German Jews Call for ‘Clarification’ From German Broadcaster Over Sitcom Writer Accused of Antisemitism
Jewish groups have condemned German public television broadcaster ZDF for hiring a woman accused of antisemitic statements as a comedy writer for a TV sitcom.
Feyza-Yasmin Ayhan, also known under the stage name Yasmin Poesy, has been accused of repeated antisemitic remarks, including the posting on social media networks of a cartoon showing Jews with hooked noses. In 2015, the Berlin resident participated at an event by the Hamas-affiliated German Youth for Palestine, where she spoke in favor of justifying violence against Israel and hoped for an end to the Jewish state.
In an interview with Germany’s Bild Zeitung, antisemitism commissioner Felix Klein said that “private antisemitic statements” are “covered by freedom of expression if they are not criminally relevant.”
However, he said, “as with right-wing extremism, in all forms of antisemitism, care must be taken not to place people who have attracted attention in positions that they could use to spread Jew-hatred. Germany has a historic responsibility on the issue,” Klein remarked.
“Public broadcasters should therefore always carefully examine who they are giving the floor to,” he added.
Klein demanded “urgent clarification” from the ZDF and suggested that the writer herself also comment on the allegations.
The American Jewish Committee’s Berlin office lamented: “Yasmin Ayhan has repeatedly attracted attention in the past with antisemitic and Israel-hating content. In particular, a public broadcaster like ZDF must not accept antisemitism as part of the democratic discourse.”
In reaction to the allegations, a ZDF spokeswoman told Bild: “Basically, all productions commissioned by ZDF are editorially checked and their content approved.”
The controversy comes after German public television station Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR) last month announced that German-Palestinian journalist Nemi El-Hassan was no longer set to moderate its science-focused “Quarks” program over allegations of antisemitism. The decision came after it resurfaced that El-Hassan attended the anti-Israel Al-Quds demonstration in Berlin in 2014, among other accusations.
Prior to the WDR’s action, Josef Schuster, President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, stated that the broadcasting station has “a great responsibility not to present anyone on the screen who could spread hatred of Israel and antisemitism.”