The 2015 Olof Palme Prize has been awarded to Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) mission partner the Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb, pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem and president of the Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land; and the Israeli journalist Gideon Levy, author and columnist for Haaretz, Israel’s oldest daily newspaper.
The Swedish foundation says the two are being recognized “for their courageous and indefatigable fight against occupation and violence, and for a future Middle East characterized by peaceful coexistence 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.”
As preacher and pastor in the Lutheran church, Raheb is recognized for sending a clear message to young Palestinians: ”We want you to live, not die, for Palestine.” Long engaged in local, regional, and international efforts on behalf of Palestine, Raheb is also president of Dar al-Kalima University College of Arts and Culture in Bethlehem, which provides innovative artistic education in film, art, and drama. He is author of several books, most recently Faith in the Face of Empire: The Bible through Palestinian Eyes.
Levy, whose parents were forced to emigrate from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia, is known for his controversial views in favor of the Palestinian cause in Israel. He published several articles opposing the Israeli’s army actions in Gaza in the winter of 2008-09 and summer of 2014. He has authored the “Twilight Zone” column in Haaretz for over 25 years, detailing the struggles of Palestinians living Gaza and the West Bank. The winner of the Euro-Med journalism prize, the jury called him a "true patriot (who) has made reconciliation with the Palestinian people the mission of his life."
The Board of the Olof Palme Memorial Fund selects recipients of the annual Olof Palme Prize for outstanding achievement in the spirit of Swedish statesman Olof Palme (1927-1986). Previous recipients include former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, and Amnesty International. The Prize consists of a diploma and $75,000 and will be awarded in a January 29 ceremony in Stockholm.