Attorney and Israel critic Felicia Langer receives.
(photo credit: Baden-Württemberg State Website)
The Jerusalem Post on Monday obtained
an exclusive letter from German President Horst Köhler criticizing the decision
to award Germany's highest medal of honor - the Federal Cross of Merit - to
anti-Zionist attorney Felicia Langer.
Dr. Gert Haller, the highest ranking state secretary in
Federal President Köhler's office, issued a letter dated September 4 to Arno S.
Hamburger, the head of the Nuremberg Jewish community, describing the process to
award Langer as "terribly unfortunate."
Hamburger returned his Federal Cross of Merit on September 1
to protest the lack of response from the Federal government to his letter of
complaint in July.
The German government's backpedalling comes as a result of a
wave of protests from Jewish organizations and Israel's Foreign Ministry over
the July award to Langer, who frequently compares Israel with Nazi Germany and
the former apartheid regime in South Africa. Haller wrote in his letter that
"the massive criticism of the award to Mrs. Langer led to an immediate
examination of the matter of the award."
Haller wrote to Hamburger that "the award you criticized
upset many people whose concerns for peace and justice cannot be doubted. That
is terribly unfortunate. None of the officials of the Federal and State
government intended that, as I know from my discussions with people involved.
Everyone is, in fact, deeply distressed and wish that the disturbance could be
Haller wrote to Hamburger that "he (the German president)
appreciates your clear, firm statements" in connection with the Langer matter.
However, the state secretary said the "legal situation "was
carefully examined and entailed a great amount of time to examine the
"accusations." He added, however, that "there is no basis" to rescind the award.
Reached in Nuremberg, Arno Hamburger, told the Post on Monday that the president's letter was "excellent"
because Köhler expressed that "the award upset " people who are "concerned with
peace." Hamburger, who consulted with the authorities about the legal basis to
revoke the award, said Köhler could only strip Langer of her award if she was
convicted of a criminal offense and issued a sentence of one year without
Hamburger said he was very pleased that the letter stated in
clear terms "Germany's solidarity with Israel." According to the letter, in
light of the Langer award, "it is even more important to place events in
perspective. Germany's solidarity with Israel and the Jewish peoples is