How the Atlas Lions’ support for Palestine incurred the wrath of Germany’s pro-Zionist media
In their coverage of the Moroccan football team’s expressions of solidarity with the Palestinian cause, leftist and right-wing German media had more in common than they would like to admit.
With their proud history of hegemonic story-telling, Western media routinely lay claim to narrative officialdom involving third parties in a manner so colonial that it easily betrays their sole ideological purpose. Whether in their coverage of Palestine, the war in Ukraine or the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, Western media claim to inform their public freely and fairly, but in reality do little more than pass oppressive and biased judgment on those residing outside the borders of their Euro- Western realm of reference.
German media is no exception to the rule of Western hubris feeling entitled to tell the authoritative story of others without their consent and doing so with a deep racial bias that distorts their reality to the point where the subject of study, thoroughly remade by the coloniser, is rendered unrecognisable and upon which this new counterfeit narrative, bearing no resemblance to the original, is marketed as the original itself.
And nowhere has this remodeling of reality by Germany’s fourth estate in the service of placating one’s deep-seated white supremacist urges been so blatantly transparent in recent days than in the media’s predictable defamation of Moroccan football players as anti-Semites for displaying Palestinian flags.
Why predictable? Because: if there are two things you can rely on when it comes to the German media, it is their factory setting of unconditional apologia for Israeli apartheid (conversely, this means an unconditional antipathy towards Palestinians suffering under Israeli apartheid rule) and your run-of-the-mill Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism, of which Germany’s Maghrebi population is traditionally a consistent target (who will forget the infamous New Year’s Eve of 2015 in the city of Cologne when an incident of mass sexual assaults led to wholesale race-baiting against North Africans by a German media which was not above peddling the racist stereotype of the predatory oriental male from which the innocent white woman needs to be protected).
So when you have a Moroccan men’s national team that proudly displays the Palestinian flag at every turn of their fairytale-like World Cup journey which saw them finish fourth in a historic first for an African nation, this easily constitutes the German media’s worst nightmare. And lo and behold, it did not take long for the pro-"Israel" public relations officers masquerading as journalists in Germany's newsrooms to rev up their damage control machinery: Berlin-based Die Tageszeitung (better known as taz), a leftist daily owned by a cooperative whose members are predominantly Green party supporters, ran at least two op-eds denigrating the Moroccan national team’s displays of the Palestinian flag following their round of 16 win over Spain.
Titled “Morocco is not in Palestine”, this opinion piece by a freelance sportswriter named Martin Krauss has been the focus of intense criticism, both domestic and international, for blatantly calling the Atlas Lions’ expressions of pro-Palestinian solidarity anti-Semitic and describing them as “orchestrated enmity towards 'Israel'.”
The other op-ed, penned by yet another white German, resorted to more subliminal messaging in an effort to cover up its anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian bias: titled “Kitsch and strength”, the author quickly went from celebrating Morocco’s aforementioned victory as a win for intercultural relations to accusing the Moroccan players of sowing societal division by way of displaying Palestinian flags. Really?!?
The tone of both articles was one of transparent self-indulgence and of wanting to say something without having anything to say, two hallmarks of German journalism not necessarily limited to opinion-based writing, as the entire German media coverage of Qatar 2022 has sadly shown.
TV broadcaster Welt, also headquartered in Berlin and which belongs to the staunchly pro-"Israel" Axel Springer SE, Europe’s largest newspaper publisher, went even further than taz by accusing the Moroccan national team of showing support for Daesh (ISIS), known in the West as the Islamic State.
How did Welt arrive at this ultra-defamatory conclusion that reaffirms Germany’s susceptibility to white supremacist MAGA-hat conspiracy theories?
Simply on the basis of a post-match locker room photo on social media, which showed three Moroccan players with raised index fingers, a hand gesture that is part and parcel of everyday Islamic prayers, symbolising nothing other than the oneness of God and which Welt (willfully) mistook for a terrorist gang sign. In an instance of too-little-too-late, the German network, which is notorious for its anti-Muslim fear-mongering, has since broadcasted a disingenuous apology for its inexcusable act of likening the North African footballers to terrorists".
It is worth mentioning that taz and Springer (which also publishes the tabloid Bild, Germany’s largest newspaper in terms of circulation), share an illustrious history of mutual enmity dating back to the late 1970s when taz was founded in the aftermath of the “Deutscher Herbst” (German autumn), a time when the left-wing terrorist organization Rote Armee Fraktion was in the climactic phase of its urban guerrilla war against a conservative and never fully de-Nazified West German state and society, of which the notoriously anti-leftist Springer press was seen as one of its most potent symbols.
The chronically cash-strapped taz (which is in the process of scrapping its weekday paper edition) and the well-heeled behemoth that is Springer (which in 2021 acquired US news outlet Politico) have a David-and-Goliath-like relationship, their internecine loathing for each other at times resulting in passive-aggressive tit-for-tats.
Yet when it comes to Palestine, David and Goliath seem to be in rare mutual agreement, setting aside ideological differences for the greater good, namely that of protecting "Israel’s" self-appointed right to settler colonial occupation. And while Springer’s anti-Arab and Islamophobic reporting is not at all surprising, to see an article like that of Mr. Krauss which shamelessly weaponises anti-Semitism against Arabs in a paper which does view itself as anti-racist, caught many by surprise.
Most notably, even those within the taz editorial team’s own ranks, as evidenced by a counter-opinion piece by the paper’s Middle East editor, one Jannis Hagemann, titled “Solidarity is legitimate”: this direct rebuttal of both Krauss’s article and the racist bile broadcasted on Welt acknowledged that “the people in Palestine deserve solidarity” and in a rare instance of German criticism of "Israel" went on to say that “accusing Moroccans of anti-Semitism and terrorism is by design: it plays into the hands of those who try to delegitimise Palestinians and make 'Israel’s' claim to the entire land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan river socially acceptable.”
If the first World Cup in the Middle East, during which the Palestinian flag was probably the single most ubiquitous national symbol in the stadiums and fan zones across Qatar, has proven anything, it is that not only is Morocco in Palestine, but also the entire decolonised world. This is something that the intransigent European coloniser, regardless of his political bent and who in his steadfast support for "Israel’s" own settler colonial project seems to have learned nothing from his past wrongdoings, refuses to see.
Well then, may he continue to stand lonely and forlorn on the wrong side of history while the majority of the world continues to band together in support of the Palestinians who have been denied justice and liberation for far too long.