A presenter of a children’s television show in Germany has been fired for attending a peaceful demonstration against the Israeli Occupation in the West Bank, in the latest case of German authorities’ and media’s suppression of pro-Palestinian views.
In an article titled ‘Extremist festival: KiKa host demonstrates alongside Israel-haters’, the German right-wing Bild newspaper reported in August that Matondo Castlo – the first black host of a show on children’s channel, KiKa – had been in a demonstration in the Occupied West Bank alongside Palestinians from the village of Beit Dajan near Nablus.
Castlo confirmed in a statement on social media that he did help renovate a school and attended a “peaceful demonstration” in the West Bank, which was against land confiscations by Israeli Forces and illegal settlers. With such protests being a common occurrence, they have increasingly faced violent crackdowns by Occupation Forces.
The presenter expressed regret over attending the protest, stating that “I didn’t intend to express a political statement and particularly not position myself against Israel. I immediately stated this publicly and explained this to KiKa many times.”
Known as the “Farkha Festival”, the annual gathering brings international attendees to the West Bank for “one week of volunteer work, political discussions and workshops on the Palestinian struggles towards liberation, on struggles of Palestinian women, on left perspectives and cultural activities.”
According to German left-wing activist and another KiKa employee, Kerem Schamberger, who has been a key attendee of the Festival for over a decade, the 100-person protest was “peaceful” before Israeli Forces declared the area to be a closed military zone and “started shooting rubber bullets and [tear-]gas grenades”.
In response, youths from the village responded by throwing stones at the Occupation Forces, but none of the international attendees – including Castlo – joined in with that action. His primary reason for attending the Festival in the first place, according to Schamberger, was that the presenter is also a social worker in Berlin and that he wanted to better understand the context that tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees in the city come from.
Despite those comments and appeals, KiKa maintained its stance and fired Castlo, telling the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, that “After careful consideration, KiKA decided to not continue the collaboration with Matondo Castlo. Please understand, that we are not allowed to publish more information due to reasons of privacy.”
The dismissal of Castlo comes amid a sharp rise in German state and media suppression of pro-Palestinian and anti-Occupation voices, with seven journalists having also been sacked by the public broadcaster Deutsche Welle – which adopted a commitment to Israel in its code of conduct – this year over allegations of ‘anti-Semitism’ related to pro-Palestinian activism, before a German labour court ordered it to reinstate three of them.