The France24 logo. Source: Screenshot.
The France24 logo. Source: Screenshot.

The antisemitic social-media divas of France24

The online histories of Joelle Maroun, Laila Odeh and Dina Abi-Saab should warrant employment termination at any self-respecting Western media outlet.

“They asked Hitler, ‘What did you do with the Jews?’ He said, ‘Nothing extraordinary, [just having] barbecue with the guys.”

This abhorrent antisemitic “joke” would be at home on the vilest neo-Nazi website. Yet this particular piece of wit was lifted from a Twitter account of a journalist working for French public broadcaster France24.

CAMERA has recently documented highly problematic terminology and content in France24’s Arabic service, including factual errors which the Arabic subsidiary persistently refused to correct. Our new investigation of the social-media accounts of some of the journalists responsible for the egregiously flawed news content reveals outright hatred and deep ignorance, raising serious concerns about the journalists, who draw their salaries from French taxpayers. Among these taxpayers are hundreds of thousands of French Jews, arguably the largest Jewish community in Western Europe and one of the biggest in the world.

‘If Only Hitler Was Lebanese’

Lebanese journalist Joelle Maroun, who posted the Hitler barbeque quip, has been serving as France24’s regular Beirut correspondent since August 2021. Had her employers bothered to review her extensive social media record before hiring, they would have found numerous tweets expressing strong admiration for Adolf Hitler, support for the murder of innocent Jewish civilians and other displays of vile speech.

For instance, following the 2014 riots in Lebanon’s Roumieh prison, she tweeted: “Roumieh is on fire; For sure, they should have had Hitler in charge!” On more than one occasion, Maroun has lamented Hitler’s present-day absence, tweeting, for instance, “Rise, sir Hitler, rise, there are a few people that need to be burned.”

Maroun also liked the following comment on her tweet: “He should have been cloned for a time of need.”

Maroun’s passion for genocide isn’t restricted to the historical context. Her practical advice for Palestinians is: “It is upon every Palestinian to kill one Jew, and the case is closed.”

In response to a comment blaming the IDF of “criminally” killing innocent civilians in Gaza during “Operation Protective Edge,” Maroun interjected, “Did anyone say a Jew?” Holding Jews collectively responsible for the actions of the state of Israel is straight out of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism, which is accepted by dozens of governments, including France’s.

When specially designated global terrorist Samir Kuntar of Lebanon was killed in a rocket attack targeting the building where he worked for Hezbollah, Maroun honored him as a “martyr.”

Quntar is best known in Israel for infiltrating the country, kidnapping a four-year-old girl, shooting her father before her eyes, and bludgeoning her to death. “He smashed my little girl’s skull in against a rock with his rifle butt,” the girl’s mother later recounted.

Maroun also praised as “beautiful” a Lebanese television show dedicated to Kuntar, again calling him a “martyr.”

Subtly entitled “Between Thought, Environment, Resistance and Martyrdom,” the fawning broadcast repeatedly described Kuntar as a “hero,” a “jihad warrior” and a “resistance warrior.” Meanwhile, the program dehumanized Kuntar’s victims, a father and his two tiny daughters, as “several Zionists.” The show’s host and his three guests shared their hope that Kuntar’s actions would inspire many others to follow his murderous path.

An American peace proposal was also cause for an eruption of antisemitic fervor, eliciting this tweet from Maroun: “[…] #The_deal_of_the_century is repatriation [of Palestinians in Lebanon], dispossession, consuming what is rightfully yours in the [Lebanese] interior – lands, gas etc., and the worst – the tyranny of the Jew and his filth. I am from the South [of Lebanon] and familiar with these things.” (Emphasis added.)

But it’s not just tremendously wicked figures and historically momentous occasions which prompt Maroun’s vitriolic espousals. Even mundane subjects such as soccer inspire her to spew hate. For instance, in response to a tweet lamenting the Tunisian national team’s loss to its Belgian rival in the 2018 World Cup, Maroum empathized: “[I’m] with you, Ali, spending Saturday up a Jew’s a*s.”

Really, though, Maroun doesn’t need any prompting at all to share her antisemitism. Any plain day will do: “July refuses to let go! #I_hate_you,_you_Jew.” And apropos absolutely nothing in particular, she tweeted: “If only Hitler was Lebanese.”

Notably, as part of her France24 position in Beirut, Maroun has covered Israeli- and Jewish- related topics. For example, she was interviewed multiple times about the dispute between Lebanon and Israel over the maritime border.

Laila Odeh: Murderers as ‘Martyrs’

As CAMERA Arabic frequently documented, veteran France24 Jerusalem correspondent Laila Odeh, who covers Israeli and Palestinian affairs, has long permitted her anti-Israel sentiments to permeate her coverage, failing to meet basic journalistic standards of objectivity and accuracy.

The bereaved and proud sister of a Fatah terrorist who was killed in a clash with IDF soldiers near the Israeli city of Beit She’an in June 1970 when she was just a toddler, Odeh expresses her antipathy even more openly on social media.

Thus, she consistently glorifies “martyrs” who target and kill civilians, and refers to the terrorists’ deaths as “martyrdom.” She has applied this laudatory designation to Hamas– and PIJ-affiliated Muhammad ‘Asi, who planted a bomb on a Tel Aviv bus in November 2012, wounding 28 civilians (he “ascended to the highest heavens,” she marveled); to Ashraf Na’alwa, who, in October 2018, killed two Israeli civilians in the West Bank’s Barkan industrial zone; to Hamas-affiliated Saleh Omar Barghouthi, who in December 2018, shot a pregnant woman, killing her baby; to Omar Abu Leila, who in March 2019, fired on civilians near Ariel, killing a civilian and a soldier; to Sami Abu Diak, who murdered civilian Ilya Krivich, 61, in June 2001; to Hamas-affiliated Fadi Abu Shkhaydam, who murdered civilian Eli Kay in Jerusalem in November 2021; and to Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade-affiliated Ra’d Hazem, who murdered three civilians in Tel Aviv in April 2022.

She also praised terrorist Muhammad Tareq Yous, who stabbed to death Yotam Ovadia, 31, a father of two infants: “Death of one of the settlers in the stabbing operation in the settlement of Adam, carried out by a Palestinian who was martyred after getting shot.” (Emphasis added.)

In additional social media posts, Odeh likewise exhibited her utter incapability to function as a well-informed and balanced observer of the conflict.

With no filter, the transparent Odeh freely shared: “Because I am a Palestinian refugee, I demand of the Arab League to arm me so that I retrieve my land which Israel has unlawfully occupied. And because I am a sister of a martyr, I demand of the Arab League to arm me so that I retrieve the body of my martyr brother.”

Israel, she said, “dumps the complex of its Holocaust on the Palestinians, it despises Hitler while having become a version of him.”

Editorializing about Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket fire on Israel followed by Israel’s retaliatory airstrikes, Odeh differentiated between the “martyrdom of seven Palestinians in Gaza,” and the “death of an Israeli settler in Ashkelon,” referring to Moshe Agadi, 58, of Ashkelon, a father of four.

Odeh marked the 102 anniversary of the Balfour declaration with a long diatribe slamming “the establishment of a national homeland for [Jews] in Palestine, a euphemism for occupation,” and Britain’s long standing non-apology for Jewish sovereignty: “To this day, the United Kingdom does not feel guilty and has not assumed responsibility for the Balfour declaration … Palestinian rejection maintained its path and the British promise kept its persistence without retraction or even an apology.”

In her lengthy counter-historical rant, she blames the Holocaust for the Balfour declaration despite the fact that the 1917 British pledge preceded the World War II slaughter of Europe’s Jews by a good couple of decades: “The UK will never apologize due to [the fact that] the Jew for whom Balfour had felt sorrow because of the Holocaust is not the Jew that settled the lands of historical Palestine north to south, with no one strong enough to take him out.”

Dina Abi-Saab: Cheers for Hamas Rockets

Residing in and reporting from the Middle East is not a prerequisite to membership in France24 Arabic’s hate-on-Jews club. In the heart of Europe, Lebanese Dina Abi-Saab has been France24’s Geneva correspondent since February 2016, covering U.N.-related issues, including matters involving Israel.

In the same time period, on social media, she celebrated rockets falling on Israel’s civilian population and whitewashed them “resistance;” blamed Jewish immigration to Israel (“Palestine”) as the source of all problems in the Middle East; like Odeh before her, she glorified Omar Abu Leila, who murdered a Jewish civilian, as a “martyr”; and likened the Israeli military’s bombing of empty skyscrapers in Gaza—occupants evacuated after receiving advance notice from the army—to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

It seems that even calling “Israel” by its name takes special effort for Abi-Saab. In December 2013, more than two years before she started working for France24, she wrote on Facebook:

“It might happen in the future that I will have to #apologize to Israel, since from now until death its name will remain Palestine from the river to the sea, and the names of villages and cities will stay Palestinian, and I haven’t stopped hoping it [Israel] is to be annihilated—this [Facebook] status is for safekeeping.”

Some seven years later, she stayed true to her promise, citing “the Lebanese border with occupied Palestine.”

Sharif Bibi: ‘We Will Eradicate You, Israel’

The social media histories of Maroun, Odeh and Abi-Saab should warrant employment termination at any self-respecting Western media outlet. All three journalists demonstrated consistent hatred and ignorance over several years, even as their professional obligations called on them to cover Israeli- and Jewish-related affairs.

In the less enduring case of Lebanese Sharif Bibi, however, a full retraction and public apology might suffice. Although his posts reflect almost the same levels of toxicity and misinformation, they are fewer and further apart.

A France24 journalist since February 2014, Bibi assumed an additional position at InfoMigrants in 2017. (Along with the public broadcasting corporation of France, InfoMigrants and its Arabic-speaking subsidiary are owned and operated by the German Deutsche Welle and Italian nonprofit ANSA.)

Notwithstanding his ostensible social-media preoccupation with human rights for migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers, Bibi seemed disconcertingly unperturbed about the fate of Israel’s Jewish population in the event of the country’s annihilation. He tweeted: “Hear ye – hear ye – hear ye – from the sea of the martyrs’ blood – from the effort of the red revolutionaries – we shall eradicate you, Israel, from your [very] roots.”

During his tenure as a France24 employee, Bibi delegitimized Israel as the “Zionist entity,” and likewise evaded saying Israel’s name by citing “Zionist” individuals and institutions.

All research and translations within the text by CAMERA Arabic. (CAMERA Arabic translations may vary from Google translations provided within Twitter’s platform.) Editing by Tamar Sternthal.

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