Deutsche Welle illegally fired Palestinian journalist, German court rules

Ali Abunimah

The Electronic Intifada  /  July 8, 2022

German government broadcaster Deutsche Welle, which markets itself as a champion of free speech, illegally fired a Palestinian journalist after falsely accusing her of anti-Semitism. (via Facebook)

A court in Germany has declared that Deutsche Welle unlawfully fired a Palestinian journalist based on false accusations of anti-Semitism.

Maram Salem was among a group of Arab journalists fired by the government broadcaster following an official smear campaign accusing them of anti-Jewish bigotry because of comments or criticisms about Israel.

On Wednesday, the labor court in Bonn ruled Salem’s dismissal to be invalid.

“The Facebook posts she was accused of were not anti-Semitic and the termination was unlawful, the court stated during the hearing,” according to a statement provided by her lawyer Ahmed Abed.

Salem “explained that she has long been an advocate for women’s rights, human rights, animal rights and LGBTQ and the accusations hit her hard. She called on DW to take responsibility, publicly apologize and retract the allegations,” the statement adds.

The court threw out the anti-Semitism allegations of investigators Ahmad Mansour, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger and Beatrice Mansour, the statement says.

Ahmad Mansour, a Palestinian-German psychologist with close ties to the Israel lobby, and Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, a former German justice minister, were commissioned by Deutsche Welle to investigate alleged anti-Semitism at the channel.

Mansour’s anti-Muslim, anti-Arab and pro-Israel views have made him a darling of German media and state-funded institutions.

In February, Deutsche Welle fired Salem along with several other journalists based on their report.

Deutsche Welle, which masquerades as a champion of free speech and a free press, had tried to portray Salem’s mention of “illegal Israeli occupation as anti-Semitic,” according to the statement from her lawyer.

“The verdict shows that the smear campaigns against Palestinian women like me or Nemi El-Hassan can no longer succeed,” Salem said. “It was clear from the beginning that I am innocent.”

El-Hassan is a German journalist of Palestinian ancestry who had her science show canceled by another broadcaster, Westdeutscher Rundfunk.

El-Hassan’s supposed transgression was “liking” Instagram posts on the account of Jewish Voice for Peace, a well-known US-based group that campaigns for Palestinian rights and opposes Zionism, Israel’s state ideology.

“The Bonn Labor Court has made it clear that the strong accusations of anti-Semitism against Maram are without any basis,” lawyer Abed said. “Deutsche Welle should now protectively stand in front of Maram instead of giving in to the agitation.”

The European Legal Support Center, a group that fights anti-Palestinian repression through litigation, hailed Salem’s win as the “first victory in the Deutsche Welle case.”

Farah Maraqa, a Palestinian-Jordanian journalist fired amid the anti-Arab witch hunt, is also suing Deutsche Welle. Her case is still pending.

Unconditional support for Israel is viewed by German elites as a form of atonement for the German government’s murder of millions of European Jews during World War II.

As a consequence, German institutions repress Palestinians and supporters of Palestinian rights using legal harassment, smears, censorship and violence.

Germany’s commitment to supporting Israel’s crimes against Palestinians is so unyielding that it permits Israel to kill German citizens, including children, with total impunity.

But in a hopeful sign that democracy and human rights may be possible in Germany, courts have been pushing back against anti-Palestinian repression.

In another recent defeat for official censorship, the city of Stuttgart acknowledged that it had illegally removed information about a local Palestine support group from its website.

The city has complied with a court ruling and reposted the information.

Ali Abunimah is co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine (Haymarket Books)