The CEO of Axel Springer, a Berlin-based agency, told the company's 16,000 employees to find another job if they have a problem with an Israeli flag being posted outside the largest digital publishing house of Europe.
Several staff reportedly complained when the company raised an Israeli flag at its headquarters during the 11 days of Israel's air strikes on the besieged Gaza Strip last month.
"I think, and I'm being very frank with you, a person who has an issue with an Israeli flag being raised for one week here, after antisemitic demonstrations, should look for a new job," said Mathias Döpfner during a video conference held last week with employees around the world.
For 11 days, Israel launched attacks on the blockaded Gaza Strip. Health officials in Gaza say 254 Palestinians, including 66 children and 39 women, were killed and more than 1,900 were wounded in the bombardments.
Axel Springer, the largest digital publisher in Europe, was founded in West Germany in 1946. It owns Bild, Die Welt, Business Insider, Politico Europe, and many other news brands, as well as Israel's largest classified-ads website, Yad2, according to the Jerusalem Post.
On its website, Axel Springer has listed "We support the Jewish people and the right of existence of the State of Israel" as one of the company's five essential values.
Addressing complaints by some employees about the Israeli flag being raised outside the company headquarters, Dopfner said: "After these weeks of terrible antisemitic demonstrations, we at our building headquarters said next to the European flag, and the German flag and the Berlin flag, let's raise for one week the Israeli flag as a gesture of solidarity. We do not accept these kinds of aggressive antisemitic movements."
He added that some employees expressed their unwillingness to work for a company that supports Israel in this manner. He said: "So, I think that is also a good point. This person does not fit the company and its values … It's very simple."
The Israeli flag was put up in front of the headquarters after there were pro-Palestinian demonstrations across Germany, chanting slogans in support of Palestine.
German-Jewish writer Fabian Wolff recently criticised the country's media for its overt pro-Israel bias, saying: "The German media's approach is not centred on Jews or how to best combat antisemitism. It's more about making Germans feel good about themselves and feeding into a German superiority complex."