Palestinian journalist takes Deutsche Welle to court

Two people stand next to large sign

Peter Limbourg, left, the director of Deutsche Welle, stands next a sign extolling “freedom of speech,” a right journalists at the German state broadcaster do not enjoy. (K. Danetzki/Deutsche Welle)

A Palestinian-Jordanian journalist fired by Deutsche Welle is taking her case to court.

Farah Maraqa was dismissed by the German state broadcaster in February amid a purge of Arab journalists.

At a preliminary hearing on Wednesday, a judge heard from lawyers for both Maraqa and Deutsche Welle. The Electronic Intifada has learned that the parties will now submit written motions before the next hearing set for July.

Maraqa has set up a crowdfunding campaign to help pay the costs of her legal action “on the basis of unjust termination” and an “anti-Semitic defamation campaign.”

On the same day Deutsche Welle fired Maraqa and four other Arab journalists, the state broadcaster published a deeply biased and misleading report concluding that they deserved dismissal for statements that “amounted to anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial or Holocaust relativism, as well as statements that denied Israel’s right to exist.”
That report was co-authored by a former German justice minister and Ahmad Mansour, a psychologist whose anti-Muslim, anti-Arab and pro-Israel views have made him a darling of German media and state-funded institutions.

A week later, Deutsche Welle fired two more Palestinian journalists.

The purge comes amid an accelerating crackdown on media freedoms in the European Union under the banner of fighting “disinformation.”

Last May, Deutsche Welle issued internal guidelines severely limiting the freedom of its journalists and on-air guests to criticize or accurately describe Israel.

This followed a live interview with this writer criticizing the German government’s complicity with Israel’s bombardment of Gaza that annihilated entire Palestinian families in their homes.

Earlier this month, Deutsche Welle employees held what the network labeled – with no apparent sense of irony – “media freedom” rallies in solidarity with colleagues in Ukraine.
Meanwhile, as it purges Palestinian and other Arab journalists under the guise of fighting “anti-Semitism,” the German state broadcaster has been busy in recent weeks whitewashing actual Nazis, like Ukraine’s Azov Battalion.

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Germany regularly deploys its monstrous past as a tool for incriminating others. In doing so, the Federal Republic achieves a spurious innocence, or rather an innocent and highly valuable form of guilt. Indeed, Germany's war guilt has long functioned as a kind of currency which can be spent in the public market of ideas.

Here we see Deutsche Welle citing as one of its main objectives the duty to overcome the German past by adopting another racist state as a kind of mascot. As Deutsche Welle's internal memo declares, "Germany's past in carrying out the Holocaust means it has a special responsibility towards Israel. The Holocaust's legacy and Germany's working through its past... are cornerstones of the country's constitution and guiding principles of German policy."

Such statements reveal a perverse pride in putting forward one's own horrific misdeeds as a unique moral qualification both for shaping policy and for subjecting others to judgement. This claim is particularly noisome when coupled with an orientation which endorses the one state most closely adhering to the ideology Germany claims to abhor in its own past. All the while, the nation walks in the footsteps laid out by previous German regimes- silencing dissent, controlling media, sacking workers, and threatening free speech advocates with imprisonment.

The Palestinian journalists mentioned here represent just one cohort of those who are deemed exponents of unacceptable views. They deserve our respect and our support. Please keep us apprised of their case. And let's all violate German policy every day by raising our voices on behalf of Palestine- from the river to the sea.

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