All journalists who join the Axel Springer group media are contractually obliged to defend the Jewish people and the State of Israel. A German colleague told me this a few years ago. He claimed to know what he was talking about, but since he did not show me the secret clause of his employment contract, I neither believed it nor stopped believing it. Some time later and for reasons that are now irrelevant, Axel Springer publicly acknowledged following five “essential principles”, an editorial line that obliges all employees of the group, from the newspaper Welt to the tabloid Bild to defend “freedom, the rule of law, democracy and a united Europe”; support “the Jewish people and the right to exist of the State of Israel”; advocate for “the transatlantic alliance between the United States of America and Europe”; defend “the principles of the market economy and its social responsibility”; and reject “political and religious extremism and all forms of racism and sexual discrimination.” Departing from the ideology means dismissal and that is what has happened to an editor of Lebanese origin.
According to Kasem Raad’s version, which is the only one there is because Axel Springer does not respond to personnel issues, on October 7, after the brutal Hamas attacks, the editorial team sent an internal article titled We stand with Israel. Days later and with more questions than answers, Raad, 20 years old and newly signed to Welt TV, sent a private message to the employee who runs the intranet asking why Axel Springer supported Israel. When she received no response, Raad wrote his question on the bulletin board. “Haven’t you read your contract?” someone responded. Raad was called by management and reprimanded, but he maintained his attitude because “I firmly believe in open dialogue and finding answers, especially at a time when many people lack knowledge about current social issues,” he explained.
That was it, until Raad decided to publish a video on his personal YouTube channel questioning a viral version according to which Hamas beheaded babies during its attack, something that not even the Israel Defense Forces could confirm. On October 20 he was called to another meeting in which he was informed of the dismissal. “This whole situation is really ironic. One of Axel Springer’s essential principles are freedom, democracy and the rejection of political and religious extremism, but in my case he has ignored them, prioritizing support for Israel,” he denounced.
It is not known how many Raad there have been in the Western media, but in the German case the silence about the humanitarian tragedy occurring in Gaza It is imposed and not only by contract. It comes from above. Chancellor Olaf Scholz, for example, says that “demanding an immediate ceasefire or a long pause” in the Strip as requested by other countries or the UN is not a good idea because that would allow Hamas to recover. To balance the story, he speaks of “humanitarian pauses” but he says it quietly. He uses arguments from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanhayu.
This Friday, Scholz will receive the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and the first thing the newspaper has done Bild is to ask on the cover: What does someone who hates Israel come to Berlin looking for? The only thing that is known is that Erdogan, no matter what he says about the Israeli operation in Gaza, no one can fire him.