COLOGNE — Germany’s Channel 1 has announced it will broadcast a documentary on anti-Semitism in Europe that has become the subject of unwanted controversy over the last five months.
The film will air on Wednesday, June 21, at 10:15 p.m. (CET).
The announcement comes after a heated public debate about the refusal to show the film which led the German mass-circulation Bild news outlet to leak the documentary illegally last Tuesday, The Times of Israel reported.
Titled “Chosen and Excluded – Jew Hatred in Europe,” the documentary by Joachim Schröder and Sophie Hafner was commissioned and approved by the German public broadcaster WDR on behalf of its Franco-German partner channel Arte. Arte, however, refused to show the documentary, accusing its producers of violating production guidelines by including too much footage from Israel.
According to Arte program director Alain Le Diberder, the extensive coverage of Israel would be off topic in a film on European anti-Semitism.
This view had been heavily disputed by the producers and a large number of public figures, among them scholars, politicians and authors, who demanded the studio air the film, saying that the coverage was necessary in order to expose anti-Semitic Israel bashing.
Some voices, among them Bild editor-in-chief Julian Reichelt, raised the suspicion that, in fact, the film was not being shown because its finding that anti-Semitism is widespread in European society would be inconvenient for some.
Now the documentary will be officially shown on Germany’s Channel 1, which belongs to the ARD network, a joint organization of Germany’s regional public-service broadcasters, of which the WDR is also a member.
Initially, the WDR had been reluctant to give in to demands to screen the documentary on a different channel if Arte declined to show it. WDR claimed that it wouldn’t have the broadcasting rights and the film would suffer from journalistic shortcomings.
In a current press release, however, the ARD announced that the broadcasting rights are now with the WDR and that it wishes to broadcast the program in spite of its alleged deficiencies “in order to give the public debate that is going on already a basis.”
The screening of the documentary will be followed by a talk show that will address the alleged shortcomings of the documentary: The WDR accused Schröder and Hafner of stating uncorroborated numbers in their film regarding amounts of European tax money flowing to NGOs that engage in anti-Semitic Israel-bashing.
However, Prof. Gerald Steinberg from the Jerusalem-based think tank NGO Monitor, which provided the respective figures, denounced the WDR’s allegation as “inaccurate” and “simply political.”
Pointing to “German public TV networks’ long history of broadcasting uncorroborated anti-Israeli statements that later on were exposed as lies,” author, actor and director Gerd Buurman claimed the WDR’s criticism of Schröder and Hafner’s documentary was hypocritical and applied different standards to a film on anti-Semitism than it did to programs that are critical of Israel.
Schröder and Hafner weren’t informed by the ARD about its decision to finally screen their documentary.
“We read about it in the press,” says Schröder, who is hesitant to view the step as a victory.
He suspects that by following up with the talk show — to which he and his partner Hafner weren’t invited and whose participants were not named — the public broadcaster’s intent is to stage a tribunal against the documentary to whitewash the unpopular decision not to air the film.