Has DW looked the other way on anti-Semitism?

Has DW looked the other way on anti-Semitism?

On December 1, 2021, an article was published in the Süddeutsche Zeitung about anti-Semitic comments in the social media, posted by employees of the Arabic editorial office of Deutsche Welle. The media echo was huge in the following days, especially after the US magazine "Vice" followed up two days later: DW was cooperating closely with the Jordanian broadcaster Roya TV, ignoring its anti-Semitic and anti-Israel agenda. After DW initially defended the cooperation and said that it "definitely does not consider Roya TV to be anti-Israel," it again backed down two days later, terminated the cooperation and regretted the original assessment.In addition. After the article appeared in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, DW announced that it had commissioned an external commission. The former federal justice minister and current anti-Semitism commissioner for the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Sabine Leutheuser-Schnarrenberger, and the psychologist Ahmad Mansour are to head a commission to investigate the anti-Semitism allegations.

Meanwhile, new accusations are being made. Deutsche Welle cooperates in Lebanon with the station Al Jadeed, which, for example, glorifies fighters of Hezbollah, according to the magazine Vice on Dec. 7, 2021. The director of Deutsche Welle, Peter Limbourg, has not yet responded to inquiries. Instead, a DW spokesperson defended Deutsche Welle's strategy, saying that even if not "all media providers worldwide share German-European values and thus those of DW, it is important that DW contributes with its content to "making democratic values and points of view known."

ver.di DW issued the following statement on Dec. 7, 2021, before the latest allegations became known:


Statement of ver.di DW

The article "A broadcaster looks away" in the Süddeutsche Zeitung of 1 December 2021 has triggered a huge media response and is worrying many colleagues. ver.di DW condemns anti-Semitism, racism, discrimination and abuse of power. The ver.di union stands for social diversity and basic democratic values.

Unfortunately, we find that management only acts when misconduct can no longer be downplayed. In this regard, DW's executives have a special responsibility.

The media accuse DW of looking away when employees and a partner station made anti-Semitic statements. That weighs heavily. With this in mind, we welcome the appointment of Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger and Ahmad Mansour to investigate the allegations. We assume that it will be carried out without any interference. In addition to individual personnel investigations, responsibilities at all management levels must be examined. This also means that colleagues who name wrongdoing must be heard. Their criticism must no longer be understood as a lack of loyalty. Deutsche Welle must live its values internally and externally.

To this end, structures must be scrutinized!

7 December 2021, ver.di Senderverband Deutsche Welle


In previous years, there had been fierce conflicts within the Arabic editorial team. Some colleagues were terminated after criticizing the leadership style and journalistic course of their management. The latter accused the dismissed colleagues of a lack of loyalty.

At the end of 2020, the broadcasters' association ver.di DW attested to a management culture at DW that had lost all measure, and in an internal announcement referred this criticism in particular to the director.

PS: In the meantime, improvements have been achieved on the initiative of unions and staff councils at DW level, such as regulated conflict resolution procedures. For the colleagues who were penalized, however, this came too late. They are taking legal action against DW and are being supported by ver.di.