Legal action launched by prominent German Jewish lawyer Nathan Gelbart and the US-based Lawfare Project caused the head of communications for the giant German Hesse Broadcasting Company to unblock his Twitter account that prevented a Jerusalem Post reporter’s access.”I consider it as highly problematic if a state owned broadcasting station, funded by the taxpayer, is blocking journalists because of unpleasant reporting or inquiries. This behavior is unacceptable and constitutes a severe violation of the freedom of press and information. I am happy that HR[Hesse Broadcasting] answered our complaint and unblocked my client without court procedures,”Gelbart told the Post.
Christoph Hammerschmidt, who oversees the communications department for the Frankfurt-based broadcaster blocked the Post’s European affairs correspondent Benjamin Weinthal in January in connection with his questions about the news outlet allegedly blaming Israeli Jews for antisemitism and its ostensible stoking of Jew-hatred in the federal republic.Brooke Goldstein, Executive Director of the US-based The Lawfare Project, told the Post that “It was bad enough when a reporter at a state-owned news outlet blamed Jews for antisemitism. It was even worse when the official spokesman for that same news outlet blocked a Jewish reporter for asking questions about it. We’re glad The Lawfare Project could be of assistance in overturning this absurd ban.”The Post article reported that Hesse Broadcasting journalist Sabine Müller wrote on the website of the German public broadcaster Tagesschau (ARD) that the memorial event at Yad Vashem was “a missed chance in the fight against antisemitism,” leading to the view among experts on contemporary antisemitism that Müller argued that Israeli Jews were not combating Jew-hatred.Müller wrote that it was unworthy “how Israel and Russia partially kidnapped this commemoration day” with respect to the 75th commemoration of the liberation of Auschwitz. She accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of “egoism,” suggesting the Jewish state exploited the Holocaust.Weinthal had turned to Christoph Hammerschmidt’s Twitter account to ask him questions about alleged antisemitism at the broadcaster after he stopped answering Post email media queries on January 30.
Isabelle Fried, a Hesse Broadcasting representative, said in an email that “Mr. Hammerschmidt met the original request to remove the block at the beginning of the week. Mr. Hammerschmidt is fundamentally willing to make a corresponding cease and desist declaration for the future.”Fried and a second Hesse representative, Steffen Janich, wrote in a letter to Gelbart that Hammerschmidt’s account is a private Twitter feed.However, Hammerschmidt’s Twitter biography identifies him as the “Director of Communication for the Hessischer Rundfunk and Managing Director hr-media.”He joined Twitter in 2010 and as of Friday has 223 followers and follows 124 accounts. The Hesse letter complained about an “offensive” on Hammerschmidt’s Twitter account from Weinthal. It is unclear what this means.