France24 suspension of Palestinian journalist Laila Odeh causes outrage

France24 suspension of Palestinian journalist Laila Odeh causes outrage
France24's suspension of Palestinian journalist Laila Odeh has been met with outrage, after she was accused of "anti-Semitism" by a pro-Israel group.
3 min read
15 March, 2023
Odeh was suspended from French channel France 24 [Laila Odeh, Twitter]

France24’s suspension of Palestinian journalist Laila Odeh over accusations of anti-Semitism has caused outrage among activists and media professionals.

The state-owned outlet announced on Sunday that it suspended four journalists pending investigations following accusations by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), a pro-Israeli American media monitor.

CAMERA accused Odeh of writing anti-Israel posts on Facebook and Twitter, claiming that she supported armed resistance against Israel and called Palestinians who carried out bombing attacks in Israel "martyrs".

However, activists and media professionals slammed the accusations as a method of silencing Palestinian voices. Some labelled France24's move "disgusting".

Odeh told The New Arab that she is unable to speak about the case until the investigation is complete. However other journalists spoke in her defence.

"Accusations of antisemitism are being weaponised to suppress any support for Palestinian victims… @France24_ar It is not antisemitic to highlight the oppression by the Israeli apartheid regime and the breaking of international law," prominent Al-Jazeera news anchor Ghada Oueiss tweeted.

"A professional journalist with a great deal of professionalism... being Palestinian and writing about her people's issues on Twitter is not a crime. All solidarity with Laila," Tunisian journalist Wejdene Bouabdallah wrote.

Activists also recalled an incident whereby Odeh was reporting for France24 live on air and was heckled by Israelis chanting "death to Arabs", condemning what the channel allegedly deemed permissible and impermissible in the name of freedom of speech.

"Attacking a Palestinian journalist for being who she is… is considered freedom of speech… but for Lailah Odeh… to have the audacity to expose Israel’s crimes and violations is an offence punishable by dismissal? Yep, that’s universal Justice for ya!,” Chief Representative of the Palestinian General Delegation to Canada Mona Abuamara wrote.

Other France24 journalists accused of antisemitism by CAMERA include Lebanese Journalists Joelle Maroun, Dina Abi-Saab and Sharif Bibi.

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Maroun allegedly made jokes about the Holocaust and tweeted in favour of Hitler’s leadership, accusations considerably different in nature to those of Odeh, despite them being condemned in the same article.

"After the CAMERA website published an article… the channel's management immediately conducted an internal audit… the four journalists were temporarily relieved of their activity, pending the results of the audit," a statement by France24 on Sunday said.

"In all of France24's languages, the Arabic-language channel distinguishes itself every day by its commitment to the fight against anti-Semitism, racism, and discrimination," it added.

The internal investigation, which was opened last week, is being led by an independent consulting firm, according to Politico.

Odeh started her career in the press in 1993 and joined the French channel in 2007, according to The New Arab's Arabic service Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

Another European outlet, Germany's Deutsche Welle dismissed Palestinian-Jordanian journalist Farah Maraqa, and four other Arab employees, on charges of anti-semitism last year.

The employees said they were not given a chance to read the inquiry or contest its findings, according to Al Jazeera.

A German court ruled Maraqa’s dismissal as "legally unjustified", Maraqa said last September.