Wiesenthal Center Denounces German Prize for Pastor Who Denies Legitimacy of the Jewish People; Urges Former German President to Cancel His Keynote Address

February 5, 2012

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is urging Roman Herzog, the President of Germany from 1994 to 1999, to withdraw his participation in awarding the Deutscher Mediapreis (German Media Prize) to Mitri Raheb, a controversial Palestinian Lutheran pastor in Bethlehem. In a letter to Dr. Herzog, Center Associate Dean, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, said that Pastor Raheb, “consistently has used theological garb to cover an extremist political agenda to demonize the Jewish people.” In speeches given to various religious symposia and church summits (including the infamous 2004 US Presbyterian assembly that approved a boycott and divestment campaign against Israel), Raheb promoted a “Palestinian Theology” that purports that Jews are not the Chosen People and therefore have no right to the Holy Land. In a March 2010 address, he said:

"Actually, the Palestinian Christians are the only ones in the world that, when they speak about their forefathers, they mean their actual forefathers, and also the forefathers in the faith…So, that is the reality of the peoples of the land. Again, they aren't Israel. This experience I'm talking about, it's only the Palestinians who understand this, because Israel represents Rome….It was our forefathers to whom the revelation was given..."

In the letter to Dr. Herzog, Rabbi Cooper also wrote, “It is an outrage that the organizers of the German Media Prize would bestow their highest honor on a religious bigot who is re-introducing Replacement Theology to de-legitimize the Jewish people and its right to pursue its spiritual and national destiny.” Cooper reminded Herzog that he knew the late Simon Wiesenthal and that he knew, “everything he stood for — for the victims of the Nazi Holocaust and for the younger generations in Germany. If he were alive today, what do you think he would say to you?”

Rabbi Cooper added, “In 2012, a study reveals 20% of young Germans never heard of Auschwitz and that anti-Semitic attitudes have run rampant in the mainstream of German society. We urge you not to contribute to further legitimize the campaign to demonize and de-legitimize the Jewish people and the Jewish state and urge you to cancel your speech at this event, unless the organizers withdraw their prize to this religious bigot.”

  Read related Jerusalem Post article....

Former German president to honor anti-Semitic pastor


The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe, and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).

For more information, please contact the Center's Public Relations Department, 310-553-9036, join the Center on Facebook, www.facebook.com/simonwiesenthalcenter, or follow @simonwiesenthal for news updates sent direct to your Twitter page or mobile device.