Nach langer Coronapause kommen jetzt wieder die ersten Gäste ins WBC nach Jerusalem: Kerstin Griese (2. v. r.) ist Mitbegründerin des Willy-Brandt-Zentrums, MdB und Parlamentarische Staatssekretärin. „Das Willy Brandt Center ist einer der wenigen Orte im Nahen Osten, wo echte Begegnung und Kommunikation zwischen Israelis sowie Palästinenserinnen und Palästinenser, auch mit deutschen Gruppen, die zu Besuch kommen, stattfindet, sagte Griese nach ihrem Gespräch mit Dor Kfir, Moran Chen-Spitzner, Wiebke Warkentin und Nimala Kharoufeh. „Für mich ist das WBC ein Stück Heimat, denn ich habe es von Anfang an unterstützt. Deshalb habe ich mich sehr gefreut, dort zu sein.“
Die allgemeine politische Lage schätzt Kerstin Griese pessimistisch ein: „Besonders besorgt mich, dass es kaum noch Kontakte zwischen Israelis und Palästinensern auf der zwischenmenschlichen Ebene gibt. Wenn man sich nicht kennt, vergisst man einander und arbeitet nicht mehr an einer gemeinsamen Zukunft.“
OPENING OF THE EXHIBIION
Saturday, February 26th at 11am
at the Willy Brandt Center Jerusalem, 22 Ein Rogel Street
Kirszenbaum’s caricatures caught the spirit of the Weimar Republic and are today as relevant as ever. Ruthless businessmen, corrupt politiicians, the fight for gender equality and the battle against antisemitism are sadly still topics of our world today.
Jecheskiel David Kirszenbaum (1900-1954) was without doubt a painter and caricaturist of highest artistic quality, who first gained reputatation at the Bauhaus in Weimar and whose art was later celebrated in Berlin and Paris.
His touching life story takes us from his childhood in the Polish shtetl to the internatinonal Parisian art scene of Montmartre followed by persecution by the National Socialists, immense losses, most dramatically the murder of his wife in Auschwitz.
The opening will take place Saturday, February 26th at 11am in presence of J.D. Kirszenbaum’s nephew Nathan Diament.
The Exhibition can be seen at the Willy Brandt Center until March 20, 2022
Visiting hours by appointment via firstname.lastname@example.org
For further details please send an email to:
Many thanks to
International Women’s Day is a global holiday celebrated annually on March 8th to honor the cultural, political, and socioeconomic achievements of women. This year, we have chosen to celebrate this day in an eight-hour long celebration at the Willy Brandt Center in Jerusalem, with online panels, performances and movie screenings.
Due to the COVID19 Pandemic guidelines, the celebrations took place virtually via ZOOM. We invited activists, artists, journalists, race car drivers, and researchers from all over the world, to share their personal stories as well as their thoughts and views regarding International Women’s Day. We were overwhelmed by the fact that so many guests from different countries and continents joined us, some of them even staying with us for the whole day.
The event began with an international champion, the Palestinian race car driver Noor Daoud from Ramallah who is the first female drift racer in the Middle East. She shared with us important moments of her life, her passions and the challenges that she had been through. Daoud described her journey from the very beginning, when she fell in love with cars as a little girl. She cherished her collection of toy cars – since she was a child, all she liked to do was to play with them. Her mother had supported her unique professional career from the start, and her passion, self-discipline and commitment grew and made her the first female drifter in the Middle East, an international prize winner and participant in international movies.
We also had the pleasure to watch an interview with Prof. Andrea Peto from the Central European University in Vienna, that was produced and filmed by the Jewish Museum Hohenems as part of the exhibition “The Last Europeans”. In the interview, Prof. Peto talked about Women’s rights and Gender Studies with a special focus on the increasing challenges during the times of the global pandemic.
We were exited to host the young musicologist and art manager Katharina Bohler from Munich, who presented her academic study on female conductors and their role as leaders in the classical music scene.
Some contributions were given by young women that live in Nablus, and they shared the challenges faced by women in a patriarchal society.
We then welcomed the reporter Jessica Golloher, who joined us live from the USA. As one of radio news’ most prolific female voices, Golloher is known for presenting front-line, breaking news reports from complex, often violent, crisis zones. She talked about the importance of journalism today, her international career as a female reporter, and her most nerve-wracking situations while working in war zones.
The event continued with a very interesting conversation with Mahdi Baraghiti, an artist who filmed his mother talking about memories during hard times as a Palestinian refugee. The next talk, by Hadeel Abu Salih, featured feminist movements through historical Palestine.
We were then proud to welcome Swiss singer, actress and dramaturge Christiane Boesiger, who gave an introduction and artistic tribute to the Argentinian-Swiss feminist poet Alfonsina Storni, one of the most renowned poets in Latin American literature. Her literary work reflects her conflict with society and its values, and especially her lifelong battle for women’s rights, making Storni’s work seem more relevant today than ever before.
In our final session, Israeli actress and filmmaker Moryia Benavot talked about her movie “Empty Handed”. Stillbirth and pregnancy loss are usually only discussed behind closed doors; the film, which is now being edited, is an attempt to shed some light on this important subject. “Empty Handed” follows the filmmaker’s life from right before she found out she was pregnant, through checkups, results, heart shattering doubts, life changing decisions and, eventually, stillbirth, and shows the parents’ difficulties as they had to face the world afterwards and deal with their relationship and broken hearts. The film incorporates animation to express emotions that are too dense for words. Between a simple dream of having a baby and a painful confrontation with reality, a film was born. It speaks of alienation, regret, anger, jealousy and infinite sadness, and a society unable to cope with these feelings. It also deals with the persistent search for the path that leads back to life. We were grateful for Benavot’s courageous and open approach while bringing this topic closer to us and our audience.
Food is central to our sense of identity and a rich source for the discovery of cultures and narratives. Following the international trend and increased demand for cooking and baking videos during the time of the pandemic, the Willy Brandt Center decided to produce a special series of culinary videos, mirroring the history and traditions of the region.
In an Easter Special from Jerusalem, Palestinian cultural manager and renowned cook Muna Khleifi introduced us to the specialty of Kaak and Ma’amoul, buttery Middle-Eastern cookies filled with dates and nuts that are popular throughout the Arab world. These Christian specialties are usually made together with family and friends, and symbolize the crown that was placed on Jesus during the crucifixion and the sponge that was squeezed over his face.
We also very much enjoyed visiting Abu Seir Patisserie in the Old City of Jerusalem, where we learned about different Ramadan sweets and witnessed the production of Jerusalem Truffles, as well as different variations of Quatyef, a Middle-Eastern dessert typical during the sacred month in Islamic culture.
The food and culture videos can be found on our YouTube channel. Try to produce these special treats at home, and discover fascinating stories about ingredients, spices and culinary traditions from Jerusalem and its surroundings!
On the night between the 18th and the 19th of April 2021, 14 youth movements met in a so-called hackathon in the Brain Embassy in Tel Aviv, to jointly search for solutions against violence against women.
Among those youth movements were long-standing partner organizations of the Willy Brandt Center in Jerusalem, such as Hashomer Hatzair, NOAL and Ajyal. Wiebke Warkentin, project manager of the educational project of the Willy Brandt Center, talked to Ahlam Kasim Ali, who participated in the Ajyal movement team.
An Interview with Ahlam Kasim Ali:
What is a hackathon and what did you do in the night of the 18th of April?
A hackathon is a nightlong session in which people work in teams on finding a solution for a problem or creating ideas together. The teams compete in finding the best solution or design, and at the end of the session a formal winner is announced.
The word „hackathon“ is a combination of „hack“ and „marathon“. „Hacking“ is usually used in the context of programming, but although Hackathons are familiar in relation to software projects, they are now also finding their way into the social sector.
This hackathon took place in the Brain Embassy in Tel Aviv – a young and amazing co-working space that was rented for the night of the event. Each of the 14 youth movements was allowed to bring a team of 8 members to the hackathon. Because of the Corona prevention measurements, we spread through the co-working space and worked in capsules in order to keep social distancing.
We began the night with speeches from prominent figures in the field of social change and our youth movements. The speeches were held on the main stage and live-streamed in every room of the Brain Embassy. The representatives of the youth movements held speeches to highlight the importance of the event, especially after a year of Corona in which we saw a dramatic surge in domestic violence and violence against women. Lili Ben Ami’s speech was especially important for all of us held: She talked about her sister Michal Selah, who was brutally murdered by her husband. When Lili spoke, everyone in the room held their breath. It was so moving to hear the story through her experience, even though we already knew about it from the news.
After these speeches, each of the 14 movements was assigned a mentor who helped them generate ideas, develop creative thinking and consider tools and methods to tackle violence against women in our society.
We – 8 participants from Ajyal and an accompanying mentor – had 10 hours and a lot of snacks, soft drinks and coffee in order to come up with the best idea to address the problem of violence against women. The journey could begin!
You mentioned the Michal Selah Forum. Can you tell us more about it?
The idea of this hackathon came up after an incredibly sad and tragic incident: Michal Selah, a woman in her 30s, was killed by her husband. Her sister, Lili Ben Ami, was shocked as she did not know about the ongoing violence Michal had already experienced previous the killing. In order to honor her sister, Lili Ben Ami founded the organization Forum Michal Selah, which aims to stop domestic violence and to promote tools to prevent violence.
During the Corona period, since last March, violence against women and domestic violence is on the rise. 72 women were killed between 2018 and 2020, 85% of them are members of the Arab community. In 2020, 25 women were murdered and the number of known cases of domestic violence increased dramatically. more than 60% of the murders were committed either by the partner or a family member of the victim.
We can also see these dynamics within the Arab society in Israel. Particularly during the times of lockdown due to Corona-measures, women were those who increasingly suffered from domestic violence.
What was Ajyal’s role in the hackathon?
The idea of the hackathon was to bring together youth movements from different parts of society, to create ideas and tools to tackle violence against women. Ajyal, as an Arab Movement, focused on the issue of violence against women in the Arab society.
First, we compiled the specific challenges and problems of the Arab society, and noted what structures and possibilities already exist. We talked to our mentor, an entrepreneur from Tel Aviv, about the problem of raising awareness among women, and the need not only to increase accesses and possibilities to get help, but also to raise the acceptance within the community to women’s search for help and an open discussion about the issue of violence against women and domestic violence in this society.
And what did you come up with?
Generally, in a hackathon there is a competition between teams, but of course this was not a tech hackathon but a social one. We all tried to find as many ideas, tools and concepts as possible, because as socialist youth movements, we all strive for a better world for everyone and this work is a daily work, not only during a 12-hour night shift.
However, we, as Ajyal, are very proud that we won second place!
Our concept was the following: Considering the difficulty in the Arab society to reach women who experienced violence, we decided to focus on the accessibility and the spread of information to raise awareness and tools for women to receive help. Ajyal’s idea was to create a poster that can be put up in any public place to which women usually go: Beauty salons, gyms, swimming pools, spas for women, etc. In this poster, we see an image of a woman, and at first glance it looks like a piece of art. But hidden inside the poster is a QR code, which women can scan and upload information on their phone on how to get help if they experience violence or witness violence in their surroundings. The target group is young women, aged between 15 and 25, in the Arab cities and villages.
Mabrouk on the second place! What are the next steps?
We are now looking for partners to implement our ideas, to print the posters, to gather the information that will appear with the QR code, to find volunteers to spread the posters among public places, and of course – to improve the situation of women in society. Not only here but all over the world!
Interview by Wiebke Warkentin.
In March 19-21, Hashomer Hatzair Germany & ROSBOT* organized a seminar with 40 activists and educators from Germany, Israel and Poland, in cooperation with the Willy Brandt Center in Jerusalem. The activity was followed by an open reception (Pessach-Empfang) hosted by Ken Berlin. This was the first in what Hashomer Hatzair Germany is hoping to become a new tradition for the Jewish movement in Germany, together with its partners and friends.
The seminar was planned to take place during the biggest Jewish holiday, Passover, to reflect the ideas of freedom and promote Jewish perspectives in the field of education work in Germany. The training was formed through the framework of peer-education, and based upon socialist and social-democratic values, with 3 working group topics: Jewish Women’s Movement, Judaism in the German Democratic Republic, and Secular Jewish Life Today.
In addition to the seminar, the seminar’s team organized an introduction workshop on intersectionality. Moreover, the participants were invited to join additional programs during their breaks and in the evening, such as the film screening of Masel Tov Cocktail, followed by a talk and Q&A session with the film director Arkadij Khaet.
In July 2021 a follow-up booklet for educators will be published in a special event that will take place near Berlin.
For more information, you are welcome to stay in touch with HHD through email@example.com
January 27th is the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Around the world, and at the Willy Brandt Center in Jerusalem, we commemorated the victims of the Holocaust and reaffirmed our commitment to stand against antisemitism, racism, and all other forms of intolerance. In addition, this year we wanted to give a special tribute to the Jewish painter Jesekiel David Kirszenbaum.
Kirszenbaum was born in Poland and studied at the Bauhaus in Weimar, where he received guidance from Klee and Kandinsky. Later he became a recognized artist in Berlin, but following the rise of Nazism he moved to Paris. There, he actively and successfully contributed to the European world of arts. Kirszenbaum was one of many artists whose memory and work was for the most part lost in the Holocaust; his studio in Paris was looted and most of his creations destroyed by the Nazis, and while he had survived, his wife and most of his relatives were murdered in concentration camps.
Thanks to supporters such as the Baroness Alix de Rothschild, and thanks to the commitment of his nephew Nathan Diament, a Holocaust survivor who was hidden during the Second World War by a Christian family in Belgium, some of Kirszenbaum’s work was saved and his memory is still alive among today’s generations.
Diament kindly invited us to his home in Tel Aviv, where we were allowed to film him as he told us about his life and his uncle’s legacy. Refugeehood, loss and migration dominated a large part of Kirszenbaum’s life, and are reflected in his art. The works he had created after the Holocaust are, to some extent, a memorial, but also an ascendance, a new start, without ever losing his identity, his personal history, which are mirrored in his creations.
The Willy Brandt Center is looking forward to an exhibition project planned for this spring, presenting a series of Kirszenbaum’s cartoons, which he published under the pseudonym Duvdivani in various German magazines.
Zum nächstmöglichen Zeitpunkt suchen wir mit Arbeitsort in Essen eine kaufmännische Fachkraft (M/W/D), (Vollzeit) als Sachbearbeiter*in im Rechnungswesen für den Jugendheimbau Essen e.V. sowie den Förderverein des Willy-Brandt Center Jerusalem (WBC).
Die Bereitschaft zu Dienstreisen nach Berlin und Jerusalem wird vorausgesetzt.
Bewerbungsschluss: 01.Juni 2021
Alle Informationen findet ihr hier
For many of us, the Corona virus and the governmental measures that have been taken, have led to radical changes and challenges on various political, social and economic levels, as well as on a deeply personal level. Things we took for granted are no longer permitted or socially accepted. Traveling, meeting, handshakes, hugging, and going to cultural or political events have been called off or restricted. In many countries, restrictions of movements and infringements of human rights were often justified and legitimized in the name of “social distancing”. In the context of these developments, Cordula Reimann published her book titled Das Alleinsein-Einsamkeit-Paradox: Persönliche und gesellschaftskritische Beobachtungen”. In it, Reiman takes a closer look ay different aspects of loneliness and the ways in which the current situation impacts individuals and societies. For us, that’s enough reason to come together and discuss some of these developments in greater detail.
Together with Cordula Reimann, Wiebke Warkentin from the Willy Brandt Center Jerusalem initiated a series of online exchanges on “lockdown, isolation and loneliness” in October-November 2020. The seminars focused on three thematic areas: loneliness as a personal and socio-political challenge and phenomena before and after Corona; political activism in times of lockdown and isolation; and the role of social media and its impact on loneliness.
This seminar series attracted a very diverse group of participants, coming from different walks of life and countries: They ranged from staff and volunteers from international and national non-governmental organizations involved in peacebuilding, development and human rights, thorugh academics and political activists, to interested and curious citizens.
Throughout all three seminars, two arguments were especially prominent : The idea of Covid-19 as a catalyst for social ill-developments, and Covid-19 as an opportunity for personal and social change.
Covid-19 as catalyst for social ill-developments
It seems safe to say that the Corona crisis exposed existing social inequalities, and further exacerbated them. Covid-19 worked as a catalyst for social divisions and conflicts in all of the countries and regions from which the participants came from: those who belonged to the least socially privileged, have suffered most – worldwide and in every country; those who were struggling financially, socially or mentally before the crisis, now suffer even more so; those who were lonely before the Corona crisis, now feel even lonelier – many are struggling with the new routine of home office, the reality of “social distancing”, and the 24/7 virtual world.
Early data suggests that loneliness, alongside serious mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety, has increased dramatically in this period. Other – equally worrisome – data suggests that domestic violence has increased as well. Irrespective of the size of living space or wider social-political contexts, it was clear well before the pandemic that if people or families are forced to spend all of their time at home together, there is a risk that things may escalate to physical violence. Some participants suggested that intra-family tensions and violence will continue to increase for as long as we live under these conditions.
Apart from domestic violence, we can witness in many countries – and particularly in Germany – an increased social and political polarization along the lines of two political camps; these are reflected in the public debate and (social and traditional) media: the anti-Corona demonstrators on the one hand, and the citizens dutifully supporting the governmental Corona measures on the other hand. Participants shared their feeling, that fear and anxiety are driving the current public debate around Corona in many European countries. While “conspiracy theories” are on the rise and in some countries more popular than others, all participants shared the worrying effects of the lockdown-restrictions on political activism in their countries. In some participants’ countries of origin, civil society has been struggling with shrinking spaces for political opposition and critical voices even before the Corona crisis. Some participants, especially from the Middle East and South Asia, described how these spaces have decreased even more, and political activism become even more dangerous during and after the first lockdown.
Covid-19 as an opportunity for personal and social change
Covid-19 functioned not only as a catalyst for social ill-developments. Some participants considered Covid-19 as an opportunity for personal and social change. Some people – particularly the more extrovert ones, who love socializing and mingling with others – may have not felt lonely before the epidemic, but are now confronted with a new social and emotional reality: No more sharing meals or celebrating with friends, no spontaneous trips to the cinema or weekend outings with the family. Most, if not all, social and business contacts have been maintained and cultivated virtually, and social media has become a loyal but demanding friend.
The seminar’s participants discussed how they were able to gain something new and positive from the Corona experience of isolation and loneliness, embracing the Corona crisis as a great opportunity to learn and grow as individuals and as a society. Many participants shared how they arranged virtual evening meals with family members, how lovers met for a virtual drink and friends for a daily online coffee catch-up. Participants stressed that creating these daily rituals and consciously nurturing friendships online helps people feel less alone and lonely. Some participants mentioned that these social distancing measures, home-office and lockdown led to increased hours on social media, and to strong emotions of annoyance, boredom and anxiety – but sometimes also invoked a critical self-reflection about life and work priorities.
Participants shared the ways in which they embraced the Corona crisis as a unique opportunity for personal and social change. They illustrated how they accepted and understood the Corona crisis as a welcomed – albeit imposed – break from the hectic hustle-and-bustle of their daily work and life routine. They recognized this time as a time for self-reflection and self-care, spending more quality time with their family members, learning new skills or new things about themselves. A handful of participants described how they dealt resiliently and constructively – and often with a great sense of humor – with being alone: Practicing mindfulness rituals and self-care, nurturing their social contacts online and using social media mindfully.
Although these seminars took place during the relatively-early days of the pandemic, it will be interesting to see how we – as a society – have further developed our inner capacities of resilience and defiance during the Corona crisis. This resilience might also foreshadow our ability to destigmatize loneliness and understand it as a complex, personal and social phenomena that affects all of us in one way or the other.
“We are in the same storm, but not in the same boat”’?
The seminar highlighted the differences and similarities in handling the Corona crisis, and raised questions regarding isolation, loneliness and lockdown. It also showed that our own privileges, solidarity and empathy have a great impact on how we experience the ongoing Corona crisis and its aftermath. Metaphorically speaking, being aware of one’s own privilege and sharing one’s own vulnerability will not change the direction and intensity of the storm, but it may offer an opportunity to build a bigger and safer boat – or to stay on land together.
(Dr. Cordula Reimann is a political scientist and conflict and peace researcher, as well as a facilitator, coach, trainer, activist and author [see www.corechange.ch and www.corechange-coaching.ch]. She has recently published her book about loneliness, titled “Das Alleinsein-Einsamkeit-Paradox”. This book brings interviews with over 150 people from around the world, alongside autobiographical reflections and underpinning international and interdisciplinary research. The book raises socio-critical and philosophical questions on how the issue of loneliness is currently being dealt with, and whose interests are thereby served.)
In an online workshop, we will create a safe space for professional staff of civil society organizations, volunteers, peacebuilding and human rights activists to discuss coping mechanisms and strategies on how to deal in these times of uncertainties, isolation and separation. Those challenges and implications include our professional and political work but also the mental health, well-being and safety of our staff and partners.
„Shrinking spaces for civil society in times of Corona“
Wednesday, February 3rd, 18:00 – 19:30 hours CET | 19:00 – 20:30 hours Palestine/Israel
„How to deal with uncertainty & isolation? Implications for political activism“
Wednesday, February 24th, 16:00 – 18:00 hours CET | 17:00 – 19:00 hours Palestine/Israel
Please register for the sessions via this form https://forms.gle/wHohEcxkag9Kzyz39. We are happy to have you for both the seminar and the workshop on zoom. You can also participate in one of the events as they will be independent of each other. If you have any questions, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The political ideology of “Jewish diasporism”, as an intellectual tradition and a contemporary social movement, takes the form of a reclamation of diasporic cultural heritage, against the backdrop of Zionism’s “negation of exile” and the systematic erosion of diasporic Jewish cultures through the homogenization of Jewish national identity in Israel. One case of contemporary diasporism is the post-war Yiddish revival movement, which sought to revitalize secular Yiddish culture after the Holocaust and the assimilation of Ashkenazi Jews in North America and Israel. Especially today, Yiddish language, music and culture is witnessing a revival among younger generations of the diaspora, which has been characterized as “postvernacular” – a linguistic mode in which the secondary, symbolic meaning of a language is privileged over its primary usage as a vernacular language (Shandler, 2013). In this mode, art, poetry, instrumental music and song acquire a particular importance to express diasporic Jewish cultural identity. Moreover, the Yiddish revival movement should be considered in the larger context of the complex political dynamics of the Jewish diaspora: While the Yiddish culture movement is not explicitly driven by an opposition to Zionism, Yiddish language and culture has often taken on the function of the alter-ego to Zionist Jewish identity and the linguistic hegemony of modern Hebrew.
In her lecture, Isabel Frey investigated the links between Jewish diasporism and the contemporary Yiddish culture movement, and gave an overview of the academic debate over Jewish diasporism, as well as the use of the term in Jewish media and in social movements. She then examined the history of the Yiddish language and music revival, mapped contemporary “Yiddishland“, and ended with some open questions concerning the relationship between Israel and the diaspora, as well as the past and the future of Yiddish in Israel.
Isabel Frey is a PhD candidate in the structured doctoral program “Music matters”, and a Yiddish singer and cultural activist. She studied social sciences at Amsterdam University College and Medical Anthropology and Sociology at the University of Amsterdam. After returning to her hometown of Vienna, she began performing Yiddish revolutionary songs both in concerts and at political protests, continuing the tradition of Jewish activism for social justice.
Frey regularly writes essays on issues of Jewish identity and Yiddish music. In her research project, she combines her passion for Yiddish music with her background in new-materialist and material-semiotic theory and methodology.
The Willy Brandt Center is looking forward to welcome Isabel Frey for a series of concerts of Revolutionary Yiddish Music in 2021.