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December 21, 2021 12:07 pm

Allegations of Antisemitism Facing Germany’s Public Broadcaster Are ‘Substantial,’ Top Official Says

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A vehicle belonging to German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle. Photo: Reuters/Imago images

The leading federal official tasked with countering antisemitism in Germany has urged the country’s public broadcaster, Deutsche Welle (DW), to “clarify in detail” recent allegations of antisemitism among its Arabic service staff and its media partners in the Arab world.

In an interview with the Judische Allgemeine news outlet, Felix Klein — the German government’s commissioner for combating antisemitism — said that the allegations against DW were “substantial.”

Earlier this month, an investigative article in the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) revealed that several employees of DW’s Arabic department had made antisemitic remarks or had affiliations with antisemitic organizations. Several staff members had posted violently antisemitic messages on social media.

Later that week, following a similar investigation by the German-language edition of Vice, DW announced that it would no longer cooperate with Roya TV, a privately-owned satellite channel based in Amman, because it was spreading antisemitic comments and caricatures. A senior DW executive promised that the taxpayer-funded German broadcaster would “now even more critically review our partner selection internally, especially with regard to antisemitism and racism.”

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Asked how DW should deal with allegations of antisemitism among its partners and staff, Klein emphasized that the law establishing the public broadcaster requires its reporting to be objective and non-partisan.

“Reporting must be independent and must not unilaterally support a particular party or religious community,” Klein said. “Reports that incite hatred are also not permitted. This is clearly specified in the legislation.”

He added that DW had a “particular duty in connection with the Middle East conflict. A sure instinct is required here to report on contrary positions in a balanced manner.”

Regarding DW‘s reporting of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Klein said that “critical reporting” on Israeli policy was acceptable, but that it should avoid antisemitic tropes.

“I consider it perfectly acceptable if permits for further settlements in the West Bank are viewed critically,” Klein said. “But when Jewish settlements are called a ‘cancerous growth,’ that is antisemitic. That is also true when Israel’s dealings with the Palestinians are compared to the Holocaust.”

An independent commission of inquiry into the allegations against DW is due to report its findings in January. The inquiry is jointly headed by Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, a former federal justice minister, and Ahmad Mansour, an Israeli Arab psychologist resident in Berlin who runs a state-funded initiative to counter extremism and antisemitism among Muslim immigrants in Germany.

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