German court rules in favor of Palestinian journalist dismissed by DW over allegations of anti-Semitism  

Seven Arab journalists critical of the Israeli occupation of Palestine were dismissed by DW in February 2022 over allegations that their social media posts and articles published elsewhere were “anti-Semitic”

June 30, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch
Palestinian journalist dismissed by DW
(Photo: Twitter)

A German court has ruled that the dismissal of Palestinian-Jordanian journalist Farah Maraqa by the German state broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) in February 2022 on charges of anti-Semitism was “not legally binding.” 

According to the verdict as quoted by Maraqa in a Twitter post on Wednesday, June 28, “DW misinformed the staff council” about the reasons for her dismissal. However, she mentioned that the final verdict was still awaited. 

The court was hearing an appeal filed by DW against a verdict given by a German labor court in September 2022 which said that Maraqa’s dismissal on charges of “anti-Semitism” was legally unjustified and wrongful.  

The court had asked DW to reinstate Maraqa at the time, her lawyer Hauke Rinsdorf told Al Jazeera. The court had also asked DW to issue a joint statement with Maraqa to restore her reputation as a journalist, as well as to reinstate her and pay her entire court fees. 

Maraqa and six other Arab/Palestinian journalists were fired by DW in February 2022 after a controversial investigation, based on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)’s controversial definition of anti-Semitism and led by pro-Israel persons, found that their social media posts or writings published in other publications had anti-Semitic elements. 

In May 2021, in a circular sent to its employees, DW had apparently banned the use of words like “colonialism” and “apartheid” when describing Israel, The Cradle reported. 

Maraqa is the second of the seven Arab journalists to win an appeal against DW’s decision. In July 2022, Maram Salem’s dismissal was also ruled as unlawful by a German court. 

A flawed definition of anti-Semitism  

In a letter sent to United Nations Secretary General António Guterres in April, dozens of international human rights groups had asked the UN not to endorse the IHRA’s definition of anti-Semitism, calling it flawed and open to misinterpretation.

The signatories claimed that IHRA’s definition has been used to “wrongly label criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic, and to chill and sometimes suppress non-violent protest, activism and speech critical of Israel and/or Zionism including in the US and Europe,” Electronic Intifada reported. 

Despite the objections raised on the IHRA’s definition of anti-Semitism, various Western media groups and countries like the US have endorsed it. Some have also undertaken steps similar to DW to fire their pro-Palestinian staff or outlaw pro-Palestinian movements like the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) in the name of anti-Semitism. 

Media groups including France 24 and the New York Times have also fired some of their staff over allegations of anti-Semitism. Social media sites such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram and tech giant Google are also accused of curbing pro-Palestine voices.

Giovanni Fassina, director of European Legal Support Center which provides legal support to Palestinians in Europe, had also agreed while speaking to Al-Jazeera in September that the adoption of IHRA’s definition “institutionalizes silencing of Palestinian voices and narratives.”