Two Palestinian-German journalists have been fired from their jobs at German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, a week after the news organisation let go of five of its Arabic service staff.
The dismissal of DW’s Arab employees came after an external inquiry said Zahi Alawi and Yasser Abu Muailek published social media posts back in 2014 that were anti-Semitic, based on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) controversial extended definition of anti-Semitism.
Critics have said that the IHRA definition is an affront to freedom of speech and is used to muzzle any criticism of Israeli policies and occupation against the Palestinian people, and equates anti-Zionism with anti-Jewish prejudice.
The social media posts in question referred to Facebook posts by Alawi and Abu Muailek that had condemned the Israeli offensive on the blockaded Gaza Strip in 2014.
“What the terrorist state of Israel is doing to the Palestinians is a repeated Holocaust,” Alawi wrote on his Facebook page in July 2014.
More than 2,200 Palestinians were killed, including 551 children and 299 women, in the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip that had drawn global condemnation.
The inquiry was led by German Justice Minister Sabine Leuthauser Schanberger and psychologist Ahmed Mansour, a Palestinian Israeli known for his anti-Islam views.
On February 7, the inquiry concluded its findings into the original five journalists under investigation, who were suspended from DW in early December. The probe found that although there was no evidence of structural anti-Semitism within DW, the five journalists were guilty of anti-Semitism.
Basil al-Aridi, Murhaf Mahmoud, Maram Salem, Farah Maraqa, and Dawood Ibrahim were suspended were fired on February 7 – the same day the two-month external inquiry was released.
They said they were not given a chance to defend their case or contest the inquiry’s findings. One of the journalists, Salem, who was fired for a Facebook post criticising freedom of speech in Europe, told Al Jazeera her dismissal is a “career assassination”.
According to a rights monitor, a review of the inquiry found that its analysis pushed for a “one-sided pro-Israeli narrative”.
Alawi and Abu Muailek are both veteran journalists with DW’s Arabic Service, after joining the organisation 17 and 12 years ago respectively. They were among eight other Arab employees that DW’s director-general, Peter Limbourg, said last week were under further investigation.
In the news conference, Limbourg apologised and promised to vet future journalist candidates more rigorously.