Berlin (In Palestine Today)- German public state-owned international broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DM) announced on Sunday it has suspended its cooperation with Jordanian media partner, Roya TV, claiming the broadcaster spreads anti-Semitic content and caricatures on social media.
Because of claims of anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic content and caricatures on the social media of Roya TV, DM said it has suspended its partnership with the broadcaster, saying the broadcaster’s social media channels are “definitely not consistent with the values of DW,” the Associated Press reported.
“We are truly sorry that we did not notice these disgusting images. Following the posts in question by Roya TV we must re-evaluate our cooperation,” said DW senior executive Guido Baumhauer in a statement on Sunday.
“Several pieces of content disseminated via the broadcaster’s social media channels are definitely not consistent with the values of DW. We will now even more critically review our partner selection internally, especially with regard to antisemitism and racism,” Baumhauer claimed.
The company said that it “vehemently” distances itself from such content and “regrets its initial assessment that Roya TV is not anti-Israel.”
DW said it originally decided to have a partnership with Roya TV because the broadcaster addressed issues such as gender equality, the rights of minorities in Jordan and promoting young people’s media literacy.
The Associated Press reported that on Friday, DW said in a separate case that it was suspending four employees and one freelancer during an investigation into allegations that they expressed “anti-Israel and antisemitic views.”
German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung had quoted social media comments allegedly made by members of DW’s Arabic service.
According to Lebanese journalist Mariam Albassam, head of political news in Al Jadeed TV Channel, Deutsche Welle’s Beirut Bureau Chief Bassel Aridi is amongst the journalists who were suspended based on a tweet he had written in 2014.
In his 7 years old now-removed tweet, Aridi had expressed his support for the prosecution of Lebanese citizens who admitted to cooperating with ‘Israel’ against Lebanese interests.
DW said it requested an independent external investigation. The probe will be conducted by former German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger and psychologist Ahmad Mansour, according to the Associated Press.
DW has long been criticized for its biased reporting on Israeli violations against Palestinians.
Last May, during Israel’s deadly aggression on the Gaza Strip, DW distributed an internal memo to its journalists, forbidding them to make, or let any guest make any connection between the state of ‘Israel’ and colonialism.
In the reporting guide sent to the staff, DW’s editorial board banned its reporters and editors from covering Israeli crimes of “apartheid” and persecution of Palestinians.
The two-page reporting guide, which was leaked and shared on social media, underlined that the Holocaust’s legacy and Germany’s special responsibility towards ‘Israel’ remain cornerstones of the country’s constitution and its foreign policy.
“As DW, we never question Israel’s right to exist as a state or allow people in our coverage to do so,” the broadcaster’s Editor-in-Chief Manuela Kasper-Claridge told the staff.
“We never refer to an Israeli ‘apartheid’ or an ‘apartheid regime’ in Israel. We also avoid referring to ‘colonialism’ or ‘colonialists’,” the document also noted.
“We respect freedom of speech and opinion and people’s right to criticize any of the sides involved. However, criticism of Israel becomes antisemitism when it attempts to tarnish, discredit and delegitimize the state of Israel or Jewish people and culture per se.”
In the same context, an Israeli flag was put up in front of the headquarters of Axel Springer, a Berlin-based agency, as there were pro-Palestinian demonstrations across Germany, chanting slogans in support of Palestine following the latest Israeli aggression on Gaza.
Following the incident, the CEO of Axel Springer told the company’s 16,000 employees to find another job if they have a problem with an Israeli flag being raised outside the company headquarters in Berlin.
Workers who complained about an Israeli flag being posted outside Europe’s largest digital publishing house should look for new jobs, Axel Springer CEO told the employees in June 17.
There are several cases highlighting the shrinking space for Palestine advocacy in Germany, where pro-Palestinian speech is dismissed and framed almost automatically as antisemitic.
Pro-Palestine censorship in Germany escalated following the passage of an anti-BDS resolution in the German parliament in 2019.
By categorizing the movement as antisemitic, the resolution effectively restricted all organizations that endorse BDS from accessing public funds and public space.
The silencing of Palestine advocates also goes beyond the BDS debate, as it is rooted in Germany’s long standing ideological support for ‘Israel’. It is partly in Germany’s efforts to atone for the Holocaust.
In 2017, Germany adopted the contoversial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism.
In 2020, Germany took over the chairmanship of IHRA.
The IHRA definition includes problematic examples of antisemitism that have been criticised by human rights groups as well as some liberal Zionist organisations.
Some of the most controversial examples of antisemitism provided by the IHRA include banning anyone from “applying double standards by requiring of Israel a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation”.
Another example presented in the IHRA definition: “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, eg, by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”
The definition is simply designed to silence criticism of ‘Israel’ and of Zionism by equating this criticism with antisemitism.
The examples have also been used by Israel lobby groups to disrupt the activities of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement around the world by claiming that a boycott of Israel is anti-Semitic.