Franco-German TV outlet snubs German Jews’ pleas to air film on antisemitism

By
June 12, 2017 02:27

ARTE, a public television station, came under fire after it nixed the screening of the film it commissioned about antisemitism because it was deemed too 'pro-Israel.'

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An image from the film that was dropped because it depicted antisemitism in a "pro-Israel" light.

An image from the film that was dropped because it depicted antisemitism in a "pro-Israel" light. . (photo credit: screenshot)

The ARTE public television station ignored on Thursday the plea of the chairman of the Central Council of German Jews to show a widely praised documentary film on the growing antisemitism across Europe and the Middle East.

Josef Schuster, the head of the council, urged ARTE’s program director Alain Le Diberder to reconsider, because the film is “highly relevant” in light of the antisemitism “in many milieus of our society.”

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ARTE, joint Franco-German enterprise, and its sister outlet in Germany, WDR (Westdeutscher Rundfunk), faced growing accusations of journalistic antisemitism and censorship over the last week for their decision to spike the 90-minute documentary, titled 'Chosen and Excluded – Jew Hatred in Europe.'

Le Diberder dismissed Schuster’s request to air the film, saying “the decision-making process was so as to ensure editorial quality and responsibility.” Le Diberder previously rejected the film because it lacked “balance.”

Responding to Le Diberder, Chosen and Excluded filmmaker Joachim Schroeder told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday, “It is impossible to make a film [in Europe] today about antisemitism that shows a pro-Jewish perspective.”

Le Diberder said that ARTE has, “like almost no other outlet in Europe, committed itself to education about the fight against antisemitism and anti-Zionism.”

Michaela Englemeier, a Social Democratic deputy in the Bundestag, took aim at ARTE and WDR’s account. She listed in a letter to ARTE Germany executive Wolfgang Bergmann a series of the channel’s programs “hostile to Israel,” including a 2016 report on Israeli water supplies to the Palestinians that can only be understood as an “accelerant for antisemitism.”

Commentators for the large German broadsheet papers Die Welt and Der Tagesspiegel called on Saturday for ARTE to air the documentary that Schroeder and Sophie Hafner made for Schroeder’s Munich-based Preview Production company.

More than 2,000 people have signed a petition on the Change.org website urging ARTE to lift its ban on the film.

Charlotte Knobloch, the chairwoman of the Munich Jewish community and a Holocaust survivor, wrote Le Diberder that ARTE is on a ‘dangerously wrong track.”

In the letter obtained by the Post, Knobloch lauded the film as an “honest” presentation of antisemitism in all walks of life in Europe. Knobloch said ARTE owes it to its viewers, who pay a fee for public programs, to show Chosen and Excluded because it fulfills the outlet’s educational mission to “fight antisemitism.”

A Post request to interview Tom Buhrow, the head of WDR in Cologne, who receives a salary of more than $335,000 a year from taxpayer funds, was not returned.

Ingrid Schmitz, a spokeswoman for WDR, said, “We are intensively examining at this time whether the documentary meets journalistic standards and program principles.”

Schmitz claimed that WDR has questions about the sources used regarding European NGOS that campaign against Israel. The film shows a series of hard-core anti-Israel NGOS including the Catholic Pax Christi, whose German branch supports a boycott of the Jewish state, and the German Protestant churches’ Brot für die Welt (“Bread for the World”), that receive German government funds.

The Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor, which has documented financial misconduct and irregularities among EU-funded NGOs in Israel, was a source for the film. European media frequently cite NGO Monitor’s research numbers.

The film also covers the European-funded NGO World Vision, whose head of Gaza operations Mohammed al-Halabi allegedly siphoned millions of dollars to the EU- and US-designated terrorist entity Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Before the public outrage this month over censorship at ARTE and WDR, editors at the outlets had rejected the film because it was “pro-Israel,” “a provocation,” “pours oil into the fire,” and “shouldn’t be shown because of terrorism.”


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