Court orders Deutsche Welle to reinstate second Palestinian journalist

A woman stands with arms folded

Farah Maraqa, a Palestinian-Jordanian journalist, stood up to Deutsche Welle and won.

Monday was a “date for celebrations,” Farah Maraqa wrote.

The Palestinian-Jordanian journalist had just won her lawsuit against Deutsche Welle.

The German state broadcaster was ordered by the Berlin labor court to reinstate her and pay all her legal costs.

The decisive victory “suggests that the court recognized that Farah’s termination, based on a controversial investigation and unfounded allegations of anti-Semitism related to reports published before her employment contract, was illegal,” said the European Legal Support Center.

ELSC assisted Maraqa in her fight for justice and is working with other journalists in the same situation.

Maraqa was among seven Arab journalists fired by Deutsche Welle in February following an official smear campaign accusing them of anti-Jewish bigotry because of comments or criticisms about Israel.

This is the second court victory related to the politically motivated purge.

In July, a labor court in Bonn ruled that Deutsche Welle unlawfully fired Maram Salem, another Palestinian journalist at the network, based on false accusations of anti-Semitism.

A third case has been settled out of court, while the others are still pending, according to ELSC.

“Clear message”

The firings came following the publication of a report commissioned by Deutsche Welle to look into alleged anti-Semitism at the network.

Written by Ahmad Mansour, a Palestinian-German psychologist with close ties to the Israel lobby, and Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, a former German justice minister, the report accused the journalists of anti-Jewish bigotry because of comments and views critical of Israel.

Mansour’s anti-Muslim, anti-Arab and pro-Israel views have made him a darling of German media and state-funded institutions, as he offers them cover for their own racist perspectives.

“It is a relief that the judge ruled in Farah’s favor and held Deutsche Welle accountable for this illegal dismissal,” ELSC director Giovanni Fassina said. “We hope this sends a clear message that they should stop their censorship practices.”

Fassina added that the case illustrated how institutionalization of the so-called IHRA definition of anti-Semitism – which the report relied on – “can lead to severe infringements upon freedom of expression and freedom of the press.”

Promoted by Israel and its lobby, the IHRA definition conflates criticism of Israel, on the one hand, with anti-Jewish bigotry, on the other. It has become the Israel lobby’s key weapon in North America and Europe to enforce censorship about Israel’s crimes against Palestinians.

“Code of conduct”

Despite its court defeats, there is little sign that Deutsche Welle is backing down from its institutionalized anti-Palestinian policies.

A new compulsory “code of conduct” for Deutsche Welle employees mandates support for Israel.

“Freedom, democracy and human rights are cornerstones of our journalistic and development message and profile,” the code of conduct states.

“We advocate the values of freedom and, wherever we are, take independent and clear positions, especially against any and all kinds of discrimination including sexism, racism and antisemitism. Due to Germany’s history, we have a special obligation towards Israel.”

“Germany’s historical responsibility for the Holocaust is also a reason for which we support the right of Israel to exist,” the document asserts.

Israel’s claim that it has a “right to exist” as a Jewish state on the land of the Palestinians is in effect an assertion that it has a “right” to ethnically cleanse Palestinians and subject them to racist laws aimed at preserving Jewish demographic and political supremacy.

Deutsche Welle’s verbal sleight of hand equates compulsory, unconditional support for Israel’s regime of occupation, apartheid and settler-colonialism – an edifice built and maintained on systemic violence and racism – with anti-racism.

One cannot support “freedom, democracy and human rights” on the one hand, while also supporting Israel’s racist state ideology Zionism on the other.

In contemporary Germany, however, the German government’s extermination of millions of Jews during World War II means that Palestinians now have to be subjected to Israeli-Zionist occupation, killing, forced displacement and colonization, in order to expiate German guilt.

This is a deeply hypocritical position that not only means Germans have learned nothing from their forebears’ crimes, but are happy to impose the costs for those crimes on those who are evidently considered lesser humans.

The racist hierarchy of humanity is evident in the fact that Deutsche Welle expresses no “special obligation,” say, to Namibia or Tanzania, on whose territory Germany perpetrated horrific genocides decades before bringing this same barbarity home to the European continent.

The code of conduct states that it is a “binding set of rules for all Deutsche Welle employees” and encourages workers to confidentially report suspected infringements – hardly an atmosphere where free expression and journalistic exploration of difficult issues can flourish.

Those who are found in breach may be disciplined or fired.

The compulsory anti-Palestinian racism that Deutsche Welle imposes on its employees means that even when those wrongly fired are reinstated, they will continue to work in an environment that dehumanizes them just because of who they are.

Nonetheless, Maraqa’s victory, like Salem’s in July, is a milestone in the fight to end officially sanctioned racism and bigotry in Germany.

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"Due to Germany’s history, we have a special obligation towards Israel.” The illogical nature of this declaration doesn't seem to trouble those who seek to enforce its strictures. But let's accept for a moment that this cynical rationale for backing apartheid is genuinely held. A brief trawl through the historical record will reveal numerous instances in which Germany's past behavior could be cast in a similar light with respect to Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Greece, Yugoslavia- and there's no need to stop at the borders of Europe. Inhabitants of Namibia, of New Guinea and of China carry the historical memory of German colonial rapaciousness. Shouldn't they too be considered candidates for moral and financial redress? Do any of these countries today enjoy such favored treatment as Israel receives through the virtuous handwringing of German officials and mass media? Of course not.

With respect to Farah Maraqa's vindication in court- and yes, it must be said, this was a German Court- and Maram Salem's in July, both reporters are to be congratulated and thanked for their persistence in this matter. Their victory is a victory not only for the freedom to speak the truth about Palestine, but for every German citizen and resident who values the body of rights which the state would strip from them.

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