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In a special meeting of the governing bodies of DW and subsequent press conference, an independent commission of experts today presented the results of its two-month investigation into allegations of antisemitism.
The allegations were made against several Deutsche Welle employees and distribution partners. Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, Beatrice Mansour and Ahmad Mansour found that there was no structural antisemitism in DW's Arabic service, where four of the five accused work, and no fundamental antisemitic tendency in its reporting. However, there had been selective omissions and errors, for example in recruiting, in journalistic research and in the selection of guests for shows.
The report by the expert commission can be downloaded at the bottom of this page (in German).
At today's joint meeting of DW's Broadcasting Council and Administrative Board, the representatives emphasized that the report presented by the independent experts and the measures developed from it by DW management were an important basis for further discussion of this topic in the governing bodies.
DW Broadcasting Council Chairman Karl Jüsten: "Our thanks go to Ms. Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger and Mr. Mansour. They have helped DW in a difficult situation and formed the basis for concrete improvements with their investigation. The representatives of both bodies were informed extensively about the investigation into the allegations and also about the measures that DW is now planning. The governing bodies are relieved that the report found no evidence of structural antisemitism at DW. These are regrettable individual cases. I speak for both bodies when I emphasize once again that antisemitism has no place at DW."
To this end, Director General Peter Limbourg commissioned the independent experts in early December to investigate the allegations and possible organizational weak points in some of units at DW and to formulate recommendations for action. The DW employees quoted in the media reports were temporarily released from their duties.
The expert commission has come to the conclusion that it is "accurate" that the statements cited in the Süddeutsche Zeitung were made by DW employees on their private social media accounts. The suspensions are therefore "justified". In addition, some other employees had attracted attention with problematic statements, and a careful examination was recommended here. DW must improve its recruiting for the Arabic editorial staff and provide all editorial staff with detailed guidelines including definitions and explanations of antisemitism, hatred of Israel and the distinction between this and justified criticism of Israel. These aspects should also be communicated intensively and continuously during the onboarding of new employees and in internal training courses.
With regard to the selection of distributors of DW offerings in the MENA region, the independent experts only identified a few incidents worthy of criticism. Here, clear decision-making criteria for selection must be defined and DW's values and standards should be communicated, according to the study.
Director General Limbourg: "I would like to thank Ms. Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger and Mr. Mansour for the differentiated report and the recommendations derived from it. They help us to address our weaknesses and to become better. The management and I are truly sorry. The mere suspicion of antisemitism in a German, tax-funded institution must be intolerable for Jewish people in this country and around the world," Limbourg said. "We must make our position much clearer in the future. Freedom of expression is never a justification for antisemitism, hatred of Israel and denial of the Holocaust." The Director General went on to say, "Today we acknowledge omissions and mistakes. We will deal with these promptly, completely and consistently. We will draw clear consequences, including those related to staffing."
Limbourg presented a management action plan to the governing bodies. He said it was gratifying that the planned measures largely coincided with the recommendations made by Ms. Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger and Mr. Mansour. DW will communicate its values and guidelines even better in the future, the director emphasized. It would establish a precise definition of antisemitism, sharpen its Code of Conduct and communicate the contents internally on a mandatory basis. Business partners would also have to formally recognize DW's Code of Conduct.
In Editorial Lead, Information and News, a new team of experts will integrate the topics of antisemitism, Israel's right to exist and responsibility toward German history more strongly into the journalistic offering. There will also be additional hires for the correspondent office in Israel. Dialogue with partners in the Arab world continues to be particularly important outside of Programming. DW Akademie will review its partnerships in the MENA region, as well as its procedures for concluding partnerships and for recruiting and employing trainers and experts.