The Bavarian city of Bayreuth is slated to award 10,000 euros in April to a US-based activist group - Code Pink - that supports a boycott of the Jewish state and has participated in a conference in Iran with Holocaust deniers.
The decision by Bayreuth to award the Wilhelmine von Bayreuth-Preis has sparked outrage from Jewish human rights organizations.
"It is hard to imagine that any due diligence was undertaken by the Wilhelmine von Bayreuth Award committee before it decided to bestow its highest honor to this group," Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.
Cooper provided three examples of Code Pink’s anti-Israel agitation. In the first example, the group's activists are seen in a video in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was equated with Adolf Hitler.
“Hitler, Yahoo, You Will See, Palestine Will Be free!" they chanted at a protest in front of an AIPAC conference in 2015.
"This genocidal chant alone should disqualify Code Pink from any 'tolerance award' in Germany," Cooper said.
In the YouTube video link provided by Cooper, Code Pink’s chanted in 2015: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” Critics say this type of rhetoric seeks the dissolution of Israel.
"Then there is the matter of Code Pink‘s top leaders participating - in what in Germany would be a criminal enterprise - an anti-Semitic Holocaust Denial Conference convened by the serial human rights deniers in Tehran," he said.
Cooper added the third reason for disqualifying the group was the “desecration of Judaism‘s holiest site - Western Wall - by Code Pink to promote the anti-Semitic, extreme anti-peace, BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement."
"Bayreuth dishonors itself and the values that the award articulates by such a choice," he said. "The Simon Wiesenthal Center urges Bayreuth not to honor those who validate deniers of the Nazi Holocaust, who seek the destruction of the Jewish democratic state of Israel."
Bayreuth said it decided to honor Code Pink because it is "engaged as a grassroots democracy movement and for an end to military conflicts."
Jonathan A. Greenblatt, CEO of the New York-based human right group Anti-Defamation League, told the Post
“ADL believes it is inappropriate for the city of Bayreuth to present an award to the group called Code Pink. This is an organization which engages in the most extreme anti-Israel behavior. It pushes boycotts against Israel, disrupts Israeli speakers wherever they appear and seeks to bring other progressive groups into their obsessive anti-Israel orbit. Whatever one’s views on Israel, Code Pink’s positions are beyond the pale.”
“The nature of Code Pink alone should disqualify them from receiving an award from any responsible body. When one adds to that the history of Bayreuth and its links to the anti-Semitism of Richard Wagner, it is particularly important for the city to withdraw this award.”
Wagner, a 19th-century composer, was a fierce hater of Jews who aimed to purge German music of Jews and any Jewish artistic influences. Israel-state sponsored orchestras generally do not perform Wagner because of his association with hardcore German anti-Semitism and the Hitler movement. Hitler was wildly enthusiastic about Wagner.
In 1938, Bayreuth citizens and Nazi members damaged and ransacked the city’s synagogue.*
Code Pink has joined the BDS movement calling for a full-blown boycott of Israel. Code Pink’s website lists a page titled “Justice for Palestine” and urges people to boycott Ahava cosmetics and Sodastream products.
The Post sent multiple email queries to the mayor of Bayreuth, Brigitte Merk-Erbe. Her spokesman Joachim Oppold told the Post on Wednesday via telephone that she is on vacation today but will return on Thursday.
Oppold said the Israeli consulate in Munich contacted the mayor about the Code Pink award. He declined to cite specifics. Oppold said the mayor will respond to the Post’s press queries on Thursday in connection with the Wiesenthal and ADL criticism. The Post sent a detailed query about Code Pink activities. The mayor’s office told the Post that they want to secure a comment from Code Pink.
In a 2014 BuzzFeed article by Rosie Gray titled “Antiwar Activists, 9/11 Truthers Gather In Tehran For Anti-Zionist Conference," Gray wrote Code Pink chief Medea Benjamin attended the event along with“ former Cambodian genocide denier Gareth Porter, conspiracy journalist and 9/11 truther Wayne Madsen, and PressTV contributor Kevin Barrett are all reportedly at the conference. Other reported attendees include Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, the anti-Semitic French comedian whose performances have been banned in several French jurisdictions, several Holocaust deniers..."
Medea Benjamin spoke on the panel titled “Israel Lobby vs. The US National Interest (especially as it relates to Middle East policy).” The conference was founded by former Iranian President and Holocaust denier Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Press TV wrote that the 2015 conference “goal is to unveil the secrets behind the dominance of the Zionist lobby over US and EU politics.”
Bayreuth’s press release states Code Pink deserves the award because of the group’s contribution to “tolerance and humanity in cultural diversity."
*Correction:The article previously stated the synagogue was burned.