Hugely Inconvenient Fact for Palestinian Arab Journalist Fired By DW Over Post Deemed Antisemitic
Palestestian Arab journalist Maram Salem has spoken out against her firing from Deutsche Welle for alleged antisemitism, claiming she was just engaging in legitimate criticism of Israel, while attacking DW management for censorship and a flawed investigation.
A Palestinian journalist, who was fired by Germany’s international broadcaster for alleged anti-Semitic views, has strongly criticised the management for unfair treatment and censoring freedom of speech.
“I’m not anti-Semitic. I am someone who believes in freedom of speech,” Maram Salem said in an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency on Thursday, adding that criticism on Israeli policies does not amount to anti-Semitism.
Deutsche Welle announced earlier this week that it fired five journalists from DW’s Arabic service after its two-month investigation into allegations of anti-Semitism.
Salem dismissed allegations against her as “a scandal”, saying that she has always defended democratic principles, freedom of expression and religion, and human rights.
The young journalist said Deutsche Welle’s investigation was not conducted in an impartial and objective manner, and was also used by the management as a tool to justify a pre-determined outcome.
“In my case, my post was about freedom of speech in Europe. I criticised the situation in Europe,” she said, adding that her Facebook post, which was investigated by the management, did not even mention Jews or Israel.
“Germany (says) it supports freedom of speech, but (my) saying that there is no freedom of speech in Europe was enough for them to suspend me and actually accuse me of being anti-Semitic,” she said.
The journalist pointed out that anti-Semitism allegations were often used to limit freedom of expression and restrict criticism of Israel’s policies and actions.
“There’s a lot of red lines that you really can’t talk about it here when it comes to Israel. And I think it’s absurd, at least (for me) as a Palestinian who lived in the (occupied ) West Bank for most of her life, that even saying normal stuff about what Israel is doing in the West Bank and (blockaded) Gaza, can be and will be held against me in Germany,” she said.
The TRT World report above goes on to paint DW as biased “as its management argues that Germany bears special responsibility for the country, due to the Nazi crimes committed against Jews during World War II.”
What Salem, TRT World, and others are not mentioning is that the person who jointly led DW’s investigation is an Israeli-Arab, and he says the statements were antisemitic and not mere “legitimate criticism of Israel”:
The Israeli-Arab psychologist who jointly led an investigation into claims of antisemitism at the Arabic language service of Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s state-funded national broadcaster, has firmly rejected the assertion that his probe will result in the censorship of pro-Palestinian viewpoints going forward.
“The statements we have criticized are not legitimate criticism of Israel,” Ahmad Mansour told the Suddeutsche Zeitung news outlet in an extensive interview on Thursday. “It’s far too easy to assume the role of a victim now.”
The investigation, which Mansour led alongside Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, a former federal justice minister, was commissioned at the beginning of December, after exposes in the Suddeutsche Zeitung 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 investigation’s immediate aftermath, five employees of DW’s Arabic service were fired, with disciplinary proceedings currently in motion against a further eight.
DW has also adopted 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.
Mansour said that social media chatter about the “muzzling” of pro-Palestinian voices following the investigation was a clumsy attempt to turn concerns about antisemitism into a freedom of speech issue.
“I would like to see a discussion begin now about where criticism of Israel ends and antisemitism begins; the Arab world urgently needs this debate,” Mansour said. “Of course there is legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies — and it is necessary, I say that as an Israeli. But what the SZ published, and what we found in addition, was partly classic antisemitism, partly glorification of violence.”
Continued Mansour: “If someone writes that they want to support ISIS if it were to point its weapons at Jerusalem — where, please, is criticism of Israel here?”
Mansour said the assertion made by some observers in Germany that the fired employees were “sacrificial pawns” and that their job termination without a valid reason was unfair.
“DW must be given the chance to change something now,” he said. “The Central Council of Jews in Germany has suggested taking another look at the station in three months. I think that makes more sense than passing judgment on the day the investigative report is published.”
Mansour, who has worked extensively on combating antisemitism within the Muslim community, also addressed the charge that he had “betrayed his Palestinian roots” by participating in the investigation.
“I have seen even more extreme accusations,” he responded. “I am not a Zionist, I am a Palestinian, an Israeli citizen and a German. A Jewish state has the right to exist. I do not always agree with its policies. But one has to talk about terror, antisemitism and the rejection of Israel’s right to exist.”
That’s one hell of a mic drop.