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B’nai B’rith decries German media prize to Palestinian pastor

(JTA) — B’nai B’rith International called on organizers of a German media prize to reconsider its awarding to a Palestinian pastor.

The Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb, of the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem, has a longstanding reputation for promoting anti-Israel theology and narratives, according to a B’nai B’rith.

In a letter to organizers, B’nai B’rith executive vice president Daniel Mariaschin wrote that Raheb "is distinguished by an extensive record of highly offensive statements that, any positive work notwithstanding, make him ill-suited to receive the endorsement implied by a prestigious German honor that has been bestowed on the likes of Helmut Kohl, Hillary Clinton, Rudolph Giuliani, Angela Merkel and the Dalai Lama."

Raheb’s views echo replacement theology, which asserts that Christians have superseded Jews in the divine plan and have inherited God’s promises to Jews, according to the letter, which was sent last Friday. 

Former German President Roman Herzog, who is slated to make this year’s presentation, also was sent a copy of the letter.

Raheb’s public assertions “represent delegitimization of Israel through denying or trivializing Jews’ historic roots in the land of Israel," it said. "This conflicts squarely with modern Christian abandonment of teachings of contempt for Jews’ faith convictions and rights as a people, and stands firmly in the way of regional reconciliation. Needless to say, such an approach would not be tolerated if directed at Palestinians.”

The letter also noted that B’nai B’rith "is profoundly committed to bridge-building, not least in the Middle East, and particularly to relations between Christians and Jews."

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