Palestinians walk past a sign calling for a boycott of Israel painted on a wall in Bethlehem.
(photo credit: AFP PHOTO)
The Green Party president of Baden-Württemberg, Winfried Kretschmann, personally delivered in late March a check for €30,000 ($32,000) to a Lutheran pastor in the West Bank who advocates the destruction of Israel.
“Mitri Raheb [the Bethlehem pastor] authored the ‘Kairos Palestine document of Christians in Palestine’... the German- Israel Friendship Society already criticized the paper at the time of its publication in 2010, because it calls for economic sanctions against Israel... and speaks out against its right to exist,” the friendship society’s Stuttgart chapter wrote in a public letter to Kretschmann on April 9.
The Stuttgart chapter said the Kairos paper “engages in propaganda against Israel using bogus theological arguments.”
The €30,000 is supposed to be used for solar energy technology for the Dar Al Kalima University College of Arts and Culture Bethlehem run by Raheb.
In addition to providing financial support to Raheb, Kretschmann visited Israel with a delegation of companies to establish economic contacts.
Bärbel Illi, writing on behalf of the Stuttgart chapter, asked in the letter: “How does economic cooperation with Israel go with a boycott of Israel?”
Prof. Gerald Steinberg of the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor organization said: “We welcome the letter from the German- Israel Friendship Society in the Stuttgart region, and join in condemning the transfer of public money by state Gov. Kretschmann to Mitri Raheb. Raheb has a long history of immoral incitement against Israel and against the peace process, including his role as co-author of the infamous Kairos Palestine document, which promotes BDS and also glorifies violence against Israeli citizens. This document asserts that ‘Resistance is a right and a duty for Christians and all Palestinians.”
Steinberg continued, “Raheb participates in events such as ‘Christ at the Checkpoint,’ promoting themes that echo theological antisemitism, including references to the DNA of Israeli Jews as coming from an ‘East European tribe who converted to Judaism in the Middle Ages.’ We join in urging Mr. Kretschmann to rescind his support for hate and violence.”
Israeli diplomatic sources in Berlin told The Jerusalem Post
in 2012 that “Raheb is connected to a document – ‘Cairo Palestine’ – that defines Israel as an apartheid state and calls for a boycott of Israel. It is an extremist and racist document which does not contribute to reconciliation and peace between the Palestinians and Israelis. We regret that one of its authors is receiving acknowledgment in Germany.”
At the time, German media NGO and former German president Roman Herzog praised Raheb’s work at a ceremony in Berlin.
Kretschmann’s press office told the Post
that “on account of the Good Friday, Easter holiday and the vacation situation, we, unfortunately, cannot at short notice answer your question” regarding Raheb.
Volker Beck, a Green Party deputy who heads the German- Israel parliamentary group in the Bundestag, told the Post
, “I am certain that the Baden-Württemberg minister president rejects a boycott of Israel and comparisons of Israel with the South African apartheid regime.”
Beck said he is not sure if Kretschmann is aware of Raheb’s positions and his role in the Kairos Palestine document.
Asked numerous times since April 2016 by the Post
about Kretschmann’s position on BDS, his spokesman Rudi Hoogvliet refused to answer questions about BDS and its alleged antisemitic nature.
The state of Baden-Württemberg (population 10.8 million) owns nearly 25% of the bank Landesbank Baden-Württemberg (LBBW), which provides an account to one of Germany’s most active BDS groups, the Palestine Committee Stuttgart. Kretschmann has refused to answer Post
queries over the last year regarding the account. The German-Israel Friendship Society in Stuttgart closed both of its accounts with the LBBW because it refused to terminate the boycott Israel account.
Three German banks – Commerzbank, Bank for Social Economy and DAB – shut BDS accounts last year.
Next month’s Israel Day festival in Stuttgart will take place under the patronage of Kretschmann.
The Israeli Embassy did not immediately reply to a Post
query during the Passover week.