Groups ask Germany to cancel award to Palestinian (JERUSALEM POST) By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT 02/21/12)
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BERLIN – Christian and Jewish organizations called on the German
issuers of the Media Control prize to disqualify the anti-Israel
Palestinian Lutheran pastor who is set to receive it.
Karlheinz Kögel, the founder of the prize, wrote in an email to The
Jerusalem Post on Friday that a “deep conflict has unfolded and we do
not want to boost it.”
His group has “received hundreds of protest emails,”he added.
Bethlehem-based pastor Mitri Raheb is slated to receive the
humanitarian prize on Thursday in the southwestern German city of
Raheb supports the controversial Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions
movement targeting the Jewish state, and has rejected the right of
the Jewish people to live in Israel.
According to the Jewish NGO B’nai B’rith, Raheb said at the 2010
Christ at the Checkpoint Conference – an overtly anti-Israel
gathering – that “Israel represents Rome of the Bible, not the people
of the land,” asserting that he has a DNA link to King David and
Jesus. But, he said, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu does not have
this link and “will get nothing, because Netanyahu comes from an
eastern European tribe who converted to Judaism in the Middle Ages.”
Daniel S. Mariaschin, B’nai B’rith International’s executive vice
president, told the Post that “Mitri Raheb’s words and deeds are a
real-time example of the demonization of Israel with the intention of
delegitimizing Israel. This should be enough to disqualify him from
receiving the prize and should in fact make him the subject of
criticism, instead of the recipient of a prestigious award.”
“We have appealed to organizing leader Karlheinz Kögel to withdraw
any tribute to Raheb. And if the committee doesn’t withdraw the
prize, we are urging former German president Roman Herzog to not
participate in the event,” Mariaschin added.
A spokeswoman for Herzog told the Post last week that he will not
issue a statement before the prize ceremony and plans to attend,
adding that he will honor all recipients of the prize.
The German Coordinating Council of Societies for Christian and Jewish
Cooperation slammed Herzog’s decision to praise Raheb. The
pastor “revives hostile stereotypes toward Jews” and argues Jesus was
Palestinian and not a Jew, the organization wrote in a letter last
Raheb advocates that Palestine should replace Israel, according to
the Christian- Jewish group. Against this background,
his “Palestinian liberation theology must be clearly designated as
anti- Semitism.” The letter also noted that Raheb’s statements recall
the anti-Jewish tone of the Nazi period.
Deidre Berger, head of the Berlin-based office of the American Jewish
Committee, said last week that “Dr. Raheb is known for his radical
theology, which is racist and partially anti-Semitic.”
Berger wrote Herzog and the Media-Control NGO a letter, demanding
that both Herzog and the German group distance themselves from
Raheb’s hostile statements toward Jews and Israel.
“He denies one of the main pillars of Germany’s foreign policy,
namely, the recognition of Israel’s right to exist,” she said.
Israeli diplomats in Berlin expressed displeasure with the award to
Reinhold Robbe, head of the German-Israeli Friendship Society, also
objected last week to the decision to honor Raheb.
“He is not a promoter of peace,” Robbe said.
Raheb responded to the accusations last week in an interview with the
daily Frankfurter Rundschau, titled “Media prize for enemy of the
Jews or promoter of piece?” “Those are, of course, defamatory
statements. These people toss terms around without being able to
prove anything. They do not want to objectively discuss things. Most
of the accusations are not coming from Jews, but rather from
Christian Zionists. They do not want a Palestinian to receive a prize
in Germany,” Raheb said. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 02/21/12)
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