German news agency accused of ‘weaponizing’ anti-Semitism in sacking of journalists

German broadcaster Deutsche Welle (Yuri Kadobnov - AFP)

Middle East Monitor  /  February 8, 2022

Two journalists, Palestinian, Maram Salem and Jordanian, Farah Maraqa, have been dismissed from their job by German media network, Deutsche Welle, following allegations of anti-Semitism which the accused have claimed are dubious and baseless.

Sharing details of their dismissal on social media, Salem and Maraqa, slammed Deutsche Welle over its decision, which comes over month after the German public state-owned international broadcaster announced the suspension of four employees and a contractor, including Maraqa and Salem, and that it had initiated investigation into allegations that they had expressed anti-Semitic views in relation to the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

In a late November statement, Deutsche Welle said that its investigation “will look into the comments by DW employees quoted in the article which were published in other media and on their personal social media profiles.”

Commenting on her dismissal Maraqa said: “I just have been notified, without further explanations that I will receive a notice of termination from Deutsche Welle with immediate effect. I have not yet been informed about the reasons, nor been handed out the report on which these allegations shall be based!”

In a Facebook post, Salem said that she was “scapegoated” and that the decision to expel her was an “arbitrary measure” based on “dishonest rumours.”

Salem explained that a journalist from Germany had published a report accusing her and other colleagues of anti-Semitism and being anti-Israel. The allegations were based on comments that were published on Facebook.

In the case of Salem, the Palestinian journalist said that the post which sparked allegations of anti-Semitism contained no mention of Jews or Israel. “In my case, my post had no expression explicit or implicit of anti-Semitism and did not mention Israel at all,” said Salem, pointing out that her post only spoke of the threat to freedom of expression in Europe.

“How is it at all possible that an international media company that supposedly calls for freedoms would expel an employee for criticizing freedom of expression in Europe?” Salem asked.

Questioning the neutrality of the investigation process, Salem said that it was not “objective as an Israeli person was hired on the external investigation committee”. Salem claims that she was targeted because of her Palestinian identity.

Salem has further claimed that the German publication has shut down Palestinian voices and their experience. “Deutsche Welle considered itself the only party to set the criteria for ‘the truth about the conflict'” said Salem. She claimed that “one’s mere identity as a Palestinian is sufficient to be accused of anti-Semitism.”

A group of activists have issued a joint statement in support of Maraqa and Salem. “We, the undersigned journalists and human rights activists, demand Deutsche Welle justice for the Arab journalists who work thereto, including the Jordanian Journalist (Farah Maraqa), after being suspended from work in December 2021,” the statement said.

“Maraqa’s shedding light on the suffering of the Palestinians at the West Bank and Gaza Strip and the violation of their human rights due to Israel’s practices and policies as an occupying force according to international law, cannot be distorted and taken out of context, and considered as ‘anti-Semitism,'” the statement continued.

The statement urged media platforms no to weaponized allegations of anti-Semitism in order to silence journalists, media professionals and human rights defenders.