German news outlet Deutsche Welle rocked by alleged antisemitism – report

Employees targeted as “f*****g Jew”

A newspaper rack in the United Kingdom (photo credit: REUTERS)
A newspaper rack in the United Kingdom
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Germany’s publicly funded news outlet Deutsche Welle is facing allegations that it permits a widespread work culture of antisemitism, racism, sexual harassment and bullying.
The British Guardian paper reported last week that staff employees accused a presenter at the giant news organization DW of being antisemitic. “From what I witnessed, it seemed to build up over time as he targeted certain colleagues,” one employee said, adding, “He would just use the term as shorthand. ‘Oh, yeah, that f**king Jew over there.’”
Some staff members said the “presenter would target colleagues he believed to be Jewish arbitrarily, using antisemitic insults in the open office.”
The Jerusalem Post has reported over the years in series of reports about Israel-related antisemitism at DW.
DW is a swamp,” one staff member told The Guardian, adding “The irregularities are systemic: journalistic, political, ethical. There is no way to clean this system from within. The financier of DW, which is the German parliament, must take responsibility and investigate what’s happening.”
The Guardian cited a list of alleged employee abuse examples.
“In the Arabic division, a male colleague threatened to break a pregnant employee’s finger during a work shift in front of colleagues, staff have said.”
The paper said "At different locations at the Berlin offices at Voltastrasse, racial slurs relating to black, Jewish and Pakistani people are said to have been used openly to insult staff.”
“A black employee endured racist tropes about ‘eating fried chicken’ and growing up in the ‘ghetto,’ according to personnel.”
The Guardian reported that "staff claimed to have overheard the use of the N-word at Deutsche Welle and routine use of racist and sexist comments."
The Guardian report was mainly authored by Jad Salfiti, who was previously employed at Deutsche Welle. The Guardian wrote that “none of the investigative work for this piece was carried out during that period.”
In 2019, a presenter at Deutsche Welle’s Arabic service resigned due to fatigue related to accusations against him of rape and sexual harassment, according to the German weekly Die Zeit. The former presenter rejected the allegations against him.
The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA) wrote in a statement to the Post that "Antisemitism is a problem at the German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle, according to staff members at the state-funded media company. The whistleblowers also say that managers are targeting and silencing employees who speak out against it."
The media watchdog CAMERA said "it helped draw attention last December to Deutsche Welle’s problematic coverage of Israel and Gaza" and "the allegations raise new troubling questions about the media company’s culture."
Deutsche Welle corrected a factual error but then took to twitter to smear us as a ‘lobby,’” CAMERA’s Jonah Cohen said. “We pointed out it was not just a false characterization but a loaded word with antisemitic undertones. Now whistleblowers inside the company seem to be validating our misgivings about the choice of language.” 
“We applaud the employees who are daring to come forward to oppose the harassment and bigotry in their office,” Cohen added. “Let’s hope their concerns are taken seriously.”
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean of the human rights organization Simon Wiesenthal Center, told the Post about the charge of Israeli lobbyist from Ines Pohl, the DW’s current US correspondent, is “just outrageous as CAMERA is a US-based NGO not Israeli "organization. It is “clear willful bias” and is “especially pernicious as DW is government sponsored."
He added that "So now if we demand apology are we Zionist agents. Disheartening especially when we need more people like this senior person to show understanding and solidarity.” Cooper said “a written statement apologizing is certainly called for” from Pohl, who started as DW’s editor-in-chief in 2017 and will continue until May 2020.
Members of the leadership of the Berlin Jewish community complained to the Post at the time that Pohl allowed the publication of antisemitic articles when she was the editor-in-chief of the left-wing taz paper in Berlin. The Post has sent numerous media queries to DW seeking to find out who the "Israeli lobbyists" are.
The Post asked Christoph Jumpelt, the head of communications for DW, to send Post press queries to Pohl.
He declined and told the Post: "CAMERA did not take the facts so closely the last time we corresponded. While we will always respond to qualified criticism, please do not expect me to comment on this.”
In connection with The Guardian article, Jumpelt told the Post that “The Guardian article was written by a writer who worked as a freelancer for DW for a short time and left DW dissatisfied after his contract was ended.”
The DW spokesman said that ‘The cases raised in the article are all 18 months old or older. Since then, DW has launched an extensive education campaign on zero tolerance of abuse of power in all forms, bullying and sexual assault. All complaints were examined and DW came to clear results in the assessment. Claims relevant to labor law were examined and, if necessary, dealt with accordingly. There has been a known case of sexual harassment. The person concerned no longer works in DW. A case of bullying and racism was also examined. The employment relationship with the person concerned was also terminated.”
Dr. Richard Landes, a prominent Jerusalem-based media expert, told the Post that “The description of affairs at DW sounds a lot like what I imagined in 2005 when I named my blog about the mainstream news media, ‘The Augean Stables' – that is a scene so encrusted with dishonest bad habits that the stink filled the entire public sphere (in the case of the original Augean Stables, it was just the Peloponnesus).
He added that “It also resembles reports coming out of equally compromised ‘human rights’ NGOs like Amnesty International. Seems like, when you take the side of authoritarian, war-mongering movements like the Palestinian leadership and other Jihadis, you end up giving power to misogynist, racist, Jew-hating bullies. And the more dissent there is from the ranks, the more vicious the bullies need to be. Germany and the whole world could gain from some self-critical honesty on DW’s part, rather than their current belligerent defensiveness. I’m not holding my breath.”
The Indian journalist Vijeta Uniyal, who has uncovered anti-Israel and anti-Indian reporting at the DW over the years, told the Post that "The reported antisemitic and racist abuse at Deutsche Welle coincide with the pattern of antisemitic bias reflected in its coverage. For years, the broadcaster has been in denial. After repeated and severe 'lapses' in its coverage last year, I asked Deutsche Welle's spokesperson if the broadcaster intended to review its hiring policy and offer its journalists some basic sensitivity training. Tellingly, the query was never answered."
He added that "The problem is not limited to the lower rung. We saw recently how the news outlet's top management resorted to antisemitic dog whistle: smearing those who point to the antisemitic bias in its coverage as being part of some ‘Israel lobby.'
"Denying antisemitism by resorting to antisemitic tropes. It would be funny, but coming from a German broadcaster, it's just sad."
Pohl – the editor-in-chief, on whose watch the alleged antisemitism, racism, sexism and bullying occurred – will depart later this year to work as the Washington-based correspondent for DW.