The governor of the German state of Bavaria, Horst Seehofer, weighed in on the heated dispute over awarding a tolerance prize to the Israel boycott group Code Pink, saying Thursday: “For me the Bavarian-Israel friendship is--in equal measure-- a mission and an obligation. That also belongs to my advocacy against anti-Semitism and intolerant statements, wherever they surface.”
In response to a Jerusalem Post media query about the Bayreuth city council voting to award a prize to the allegedly anti-Semitic organization, Seehofer’s spokeswoman Daniela Philippi sent The Post his comment. Bayreuth is located in Bavaria.
When asked about Seehofer’s statement, the Israeli Embassy in Berlin and the General Consulate in Munich wrote The Post in a joint statement that they “acted to prevent the awarding of the ‘Wilhelmine-von Bayreuth’ prize to the organization "Code Pink.”’ The diplomats added “It is shocking that in Germany, of all places, a decision was taken to award, in the name of tolerance and humanitarianism, an organization which openly denies the right of the state of Israel to exist.
It seems that in Bayreuth the definition of tolerance and humanitarianism means: "cooperating with Holocaust deniers in Iran, boycotting Jews and rejecting the right of Israel to exist (as it can be clearly seen in this organization's website).”
Seehofer’s party the Christian Social Union is a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s governing coalition. It is first time that a national member of Merkel's governing coalition has criticized the prize to Code Pink. Seehofer has the power to make or break Merkel's coalition.
Code Pink is an alleged extremist American left-wing anti-war group that promotes a boycott of the Jewish state and reportedly participated at anti-Western conference with Holocaust deniers in 2014. In a stinging article in “Humanitarian anti-Semitism” Code Pink, a women’s organization, flatly rejects the allegations of anti-Semitism and trafficking in Holocaust denial. The city council of Bayreuth voted 23-18 to award the prize and 10,000 Euros to Code Pink in February.
The Mayor of Bayreuth Brigitte Merk-Erbe announced in February before the city council vote her opposition to the award out of a responsibility to the victims of the Hitler movement. Jewish human rights groups praised Merk-Erbe’s position.
The conflict is viewed by many as a great source of embarrassment for Bayreuth, which holds an annual music festival devoted to the operas of Richard Wagner. The 19th century composer was a raging hater of Jews.
The regional Nordbayericher Kurier paper reported a new chapter of the German-Israel friendship society formed in late February in Bayreuth. The 25 members of the group plan to protest the award ceremony to Code Pink in April.
Separately, The Christian Social Union party rejected Munich city award on Wednesday to the German chapter Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom on allegations of anti-Semitism.
In a telephone conversation with the Post on Thursday,Charlotte Knobloch, the president of Jewish community in Munich, praised Seehofer’s engagement for the security of Israel and his efforts to combat anti-Semitism. She welcomed the decision on of the city of Munich to pull the plug on the award to the Women’s International League because of comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany.
The NGO wrote that Israel waged “a war of destruction“ against the Palestinians in 2009. Knobloch said the group’s anti-Israel activities is a modernized form of the Nazi slogan:“Don’t buy from Jews!“
Knobloch survived the Holocaust and is widely considered to be one of the leading human rights advocates in Germany.