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More leaders call on Germany to rescind award

BERLIN (JTA) — Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman joined the chorus of criticism against Germany for honoring staunch anti-Israel activist Felicia Langer.

"For years, Langer has supported forces that promote violence, death and extremism,“ Yigal Palmor told the Tagesspiegel newspaper, adding that "whoever wants to present an Order [of Merit] to her has to be aware of the consequences for the future, when you legitimize past intolerance and evil intentions.“

His comments appear in the paper’s July 24 edition.

Severe criticism, particularly in Germany’s Jewish community, has been raised since Germany bestowed the Order of Merit on Langer, who is Jewish, on July 16.

The head of the German-Israeli Society in a statement Thursday called on Germany to withdraw the major humanitarian award, saying such an act is not unprecedented.

"It was a bad mistake to honor Ms. Langer," Johannes Gerster said in his statement. "Mistakes should be corrected."

Gerster, a non-Jew, argued that Germany has withdrawn such honors in the past.

Several organizations, from the Central Council of Jews in Germany to the American Jewish Committee, have expressed dismay at the decision to honor Langer. Prominent recipients of the award in Germany and Israel have said they would return their Order of Merit if Langer’s is not rescinded.

"If Ms. Langer wants to wage a personal publicity war against the land of Israel, which she left in 1990, that’s her business," Gerster said in his statement. But Langer "constantly and knowingly mixes up cause and effect in the Mideast conflict," and "falsifies history through one-sided, refutable assignation of guilt on Israel. Such methods don’t do anything for the important cause of peace" but rather incite hate and strengthen Islamic fundamentalists, he added.

Gerster, who returned Wednesday from an eight-day trip to the Middle East, said that Israeli and Palestinian politicians expressed surprise at Germany’s recognition of Langer.
 

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