Germany’s state media outlet cuts ties with Arab partner over ‘anti-Semitic’ content
State-owned broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) has halted its partnership with a Jordanian TV channel over “anti-Semitic” social media posts, and is investigating allegedly bigoted commentary by some of its own employees.
The German outlet announced on Sunday that it was suspending cooperation with Jordan’s Roya TV after discovering that the partner had allegedly been spreading anti-Semitic comments and cartoons through its social media channels. DW said it regretted its previous assessment that had found no anti-Israel bias on the Amman-based privately owned channel.
“We are truly sorry that we did not notice these disgusting images,” DW managing director Guido Baumhauer said in a statement. “We will now even more critically review our partner selection internally, especially with regard to anti-Semitism and racism.”
DW also pledged to crack down on anti-Semitism and anti-Israeli sentiment among its own ranks. In an investigation that centered on the German broadcaster’s Arabic news service, Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper last week reported that several DW employees, including Beirut bureau chief Bassel Aridi, had made comments downplaying the Holocaust and repeating stereotypes about Jews.
Some of the alleged comments reportedly included calling for the execution of any “traitor” who engaged with Israelis. One editor was reported to have bragged about breaking off a conversation with a woman after discovering she was Jewish, and had later called the Holocaust a “fabrication.” Another staffer apparently wrote of her willingness to join the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorist group if it fought a war to oust Israel from the Holy Land.
DW said the employees accused of anti-Semitism had been suspended pending an independent investigation of the matter. The company enlisted former German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger and psychologist Ahmad Mansour to carry out the probe, which will scrutinize comments made by employees both in their private social media networks and in work they’ve undertaken for other media outlets.
The Bonn-based firm has about 3,000 employees and freelancers in 60 countries, and produces content in 32 languages. Taxpayer-funded, DW received federal allowances of over €410.7 million ($464 million) in 2020.