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"We're honoring people who have contributed to the Jewish community in America. [The UJA] reached out to the head of a German company—partly because of his ability to raise money."
——an American Jewish Congress organizer
MIDDELHOFF CRITICIZED FOR AWARD
Jewish Leaders Unhappy With German Roots, German Name, German...Oh, You Get The Picture
Bertelsmann AG chief Thomas Middelhoff picked up the United Jewish Appeal's Steven J. Ross Humanitarian Award at the Waldorf in New York on Monday (5/14).

In an effort to distance himself and the Germany-based Bertelsmann from Nazi sentiments, Middelhoff wisely removed all references to the Sudetenland from his speech. But not everyone was appreciative.

Upstairs at the Starlight Roof, the American Jewish Congress paid tribute to a group that included Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Michael Bloomberg and Itzhak Perlman. Members of the AJC managed to find time in the busy ceremony to criticize the UJA’s decision.

"We're honoring people who have contributed to the Jewish community in America. [The UJA] reached out to the head of a German company—partly because of his ability to raise money," one AJC organizer said.

Some prominent members of the UJA also criticized the choice. Matthew Bronfman, brother of Seagram CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr., supposedly expressed disapproval and skipped the ceremonies, saying "I had to wash my hair that night."

Time Warner CEO Gerald Levin, who co-headed the UJA event, agreed that while the selection of Middelhoff was controversial, the dissention was mild.

"When you have a man of integrity like Thomas Middelhoff, we have to understand and put history in perspective," he said. "Sure, he may be a German, but he’s not actually harming anyone. Hey, check out the Christina Aguilera CD he gave me!"

UJA keynote speaker Elie Wiesel stressed that he accepted the invitation to speak "because I strongly oppose collective condemnation," in addition to his own "personal relationship" with Middelhoff.

"I come from the tradition from the Jewish prophet Ezekiel that forbids us to blame sons for their parents’ sins," he said. "There are no exceptions to that rule, unless, of course, hilarious prop comic Carrot Top procreates."

Middelhoff could not be reached for comment, though sources close to him say that he has cancelled this week’s plans for world domination "as a gesture of goodwill."

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