Friday, January 28th | 26 Shevat 5782

December 12, 2021 3:18 pm

The Perils of Broadcasting in Arabic

avatar by Ben Cohen /


A vehicle belonging to German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle. Photo: Reuters/Imago images – It’s been a lousy week for the taxpayer-funded German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW), bookended by no less than two antisemitism scandals involving its Arabic language service and its partners in the Middle East.

Like the BBCVoice of AmericaFrance24 and similar channels, the purpose of DW is to bring a German perspective to international affairs, and it broadcasts in more than 30 languages. Because it is funded from the German public purse with around $400 million annually, its editorial practices are subject to legal regulation. Content that pushed overt racism, antisemitism or any other form of prejudice would be frowned upon. News reporting that covers an issue comprehensively and fairly, without overly prejudicing the audience, is the basic standard that is expected.

What that means, essentially, is that reporters and editors have to leave whatever strong opinions they may have at the door when are they on the job. And what DW has discovered is that the strong opinions of certain Arabic-service staff have poisoned its reporting of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and stained the broadcaster with the taint of antisemitism.

It was an investigative article in the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) newspaper at the beginning of December that first exposed the rot inside DW’s Arabic service. Several of its employees and contractors had made viciously antisemitic comments that were on the public record, while others even had affiliations with antisemitic organizations, like the news desk editor who previously worked as a correspondent for the newspaper of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP), a Nazi-inspired organization whose symbol is a variant of the swastika.

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