(JTA) – Jewish leaders are slamming a German city’s plan to honour an American organization, Code Pink, which backs the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel with a human rights award.
The American Jewish Committee (AJC) Berlin office urged Bavarian state legislators to publicly distance themselves from the Bayreuth award, which is to be presented on April 15.
The University of Bayreuth had recommended the nongovernmental organization for the Wilhelmine-von-Bayreuth Prize for Tolerance and Humanity in Cultural Diversity, which is worth about $11,000.
“Greater sensitivity” is called for in selecting a recipient, Josef Schuster, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said Thursday, noting this was especially important at a time when Germany “wants to transmit our values to many new immigrants.” According to the German news agency dpa, Schuster noted that Code Pink calls Israel an “apartheid state.”
Israel’s ambassador to Germany, Yakov Hadas-Handelsman, told reporters in Berlin on Thursday that he was “appalled” that such an organization was being honored “in Germany of all places.”
Deidre Berger, director of the AJC office in Germany, expressed disappointment that the Bayreuth City Council voted to honour the group.
“Code Pink has shown its true colours through meetings with Hamas representatives and participating in a hate conference in Iran,” she said in a statement. “An organization that moves in circles that include terrorists and authoritarian regimes is the opposite of a human rights organization and does not deserve any award.”
Bayreuth Mayor Briigitte Merk-Erbe had argued against the prize in the name of “historical responsibility” and “respect for the victims of National Socialism.” But she was overruled in Tuesday’s City Council vote.
According to dpa, Code Pink spokesperson Elsa Rassbach was delighted by the news of the award. She confirmed that the group “is Israel critical, and we stand by this position.”
Code Pink, which was founded in 2002, is a longtime supporter of the BDS campaign. Its co-founder, Medea Benjamin, reportedly took part in 2014 in a state-sponsored conference in Iran, which according to the AJC provided a platform for Islamist and anti-Semitic speakers, and promoters of conspiracy theories.