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This open letter was signed by APC member 7amleh - The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media and 100 other organisations. You can also find it on 7amleh's website.
Dear Peter Limbourg
We are shocked and deeply concerned about the recent inaccurate and defamatory accusations made by Deutsche Welle’s (DW) investigation report committee against Deutsche Welles Akademie (DWA) partners. The report, released on 6th February 2022, is just the latest development in an ongoing anti-Palestinian smear campaign, that silences Palestinian voices, restricts freedom of expression, suppresses legitimate political and human rights speech criticizing ongoing Israeli violations against Palestinians, blocks us from holding people and governments accountable for injustice and prohibits Palestinian journalists and Palestinian organizations from sharing their daily experiences of systematic human rights violations with the world.
We stress our commitment to reject and fight all forms of racism, including antisemitism, Islamophobia, xenophobia, and other forms of racism. The aforementioned report adopts the definition of anti-Zionism as antisemitic, which has always been contested widely, including by many Jewish communities, where there has been significant opposition to this definition of antisemitism.
DW's adoption of such a discourse poses a great danger to freedom of opinion and expression. This approach conflates Jewish communities around the world with Israel, and falsely links them to the systematic oppression practiced by the Israeli authorities against Palestinians. DW should reject cooperating or aligning themselves with those who strive to spread smear campaigns against Palestinians, in an attempt to further spread lies instead of seeking to reach justice, freedom and dignity.
We deplore the denial of Palestinians' right to defend themselves and the actions taken to prevent them from documenting systematic human rights violations. Furthermore, the German government itself issued a statement calling on Israel to "permanently halt eviction and demolition procedures of Palestinian structures" in an attempt to stop the systematic violations practiced by the Israeli authorities against Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Thus, we see that this report strips Palestinians of their humanity and their fundamental right to defend themselves in light of the escalated attacks they are being subjected to, not to mention the increasing restrictions on Palestinian civil society, specifically human rights organizations that are working hard to document these violations.
We reject the generalization made in this report, which discriminates against Palestinians for speaking out against ongoing human rights violations in the digital space and on the ground alike. The adoption of such a report categorizes a group of journalists, media organizations, and civil society partner organizations as either being antisemitic or of spreading a one-sided narrative in covering the region. This will harm, not help, our collective struggle against intolerance, hatred and racism in the region.
Moreover, we reject and point out the lack of professionalism demonstrated by the formation of an unobjective investigation committee, in addition to its unprofessional procedure in the process of preparing this report. The committee itself lacked diversity and consisted of no experts in anti-racism issues. Moreover, the targeted DWA partner organizations were offered no consultancy on the issue and no right of reply to discuss the content of the accusations. They were instead informed hours before the report release that they and their organizations would be included in the report, and their partnerships with DWA would be impacted.
Through the utilization of this biased and one-sided framework, it is clear that DW’s investigation committee's intention is to silence Palestinians and falsely define any criticism of Israeli policies as antisemitism. We immediately demand that DW and DWA immediately take the following actions:
Retract the biased report and end the smear campaign.
Form an objective, non-biased committee made of anti-racism experts to investigate any wrongdoing, and consult with the journalists and Palestinian partner organizations.
Commit to freedom of expression and the adoption of a less biased antisemitism definition endorsed by both Jewish and Palestinian human rights defenders, such as the Jerusalem Declaration on antisemitism.
Allow political debate free of all forms of racism and hate, including antisemitism and islamophobia.
DW can no longer continue to claim to be a champion of free speech if it continues to make slanderous statements against Palestinians to silence them. It is time for DW to stand with oppressed people and amplify their voices.
7amleh- The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media
Jewish Voices for Peace
Nisaa Broadcasting Radio Company
Women Media and Development (TAM)
European Legal Support Center (ELSC)
Arab Resource & Organizing Center (AROC)
Adalah Justice Project
National Students for Justice in Palestine
Palästinensische Gemeinde Deutschland e.V
Free Speech on Israel (UK)
International Center of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP), London
Artists for Palestine UK
INSM - Iraq
EL Nadim center for psychological rehabilitation for victims of violence
Masaar-Technology and Law Community
The Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy
The Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council
The Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy
Women's Studies center
Arab American University
Palestinian Working Women Society for Development
The Center for Women's Legal Researches, Counselling and Protection
Women Affairs Center - Gaza
South Women Media Forum
The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA)
Palestinian Women Development Society
Community Media Center
ًWomen's Studies Center
Center for Women's Legal Research, Counseling and Protection
Center for Defense of Liberties & Civil Rights "Hurryyat"
Roles For Social Change Association - ADWAR
Psycho Social Counseling Center For Women "PSCCW"
Community Media Network
Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association
Land Research Center
The Alternative Syndicate of the Press
Arab Agronomists Association
Women's Center for Legal Aid and Counseling
Defense for Children International/ Palestine
Joint Advocacy Initiative
MA'AN Development Center
Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center
Alrowwad Cultural and Arts Society
Work health committees WHC
Women Against Violence
The Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy - MIFTAH
Center for Defense of Liberties & Civil Rights "Hurryyat"
Palestine weather website
Arab Center for Agriculture Development
The Civil Commission for the Independence of Judiciary and Rule of Law
Palestinian Working Woman Society for Development "PWWSD"
Kayan - Feminist orgnization
Human Rights & Democracy Media Center “SHAMS"
Union Of Agricultural Work Committees
The East Jerusalem YMCA
Institute for Palestine studies
JLAC- Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center
Teacher Creativity Center
Regional Coalition for Women Human Rights Defenders in the Middle East and North Africa
Palestinian Non Governmental Organizations Netwok
Tamer institute for community education
British Committee for the Universities of Palestine
Palestinian Youth Ecumenical Movement
Al Saraya Center for Community Service
Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network (PNGO)
Assiwar Feminist Arab Organization
Israelisches Komitee gegen Hauszerstörungen (ICAHD)
I'lam - Arab Center for Media Freedom Development and Research
Palestinian Vision (PalVision)
Fada - Palestinian Women Against Violence
Palestinian Journalists Syndicate
Union of Palestinian Women's Committees (UPWC)
Cultural Forum Center
Palestinian Counseling Center
Health Work Committees
The Arab Culture Association
Social Media Club-Palestine
Palästina Forum Nahost Frankfurt/M.