he had maintained was a joke. Reinke also claimed that he did not remember the incident because he had consumed too much alcohol. During the trial, the prosecutor said Reinke’s behavior had harmed the image of the Berlin Opera and of Germany. The court, upholding Reinke’s dismissal, said his removal was the only way to continue the opera company’s tour in Israel. The outcry in Israel and Germany over the incident had made it impossible for the opera company to continue employing Reinke, the court added. Reinke’s lawyer called the court ruling harsh because it ruins his client’s professional reputation. The court agreed that its ruling was drastic but said the musician was responsible for his behavior. Reinke also has lost teaching jobs with the city of Berlin. Other orchestras who had scheduled him for guest performances have cancelled his appearances. The German orchestra union terminated his membership. The musician, who later apologized for the incident, has insisted that he is not anti-Semitic.

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