German Public TV demonizes Israel’s water policy report, unleashes storm of criticism

A German public television broadcast, which accused Israel of failing to provide adequate water to Palestinians, is embroiled in a row over allegations it demonized the Jewish state.

Anti-Israel demonstration in Jordan (photo credit: REUTERS)
Anti-Israel demonstration in Jordan
(photo credit: REUTERS)
BERLIN – A German public television broadcast that accused Israel of failing to provide adequate water to Palestinians in the West Bank is now embroiled in a row over allegations it demonized the Jewish state.
Since the show from ARD’s studio in Tel Aviv aired on August 14, the program and its journalists have faced sharp criticism from politicians, viewers and media experts.
“Why did Tagesschau broadcast a badly researched – or even not researched report – quote a questionable ‘expert’ and convey falsehoods?” asked Social Democratic Bundestag deputy Michaela Engelmeier on her Facebook page, saying she expects the supervisory board of the public station will address the report and issue a correction.
The water expert Engelmeier referenced is Clemens Messerschmid, a German national who lives in the West Bank and has contributed articles to pro-boycott Israel and anti-Semitic websites, including the German-language Muslim-Markt website, which supports Iran’s regime. Germany’s intelligence agency has monitored Muslim-Markt and said it propagates “anti-Zionist and anti-Israel propaganda.”
Avraham Nir-Feldklein, the deputy chief of Israel’s embassy in Berlin, told the Bild newspaper the ARD report contained “one-sided and false accusations against Israel and did not ask for Israel’s position.”
ARD reporters Susanne Glass and Markus Rosch wrote on the station’s website that they could not find Israeli experts because of the “Jewish holiday.” They did not specify to what “holiday” they were referring. In any case, critics said there was no time-sensitive requirement for the report and that the journalists should have waited to secure comments from Israeli hydrology experts.
Two days after the ARD report, BILD journalist Antje Schippmann spoke with two Israeli water experts – Uri Schor, spokesman of the Israeli Water Authority, and Haim Gvirtzman of the Hebrew University’s Earth Science Institute, widely considered one of Israel’s top hydrologists. Both experts rejected Messerschmid’s assertions in the highly detailed BILD report on the politics of water in Israel and the disputed territories.
Glass and Rosch, however, defended Messerschmid, who has worked for 20 years as a hydrologist for international organizations.
Rosch and Glass cast doubt on the existence of Engelmeier’s Facebook post, which readers and journalists located on her Facebook page, and it is unclear why Rosch and Glass could not find the MP’s FB post.
German tax payers fund the ARD and its Tagesschau program, which broadcast the water report, is viewed by some 5 million people.
In a Friday article on the website of Mena- Watch alleging Rosch “demonized” Israel, the German journalist and expert in modern anti-Semitism, Alex Feuerherdt, said Rosch’s “unwillingness to research” is not merely “sloppy” journalism but “politically damage the Jewish state.”