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January 6, 2023 1:06 pm

Hamas Official Interviewed on German Public TV in Latest ‘Antisemitic’ Scandal

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avatar by Ben Cohen

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

The director of Germany’s state-funded national broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) is apologizing for allegations of antisemitism at the network for the second time in less than a year, amid a furor over the broadcast of comments from a Hamas spokesman that failed to provide any broader context.

“The editors made mistakes here, which we expressly regret and have corrected,” DW’s director Peter Limbourg said in a statement, after the station broadcast a report on Tuesday that featured Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qassem calling Israel’s newly-elected right-wing government “terrorist, fascist, racist like never before” and threatening an “escalation at all levels.”

The first broadcast of the report omitted to mention Qassem’s affiliation with Hamas and did not include any explanation of the Islamist organization’s declared goal of eliminating Israel as a sovereign Jewish state. After these lapses were pointed out, the video was reedited to account for them.

Limbourg said those responsible for the initial version of the report had been “strongly admonished.” He emphasized that he viewed this latest incident with “particular regret because we have made tremendous efforts over the past year to educate the editorial staff on the issues of antisemitism and hatred of Israel.”

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In Feb. 2022, an independent investigation into virulent antisemitism in DW’s Arabic language department resulted in the firing of five employees and the termination of partnerships with broadcasters in Jordan and Lebanon. At the time, Limbourg said that he was “sincerely sorry” for the scandal, adding: “The mere suspicion that there is antisemitism in a German taxpayer-financed institution must be unbearable for Jews in this country and worldwide. Freedom of expression is never a justification for antisemitism, hatred of Israel and denial of the Holocaust.”

The broadcast of Qassem’s comments drew sharp condemnation from the head of Germany’s Jewish community. “Critical reports about the new Israeli government are important. But DW is once again overshooting the mark and spreading propaganda from the terrorist group Hamas,” Josef Schuster — president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany — said on Twitter.

Schuster urged DW to “finally solve its antisemitism problem.”

A spokesperson for DW had earlier told the news outlet Bild that Qassem’s inclusion in the report was justified, saying, “We consider a statement from the Palestinian side in reporting on the formation of the Israeli government to be appropriate.”

The notion that Hamas represents the “Palestinian side” was challenged by Volker Beck, a former parliamentarian who now heads the Germany-Israel Friendship Society (DIG). Slamming the organization’s “anti-Israel tirades,” Beck charged that when it came to coverage of Israel, DW’s “political compass is flawed.”

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