Chronicles of a new "Anti-Semitism Scandal" (part 9): Am I Anti-Semitic?
"Are you Anti-Semitic? Do you hate Israel? Can't you answer these questions easily?", these were the questions that I have been hearing from a couple of german colleagues who wanted to understand where I am standing.
First, allow me to restate, digging into my old articles (more than seven years old), taking sentences out of their historical, geographical and content context, and using them to defame me and assassinate my character is not acceptable. I refuse to "defend myself" here, as I have nothing to defend but professional journalism.
However, and for the sake of the investigations, my answer for both first questions is a big fat "NO". At the same time, I still believe no one who falsely indicted me for being Antisemitic and a hater of Jews or even Israel doubted that.
Am I Anti-semitic?
Without digging into being Semitic myself as an Arab and that being Anti-Semitic isn't even valid; the working definition of antisemitism adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance IHRA states that:
"Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities."
This definition is one of many Arab historians I know will count as radical and excluding. Yet, I don't consider myself Antisemitic according to it, and none of my genuine writings before or after coming to Germany imply that.
My grandma, who fled the war with the Israelis, taught me that Jews were not benefiting whatsoever from the wars and conflicts, as she used to talk for tens of years about her Jewish best friend, who she lost connection with because of the consequences of the war.
Personally speaking, I myself met many Jews in my life, most of whom I realised they were so after already developing a work relationship or friendship, as I don't care to ask people about their religion. I don't discriminate against anyone based on that. And IF I were to become Antisemitic at any point, I would be the first to declare that and won't wait for a defamation campaign to do it for me!
So, do I hate Israel?
Hate, in the American Psychological Association Dictionary of Psychology, means:
"A hostile emotion combining intense feelings of detestation, anger, and often a desire to do harm. Also called hatred."
So NO, I don't have a "hostile" emotion combined with a desire "to harm" anyone, including Israel and the Israelis. I worked and developed good relationships with many Israelis before and after coming to Germany. I believe in conversations, not hatred. And again, believe me, IF I will have the mentioned desperate feelings, I will be the first person to declare them!
In an analytical journalist's eye, I still see how these answers won't change that I have been labelled and won't change the reasons behind all of the mixing between standing by Palestinian rights and the Palestinian cause and Antisemitism.
A late opinion article on The British independent magazine about Emma Watson, by Harriet Williamson, mentioned: "The conflation of Judaism and all Jewish people with the state of Israel and the policies of the Israeli government is deeply damaging and wrong. It is this conflation that has, for too long, resulted in the delegitmisation of even the mildest criticism of the policies of the Israeli government."
Then, if anything, labelling public figures (including journalists and media organisations) and defaming them only feeds fear and media suppression. While the biggest loser would be the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press and our commitment to human rights and democratic values.
This all could look in favour of some parts of the Israeli Authorities, who want to keep public figures voices low so they won't hold them accountable for their commitments with the Palestinians. While the fact it is against the liability of the media worldwide and would be in favour of more misleading stories, misinformation and more hate speech against the western media itself and its standards.
Human rights are for every human being, and I will always fight for them from my stance as a journalist, including the rights of the Palestinians, who are suffering in the occupied Palestinian Territory and Gaza from food insecurities and minimal access to water sources, not to mention death and restrictions on their other basic rights, according to the UN.
As a journalist, I made my vows earlier to stand behind the truth, not my origin nor my emotions, and if the United Nations' figures demonstrating the suffering of the Palestinians are not part of the truth, then I don't know what is.
I promised myself to be an ethical journalist who stands behind democracy and human rights in the world, and no one could change this.
Again, I decided to work with Deutsche Welle to develop my sense of the truth and ethics of Journalism, to widen my horizon and stand by human rights. And if me saying I am standing by the Palestinians rights, while still not being Anti-Semitic and not built out of hate, are not enough, then I am not sure what would be.
That said, this may be my last "chronicle" before the end of the investigations. After that, I will have many other decisions to take and many other articles to write either way.
*This article is a part of my "Chronicles of a new "Anti-Semitism Scandal" series documenting my experience while being wrongfully accused of antisemitism and subsequently under investigation by Deutsche Welle and the German media. I am a professional journalist who believes in my profession's mission, ethics, and values, and I will not remain silent in search for the truth, facts, and honest dialogue. I will keep writing and documenting until the end of investigations on the 15th of January 2022 or longer if needed.