Scarcely a year has gone by since Deutsche Welle, the German state broadcaster, found itself immured in an antisemitism scandal, with at least five members of its Arabic-language staff forced to resign when their antisemitic posts came to light. Now the broadcaster finds itself again in trouble, and for the same reason – allowing an antisemitic propagandist, and member of the terror group Hamas, to squirt his anti-Israel venom on air. More on this can be found here: “Hamas Official Interviewed on German Public TV in Latest ‘Antisemitic’ Scandal,” by Ben Cohen, Algemeiner, January 6, 2023:
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.
The first grave error by Deutsche Welle was in failing to properly identify Hazem Qassem. Listeners were not told that he belonged to Hamas, long recognized as a terror group by, among others, Canada, Israel, Japan, Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and all the members of the EU, including Germany. Knowing that Qassem was a member of that terror group, and not just a member, but its spokesman, was an important part of the story; it would certainly have affected what credence would be given by listeners to his spittle-flecked venom. And Deutsche Welle also ought to have explained that while terrorism is the means Hamas employs, the goal of Hamas, as expressed in its 1988 Charter, is the complete destruction of the Jewish state, “from the river to the sea,” and its replacement by a Palestinian Arab state. Instead, Qassem was simply described as a “Palestinian,” which vague identification obscured more than it revealed. He ought to have been introduced thus: “Hazem Qassem is a member and spokesman of the terror group Hamas. The goal of Hamas is to destroy, either at one fell swoop or in stages, the state of Israel and the expulsion, or killing, of all of its Jews.”
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.”
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.”
Apparently that attempt to “educate the editorial staff” was a failure, for who but someone deeply unsympathetic to Israel and to Jews would have permitted Hazem Qassem, unidentified as a Hamas spokesman, to spread his viciousness unchecked, when he described Israel’s government as “terrorist, fascist, racist like never before” and threatening an “escalation [of terrorism] at all levels.” Would David Duke be allowed on DW to denounce black Americans as “murderous drug-addled hoodlums who rape our white women” without being identified as a former KKK-Grand Wizard and neo-Nazi?
The details of the previous antisemitic scandal at Deutsche Welle, revealed this past February, can be found here: “German Public Broadcaster Dismisses Journalists Following Report Into Antisemitism Scandal Involving Arab Media Partners,” by Ben Cohen, Algemeiner, February 7, 2022:
The investigation was commissioned at the beginning of December, after exposes in the Suddeutsche Zeitung news outlet and the German-language version of Vice revealed that several employees of DW’s Arabic department had made antisemitic remarks, had affiliations with antisemitic organizations or had posted crudely anti-Jewish messages on social media.
In the immediate aftermath of the scandal, DW suspended five of its journalists and was forced to break partnership agreements with broadcasters in the Arab world, among them Roya TV in Jordan and Al Jadeed TV in Lebanon.
The investigation team — composed of Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, a former federal justice minister, and Beatrice Mansour and Ahmad Mansour, psychologists who have worked extensively on antisemitism in the Muslim community — stated that while there was no “structural antisemitism” in DW’s Arabic department, several omissions and errors had been noted in recruiting, in journalistic research and in the selection of guests for programs.
For example, one Turkish contributor to the channel, Hamza Tekin, continued to be invited on air even after he refused to take part in a live discussion with an Israeli journalist, Shlomo Ganor. The report also recommended that DW end ties with the Palestinian Ma’an news agency and the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation (PBC).
The suspension of five employees for antisemitic comments on social media had been “justified,” the investigators said. Among the posts they examined was one from Bassel Aridi, who was appointed as DW’s bureau chief in Beirut in 2019. “Anyone who has anything to do with the Israelis is a collaborator and every recruit in the ranks of their army is a traitor and must be executed,” Aridi tweeted on June 1, 2014, in a post that was later deleted.
On Monday, DW’s senior management announced the publication of a 10-point action plan to combat antisemitism internally. The measures include adopting a definition of antisemitism which incorporates both the denial of Israel’s right to exist and the trivialization of the Holocaust, a code of conduct that will clearly identify “red lines” for employees, and the creation of a “competence team” to ensure that core values like the right of Israel to exist as a sovereign state are respected.
Peter Limbourg, DW’s director, told journalists on Monday that the five staff members who were suspended were now being formally terminated. Another eight employees were having the allegations against them “investigated thoroughly” in order to “avert further damage to DW.”
Limbourg said that he and his colleagues at DW were “sincerely sorry” for the scandal [that broke in February 2022, before the present one]. “The mere suspicion that there is antisemitism in a German taxpayer-financed institution must be unbearable for Jews in this country and worldwide,” Limbourg said. “We have to make our position much clearer in the future. Freedom of expression is never a justification for antisemitism, hatred of Israel and denial of the Holocaust.”
However, the report was criticized by one prominent human rights activist for pulling its punches on the degree of antisemitism at DW.
Calling the five terminated employees “sacrificial pawns,” Volker Beck — a former member of parliament for the Green Party who now co-chairs Germany’s Tikvah Institute for combating antisemitism — said that DW had failed to recognize that what occurred was not “an operational accident, but a systemic failure.”…
That previous scandal, and its resolution, ought to have made the staff at Deutsche Welle especially vigilant about allowing violent and antisemitic tirades by those whom it chooses to allow on its broadcasts. Hazem Qassem’s wild charge describing the Israeli government as “terrorist, fascist, racist like never before” and his threat of an “escalation at all levels” – a clear call for violence against the Jewish state — ought never to have been allowed on the air. From the January 6 report:
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.”…
Hazem Qassem did not “report on the formation of the Israeli government.” He simply lashed out with a tirade of hysterical charges aimed at Israel; that is a different thing.
Will those responsible at DW for inviting Hamas’ Qassem on the air to broadcast his antisemitic venom to millions all over the world, lose their jobs? Or if that is considered too drastic, might they be reassigned to cover subjects other than the Israel-Palestinian conflict — say, deforestation in Brazil, or the declining honeybee population — where they can do less harm?