How German media ignored the anniversary of Shireen Abu Akleh’s murder
The twisted priorities of German news coverage entail wilfully overlooking those who expose Western war crimes while glorifying those who commit them: that is why the media in my country deprioritised the “daughter of Palestine” and fanboyed over a genocidaire like Henry Kissinger.
May 11 marked the one-year anniversary of the killing of beloved Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh by an Israeli sniper bullet, a murder for which the Apartheid regime has yet to be held accountable. While media outlets in the US and UK paid their respects to the slain icon revered as “Bint Filastin”, daughter of Palestine, by including her story in the news coverage of that day, in Germany the solemn occasion was met with silence, and not the respectful, commemorative kind.
One would think that the violent death of a colleague would elicit sympathy from journalists across the guild, but that would mean to underestimate the depravity of “German guilt” which is programmed to shield "Israel’s" organised violence from public scrutiny. This routinely entails withholding information from the German public which could make the latter question their country’s unconditional solidarity for a settler colonial Apartheid state.
While moments of silences are supposed to be periods of contemplation and a means to honour the deceased, the absence of audible sound from organised journalism in Germany in relation to Abu Akleh’s murder was designed to erase her memory: the Berlin-based Deutscher Journalistenverband (DJV), the country’s largest journalists’ union, made no mention of her murder on its website on May 11. Instead, the most current news item of that day was an article on the occasion of the 70-year anniversary of Deutsche Welle, the focus of its criticism not being the state broadcaster’s culture of bullying (pro)-Palestinian journalists, but budget cuts within the organisation.
Lending further credence to the suspicion of non-Eurocentric media critics that the Western world prioritises white suffering over that of Black and Brown people is the fact that the logo of the DJV on its website is coloured in Ukrainian blue and yellow, a colour scheme so ubiquitous in public and online spaces in Germany nowadays that it is safe to speak of an ideological Ukrainisation of the country which supplies the most killing machinery to Kiev in continental Europe.
The German chapter of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) was no better, as it made no mention of Abu Akleh’s murder on its homepage on May 11. But recalling Amnesty Germany’s going rogue by refusing to promote the landmark 2022 report of its parent organisation that found "Israel" to be an Apartheid state, I cross-checked the notable omission of RSF Germany with its global website.
And lo and behold, there could be found the headline “Israel: one year after killing of Shireen Abu Akleh, RSF denounces scandalous impunity that persists in the case.” Once again, this latest example of intra-organisational apostasy shows how shielding Apartheid "Israel" even amidst Western condemnations is an idiosyncratically German aberration.
While a body such as the DJV is tasked with safeguarding the interests of its members, in Germany these interests seem to be safeguarding Israeli war crimes: type in “Shireen Abu Akleh” into the online search engines of the country’s four most read non-tabloid news outlets and you will find that only liberal Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) and leftist taz published articles pertaining to the anniversary of Abu Akleh’s death, while the most recent search results on the websites of centrist Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and right-wing Die Welt are from November and December 2022, respectively.
The most recent hit on pro-Zionist tagesschau.de, always a reliable bellwether to determine which way the mainstream German media’s political winds blow, is from February 16 of this year, namely a podcast episode titled “One dead journalist, many question marks”, subtitled with “Nine months later, questions remain unanswered: Who shot at her and why?”
Given the fact that not even the Israeli army contests that Abu Akleh was shot by one of their own, the above statement is textbook disinformation. Not to mention that the killing was not an accident, but premeditated: in their final report from November 2022, titled “The extrajudicial killing of a journalist”, the joint investigation by Forensic Architecture and Al-Haq NGO concludes that the “Israeli army marksman deliberately and repeatedly targeted Shireen and her fellow journalists with the intention to kill.” Pray tell, dear Tagesschau, where are your “many question marks?”
To be fair, Germany’s regional broadcaster SWR, part of the publicly funded ARD network that also houses tagesschau.de, did air a radio feature by Palestinian-German journalist Nadja Odeh, titled “Death of an icon: the journalist Shireen Abu Akleh”: refreshingly anti-hegemonic by German media standards, it not only elevated Palestinian voices and debunked the Israeli narrative of an accidental shooting, but also shows how different German news reporting would be if the jealously guarded whites-only safe spaces that are the country’s news rooms were run by people of colour.
One should mention that while German mainstream media broadly failed to commemorate the murder of one of their own and Abu Akleh’s case, being a possible war crime, has been referred to the International Criminal Court, news outlets across the country went out of their way to whitewash, nay fete, one of the most prolific war criminals in modern history: on Henry Kissinger’s 100th birthday, Germany’s legacy media unanimously paid homage to the former US National Security Advisor and Secretary of State whose genocidal policies aided the slaughter of millions of people in former French Indochina and what is today Bangladesh and Timor-Leste, among others.
Tagesschau.de led the ahistorical tributes with the glorifying headline “The figure of a century turns 100”, while the left-leaning SZ held one of the most reactionary eulogies, lauding the Machiavellian politician’s “Realpolitik” and hailing the onetime chief ideologue of the US empire as a “great thinker” and “master student of world history.”
Nowhere could be found an honest characterisation of the personified evil that is Kissinger, such as the one made by the late celebrity chef and travel documentarian Anthony Bourdain who famously said that “once you’ve been to Cambodia, you’ll never stop wanting to beat Henry Kissinger to death with your bare hands”, calling him a “treacherous, prevaricating, murderous scumbag.”
What an unjust world we live in where those who courageously shine a light on war crimes are cut down in the prime of their lives, while the cowards who commit them get to live a hundred. May Shireen Abu Akleh continue to rest in power as the halo of her martyrdom shines brighter than ever, despite the efforts of the pro-Zionist consensus media in my country to dim it.