German Jews blast Herzl Prize to Angela Merkel

Members of Germany’s Jewish community are speaking out against the World Zionist Organization’s decision to honor German Chancellor Angela Merkel with its prestigious Herzl Award. Every year, the organizations bestows the award upon figures who act to promote Zionist visionary Theodor Herzl’s “ideas for the creation of a safer and more tolerant world for Jews.” Along with Merkel, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has also been selected for the award, which the two women are set to receive in separate ceremonies. However, the announcement of WZO’s plan to honor Merkel has been met with fierce criticism by members of Germany’s Jewish community, who note the change in Merkel’s stance towards Israel in recent years, her support for the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and the increasing sense among the country’s Jews that Berlin is not doing an adequate job of contending with the growing threat to Jews as a result of the anti-Semitic views of Arab and Muslim migrants to the country. Among the points of contention raised by the local Jewish community: Germany’s continued pattern of voting against Israel at the United Nations and other international bodies; Berlin’s continued funding for organizations that support the BDS movement; its refusal to ban Hezbollah activities in the country; and its increased financial support for UNRWA, the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, without conditioning those funds on the cessation of incitement against Israel. There are also those who cite Merkel’s vocal opposition to U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s official capital and Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Popular German Jewish publicist and author Henryk M. Broder questioning the move in an article published in the German media: “What is Merkel getting the prize for? For her representative at the U.N. and the Security Council abstaining from anti-Israel votes, and thereby, in effect, supporting them? For that same official equating Hamas missile attacks on Israeli citizens to Israel’s demolitions of homes?” Dr. Rafael Korenzecher, deputy chair of the Coordinating Council of German Non-Governmental Organizations Against Anti-Semitism, sarcastically remarked that the decision to give Merkel the award was “justified.” “To her credit and the credit of the people around her,” he said, “it should be said they are contributing to German Jews making aliyah to Israel. Chances are that thanks to current policy, Germany will be Judenrein [‘free of Jews’].”

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