German president regrets Langer award

'Post' obtains exclusive letter criticizing decision to give medal of honor to anti-Zionist attorney.

Felicia Langer  and german 248.88 (photo credit: Baden-W?rttemberg State Website)
Felicia Langer and german 248.88
(photo credit: Baden-W?rttemberg State Website)
The highest ranking state secretary in the German President's Office has criticized the awarding of the Federal Republic's highest honor to anti-Zionist attorney Felicia Langer. Dr. Gert Haller, from President Horst Köhler's office, issued a letter on Friday to Arno S. Hamburger, the head of the Jewish community in Nuremberg, describing the decision to give the Federal Cross of Merit to Langer, as "terribly unfortunate." A copy of the letter was obtained by The Jerusalem Post on Monday. Hamburger returned his 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 backpedaling comes after a wave of protests from Jewish organizations and the Israeli Foreign Ministry over the July award to Langer, who frequently compares the Jewish state 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." He told 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 governments intended that, as I know from my discussions with people involved. Everyone is, in fact, deeply distressed and wishes that the disturbance could be undone." "He [the German president] appreciates your clear, firm statements" in connection with the Langer matter, Haller wrote. The state secretary said that the "legal situation" was carefully looked into and it took a great deal of time to examine the "accusations." He added, however, "there is no basis" to rescind the award. Reached in Nuremberg, Hamburger, told the Post on Monday that the president's letter was "excellent," because Köhler said that "the award upset" people who were "concerned with peace." Hamburger, who consulted with the authorities about the legal basis for revoking the award, said Köhler could only strip Langer of the honor if she was convicted of a crime and sentenced to at least a year in prison. Hamburger said he was very pleased that the letter expressed in clear terms "Germany's solidarity with Israel." According to Haller's 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 people is unalterable." Felicia Langer was born in Poland in 1930, and lived in Israel from 1939 to 1990, when she moved to Germany.