Al Jazeera Net correspondents
Berlin- A blog post by a parliamentarian in… Free Democratic PartyThere was a controversy on social media sites in Germany about the necessity of banning Al Jazeera. The representative, who belongs to a party that calls for “freedom and liberalism,” demanded that Al Jazeera suffer the same fate that Russia Today faced in European Union.
This concerns MP Katja Adler, who wrote, “Al Jazeera is still fully available in Germany, and as such it spreads hatred against Jews and against the West, and it is the only source of information for many Muslims and immigrants in Germany. It must be banned, just as was done with the Russia Today channel.” .
Germany banned the broadcast of the “Russia Today” channel, in its German-language version, on the grounds that it had not obtained the necessary license, before the outbreak of the Ukrainian-Russian war, and later the European Union banned all “Russia Today” channels and the Sputnik agency, on the grounds that they spread misinformation.
A number of social media users interacted with the post of the representative who is active in the European Affairs Committee in the German Parliament, and a member of the German Left Party, Ulysses Al-Khatib, wrote sarcastically, “The liberals’ understanding of press freedom is absolutely wonderful. Anyone who covers from Gaza should be banned.”
Another response that received great interaction was what Geert Ion Unkar, a journalist at Russia Today residing in Germany, wrote: “You certainly need more censorship in Germany, as there is not enough of it,” continuing, “When everyone only has the same opinion, Then democracy and freedom of expression will be fully achieved.”
German human rights activist Kerem Schamberg wrote, “One does not have to be a fan of Al Jazeera’s coverage, but the call to ban the channel by a member of parliament, belonging to one of the ruling parties, is an extremely dangerous matter and a threat to freedom of the press.”
A German woman named Regina commented that “Al Jazeera does not spread hatred, and its coverage is fairly neutral, and not like the German media that focuses on the Israeli side.”
The representative's call did not receive clear support among social media users, but a number of users supporting Israel shared her tweet, while most of the written interactions were against her call to ban the channel, while most of the party's representatives refrained from liking or sharing the tweet.
Al Jazeera Net contacted the Free Democratic Party via the mail designated for receiving press inquiries, which is supervised by the media team, to comment on the party’s position on the issue, but it did not receive any response after a full working day.
The Free Democratic Party, led by Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner, strongly supports Israel, as do most major German parties.
Its leadership criticized Germany's abstention from voting in the first session of the United Nations General Assembly after the Gaza War, when 120 countries voted in favor of an immediate humanitarian truce resolution, and the party said that Berlin should have voted against the resolution, and not just abstained.
“Israel is supported in Germany because it’s a shortcut for not really coming to terms with our past.”@hahauenstein @hebh_jamal & Wieland Hoban (@jvplive) spoke on the censorship and demonisation of Palestinians since the outset of the war in Gaza.
Watch our full report ⤵️… pic.twitter.com/ZC82V3MHQI
— The Listening Post (@AJListeningPost) December 4, 2023
German journalist Hanno Hauenstein says, “This call is a testimony to widespread ignorance regarding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, where press coverage that criticizes Israeli war policies and occupation policies is often considered unacceptable or not permitted in Germany.”
The German journalist, who previously worked as chief editor at the Berlin Zeitung newspaper, asked in statements to Al Jazeera Net: What kind of press coverage from Gaza should be allowed in Germany? Where “thousands of innocent civilians are being exposed agitation to Israeli bombing.
Hauenstein continues, “Al Jazeera works with editorial trends that are more critical of Israel than any Western outlet.” He added, “But this is not surprising, and I do not believe that freedom of the press requires everyone's approval of everything broadcast in the media, including Al Jazeera. However, I have not seen reports by Al Jazeera that go beyond legitimate criticism to anti-Semitism.”
He explains the sensitivity of the issue of Israel in the German media, “The context of these discussions is the brutal anti-Semitic history in Germany, which leads to a feeling of responsibility towards the Jews and towards Israel, which is a good thing in my view,” but he adds, “However, this feeling often translates into a kind of support.” Absolute support for Israel, which is inconsistent with human rights principles, and clashes with attacks on journalists because of their work inside Gaza.”
Hauenstein, who specializes in German coverage of the Palestinian issue, was a main guest in a lengthy report recently broadcast by Al Jazeera English as part of the “The Listening Post” program, about the suppression of Palestinian voices in Germany and the significant media bias towards Israel, a report that was widely shared on social media during last few days.