LWF congratulates Mitri Raheb on receiving the Olof Palme Prize

Olof Palme Memorial Fund winner Rev. Dr Mitri Raheb, 2010. Photo: Gied ten Berge, WikiPortrait
Olof Palme Memorial Fund winner Rev. Dr Mitri Raheb, 2010. Photo: Gied ten Berge, WikiPortrait

“Voice for peace and reason in a volatile region”

(LWI) – The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) congratulates Rev. Dr Mitri Raheb and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) on receiving the 2015 Olof Palme Prize. Raheb is the pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem, which belongs to ELCJHL, an LWF member church.

Raheb shares the prize with Israeli journalist Gideon Levy, “for their courageous and indefatigable fight against occupation and violence, and for a future Middle East characterized by peaceful co-existence and equality for all.”

“By their work they both give a ray of hope to a conflict that has plagued and continues to plague millions of people and to endanger world peace,” the official statement reads.

Munib A. Younan, Bishop of ELCJHL and also president of the LWF, expressed his appreciation for Raheb’s work. “This is an honor to Mitri and the Lutheran Church,” he says. “The ELCJHL is committed to work for justice and reconciliation. Since I became a bishop this has been my line, and all our pastors are committed to this cause. We are happy and proud that one of our pastors is given this recognition.”

Acting General Secretary of the LWF, Maria Immonen, said: “We are proud that Rev. Dr Raheb and our member church in Jordan are playing such a central role as a voice for peace and reason in a very volatile, difficult region. With their witness, they are keeping perspectives of hope alive.”

The Olof Palme Prize was established in 1987 and is awarded annually for an “outstanding achievement in the spirit of Olof Palme”, a former Swedish prime minister known for his work for peace and justice.

Raheb was born in Bethlehem. After completing his studies in Germany, he returned in 1988 to take up the position as the pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church, which he still holds. He is also the founder and president of the Diyar Consortium, a group of Lutheran-based, ecumenically-oriented institutions in the Bethlehem area.

“As preacher and pastor in the Lutheran church, Mitri Raheb sends a clear message to the young generation of Palestinians: ‘We want you to live, not die, for Palestine’”, the Olof Palme Memorial Fund said, in explaining its decision.

“In a Bethlehem confined on three sides by the walls of the occupying Israeli power, and with Dar al-Kalima University College of Arts and Culture that he founded and his innovative artistic education in film, art, and drama, Raheb has made it possible for young people to investigate their Palestinian identity, to nurture beauty, and to invest in a culture of life as tools for a creative resistance against suffocating confinement and nation building.”