UNESCO International Jazz Day Celebration Jerusalem – April 27-30, 2019

In 2011, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) officially designated April 30th as International Jazz Day – a worldwide initiative aimed at celebrating the art form of jazz for its ability to promote peace, freedom, dialogue among cultures, diversity and respect for human rights, and to reinforce the role of youth in enacting social change.

For this year’s International Jazz Day, the Willy Brandt Center Jerusalem cooperated with the Austrian Cultural Forum Tel Aviv, the Austrian Hospice, the Swiss Representative Office, the Italian Consulate General and the UNESCO National Office for Palestine.

We started the celebrations with a musical overture at the Wonder Cabinet in Bethlehem, during which the audience felt the music reviving the halls of an old furniture factory and turning the industrial space into a place for art and creative encounters.

Two days later, the event was followed by a concert at the Austrian Hospice in Jerusalem’s Old City, filling the Imperial Salon and the corridors of the house with hundreds of music lovers. There, for the first time, the ensemble of Austrian, Italian, Swiss and Palestinian musicians was accompanied by young talents from Gaza.

On April 30th, the Municipality of Ramallah hosted the official concert for Palestine, which was part of this global initiative with more than 200 countries from all continents. A look at the audience gathered in front of the big, open air stage of Ramallah Municipality, charmingly demonstrated how jazz unites people of all ages and nations.

We would like to thank all of our amazing artists for turning each concert into a truly special musical experience: Mohammad Albalawi, Samir Alborno, Heidi Caviezel, Lukas Leitner, Mohammad Nasrallah, Rahaf Shamaly, Mohammad Shoman, Said Srour, Luca Velotti, Mohammad Qutati, Luca Velotti, and the Amwaj Children Choir.

Altogether, more than 1000 guests attended this year’s International Jazz Day performances, and the Willy Brandt Center Jerusalem is already looking forward to new music adventures that will unite communities, schools, artists, academics and jazz enthusiasts from all over the world to celebrate and enjoy jazz music together.

Juso-Leadership visit @ WBC – April 16-17, 2019

The Chairperson and international Secretary of Jusos, Kevin Kühnert and International Secretary Leo von Galen visited the region on the 16th and 17th of April in order to discuss the political cooperation of the Willy Brandt Center Jerusalem. The leaders of our partner organisations Young Fatah, Young Labour and Young Meretz stressed during the passionate talks the importance and relevance of the cooperation. Especially in the aftermath of the national elections in Israel and the dramatic loss of the Israeli left, solidarity between young progressive actors who seek a better future and a two-state solution is more important than ever. In our upcoming projects and delegations this summer, we hope to promote these talks and our work for strengthening the political and social left in Israel, Palestine and Germany.

Click here to watch Kevin Kühnert and project coordinator Judith Höffkes discuss the Willy Brandt Center Jerusalem.

“The Passenger” Panel @ WBC – April 8, 2019

The Willy Brandt Center was honoured to welcome Ella Milch-Sheriff and David Pountney, both international opera stars, for a panel featuring Mieczysław Weinberg’s composition “The Passenger” on April 8th, 2019.

Composer Ella Milch-Sheriff is one of Israel’s most performed composers in recent years. Several of her creations, such as “And the Rat Laughed”, „The Banality of Love” and „Baruch’s Silence“, engage with stories from the holocaust and touch on the history of her own family.

Mieczyslaw Weinberg, then a young Jewish composer, fled the advancing German troops in 1939 and crossed the border into the Soviet Union, where he stayed and worked tirelessly until the end of his life.

British-Polish theatre and opera director and librettist David Pountney is known for his productions of rarely performed operas, and his new productions of classic works. In 2010 he staged the premiere of Mieczyslaw Weinberg’s opera “The Passenger”, which deals with guilt and its repression after the Holocaust, and tells the story of women prisoners transported to Auschwitz from all over the world. Based on a novel by Zofia Posmysz, a Polish Auschwitz survivor, Weinberg’s masterpiece had been concealed for more than 40 years and became “somehow itself a real survivor”, as noted by David Pountney. Originally produced by the Bregenz Festival, the highly successful production led to the rediscovery of its composer, Weinberg, and was later staged at the opera houses of Warsaw, London, Houston, New York, Miami, Chicago. In April of this year the production has travelled also to Israel, where it was presented at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center.

The panel discussion invoked intricate questions such as how to remain human and humane in a place that has lost all human form, and what role do the arts play when it comes to the murderous oppression of the powerless by the powerful.

Even the nightmare of Auschwitz is a human story, explained David Puntney. “The Passenger” presents young women, victim and perpetrator; one at each side of the fence. “it’s the story about the narrow difference about a human being that is doing the right thing and a human being that is doing a wrong thing,“ continued Pountney, as „the role of art is to look at the most difficult subjects”.

During the discussion, when the question arose whether the holocaust should be represented in artistic performances, both artists agreed that  music has the means to express what perhaps cannot be expressed in any other way; not only does it have the power to touch its audience and trigger a deeper compassion and understanding, it also enables us to heal open wounds.

International Women’s Day 2019

To mark the International Women’s Day on March 8th, the Willy Brandt Center organized a panel discussion on women’s status in the arts. The guests of the panel were long-time manager of the Barenboim Said Foundation in Ramallah, Muna Khleifi, art historian and director of the Negev Museum of Art, Dalia Manor, and co-founder of the Barbur Gallery in Jerusalem, Masha Zusman.

Each panel member spoke of her background and presented her work and experience in the field of art. The panel encompassed today’s challenges, opportunities, creative concepts and visions for the future.

One of the problems that were discussed is the lack of documentation and representation of female art creation, which leads to a lack of knowledge about great women artists over the centuries. Another issue that was mentioned is the market value of male artists, which is still higher than that of female artists.

All participants agreed that the situation has improved over the last decades and that the number of women working in the arts has risen. Nevertheless, to a large extent women are still excluded from management, and many major decisions are left to men.

The large attending audience engaged in a lively discussion, offering their experiences from other fields and different countries.

The conclusion was that there is still a long way to go to reach equality. Nevertheless, the panel ended with the optimistic encouragement of women to promote each other and to act in solidarity in order to overcome social limitations and obstacles.

 

Illustration: WBC – International women’s day postcard, designed for WBC by Dorit Bialer (2019)

Concert by the Tel Aviv Wind Quintet – March 29, 2019

The Willy Brandt Center team was delighted to welcome for the first time the internationally celebrated Tel Aviv Wind Quintet. Its members, Roy Amotz (flute), Yigal Kaminka (oboe), Itamar Leshem (horn), Nadav Cohen (bassoon) and Danny Erdman (clarinet), prepared a program composed of classics and masterpieces of the 20th century. Music lovers from the whole region gathered to hear the popular ensemble and filled our center’s hall.

The Tel Aviv Wind Quintet was founded in 2009 by young Israeli musicians seeking to bring the wonderful woodwind repertoire, as well as commissioned works, to wider audiences. Today, the quintet performs at the most distinguished concert halls all around Israel, Europe and Asia. What made the evening at the Willy Brandt Center so special was the intimate and cosy ambiance, creating an atmosphere of “chamber music” in every sense. The artists and audience soon found themselves interacting with each other, discussing the meaning behind the performed musical pieces, and talking about composers and instruments. The personal and lively encounter continued long after the concert, as the audience and musicians shared individual concert experiences and philosophised about music.

We are looking forward to the ensemble’s return to our center in the near future, and to further cooperate on workshop and concert projects with these wonderful musicians and young Israeli and Palestinian talents.

WBC Frauensdelegation – Bericht

Anläßlich der internationalen Frauentags veröffentlichen wir exemplarisch für unsere Arbeit an der Bildung eines Women Networks in Jerusalem einen Bericht unserer Projektleiterin Judith Höffkes über ihre Erfahrungen auf unserer aktuellen Frauendelegation.

„Beschreibt ein typisches Frauenleben in Eurer Gesellschaft. Gebt ihr einen Namen. Wie behütet wächst sie als Kind auf? Was wird in ihre Schulbildung investiert? Wird sie studieren, vielleicht sogar im Ausland? Wie gestaltet sich ihr Privatleben, wäre Scheidung im Ernstfall eine Möglichkeit?“

Diese Fragestellung war Inhalt eines Workshops, den wir am Ende unserer diesjährigen Frauendelegation organisiert haben. Auf Einladung der Jusos sind wir zum Weltfrauentag von Amman und Tel Aviv aus nach Berlin geflogen, um Frauen aus Israel, Palästina und Deutschland zu vernetzen, um uns gegenseitig kennenzulernen und auszutauschen und die Frage zu stellen: Was können wir für einander tun, als Frauen, im Jahr 2019 in einer Region, in der die Räume für Dialog und Austausch spürbar schrumpfen.

Unsere palästinensischen Partnerinnen haben in jenem Workshop das Leben der fiktiven Marjam beschrieben. Die Einschränkungen und Abhängigkeiten von männlichen Stukturen im Leben dieser palästinensischen Frau rüttelte uns alle wach, auch, weil diese Einschränkungen so krass im Widerspruch standen zu den selbstbewussten und gut ausgebildeten Frauen, die wir während der Delegation kennenlernen durften. Für wenige Stunden waren die Besatzung, das israelische Nationalstaatsgesetz, die Checkpoints, der Militärdienst verschwunden aus unserer Runde und wir waren einfach eine internationale Gruppe von jungen Frauen, die endlich ein gleichberechtigtes Leben führen wollen und damit auf keinen Fall mehr warten können.

Hier eine andere Frage, die ganz nüchtern und fast ein wenig schüchtern gestellt wurde, als die Teilnehmerinnen sich und ihre politischen Ideale vorstellen sollten und bei den israelischen Frauen mehrmals der Begriff Zionismus fiel: „Könnt ihr mir sagen, was Zionismus für euch bedeutet? Als Palästinenserin verbinde ich damit Gefahr und Vertreibung und Rassismus. Aber das könnt ihr ja nicht meinen, also sagt mir, was ist dieser Zionismus?“ Es entspann sich ein ausführliches Gespräch über Familiengeschichte, Sehnsucht nach Heimat und Sicherheit auf beiden Seiten und die Erkenntnis, dass selbst unter unseren linken israelischen Partnerinnen eine eindeutige Definition schwer zu finden ist. Ich als Moderatorin konnte gebannt zuhören und mir innerlich notieren, dass wir im WBC aus dieser Fragestellung einen Workshop für kommende Delegationen basten sollten.

Als Projektkoordinatorin im WBC habe ich in den vergangenen 3 Jahren zahlreiche Delegationen organisiert und geleitet, ich habe gelernt den Widerspruch auszuhalten, das die politische Situation in der Region angespannter und hoffnungsloser wird und gleichzeitig unsere AktivistInnen neugierig und offen und kompetent sind und es nicht abwarten können, mit der anderen Seite die Komplexität der Lage zu diskutieren. Ich habe angefangen, ehrlich stolz auf unser Projekt und unsere Partner zu sein und mich daran gewöhnt, dass Öffentlicheitsarbeit unseren Partnern und unseren Projekten nur zu schnell schaden kann. Die vergangenen 3 Jahre im WBC haben mich erfahren und pragmatisch werden lassen. Die Delegation unseres Frauennetzwerks hat es trotzdem geschafft, mich neu für unsere Arbeit zu begeistern und zu motivieren und sie hat mich daran erinnert, dass die besondere Kraft des WBCs in unseren gemeinsamen politischen Idealen liegt. So lange eine Woche Austausch und politisches Programm zu der Aussage „Ich sehe deine Lebensrealität und meinen Anteil daran. Bitte lass und Partner sein und schauen, was wir tun können“ führen, so lange gibt es hier noch Hoffnung.

 

 

„Octaves of Light“ – Performances by the Ensemble Wiener Collage in Celebration of Christmas and Hanukkah – December 17, 2018

The Willy Brandt Center was honored to host the Ensemble Wiener Collage, a chamber orchestra formation residing at the Arnold Schönberg Center in Vienna.

The ensemble, which is internationally celebrated for its contemporary music interpretations, presented two performances as an exciting alternative to the classical concerts of the Christmas season, playing a beautiful program for an open minded audience in a scenic setting by Australian director Tania Golden.
Christmas and Hanukkah are religious winter festivals that share many similarities. The musicians took their audience on a journey lead by light, from darkness and into joy.

When choosing composers for this evening, the Ensemble looked for young, ambitious Israeli and European artists to support their work. Thus, Arnold Schönberg’s „Christmas Music“, which consists of bits and pieces of famous Christmas carols, was combined with Klezmer melodies and creations by Benjy Fox Rosen, Dietmar Hellmich, Karl Kohn, Alexander Kukelka, Leon Pollak, Ella Milch-Sherif, Alexander Stankovski and Jaime Wolfson.

The Willy Brandt Center was delighted to welcome the prominent Israeli composer Ella Milch-Sherif, who attended the performance of her latest work, composed of two songs based on Yiddish poems written by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman, which were expressively interpreted by mezzo soprano Patricia Nolz.

The Ensemble Wiener Collage includes members of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra who are dedicated to contemporary music, together with outstanding independent musicians from the contemporary music scene. Guest conductors have included Pierre Boulez, Friedrich Cherha and Erich Urbanner. In Jerusalem, the ensemble played under the baton of its founder René Staar.

Our thanks go to Wien Kultur, the Austrian Federal Chancellery and to the Austrian Cultural Forum in Tel Aviv, for facilitating the artists’ journey to Jerusalem and implementing these special performances at our center.

WBC at the Jusos Federal Congress (Bundeskongress) – November 30 – December 2, 2018

From Judith Höffkes‘ speech at the Jusos Federal Congress:

When I stood on this stage two years ago, at the Congress in Dresden 2016, I looked to the past and focused my speech on the proud history of our project in its 20th anniversary. However, in the last two years of my work, I have tried to shape the Willy Brandt Center for the future.

In doing so, I came to both negative and positive conclusions: On the one hand, the political situation in Israel and Palestine often seems even worse than we could imagine here in Germany. On the other hand, we do indeed have partners and activists at the Willy Brandt Center who represent our values of double solidarity and who, due to our work, meet with the other side of the conflict and listen to their narratives.

Our partners are qualified and motivated, and want to remain in their countries to fight for a peaceful solution for the region. In this regard, the Willy Brandt Center is the only project that offers a place for young progressive activists from both sides. We should indeed be proud of that.

It is a tough challenge nowadays for young Palestinians to act in cooperation with Israelis and to be engaged in a dialogue with the other side of the conflict. Therefore, I am especially happy to announce a new generation of young Fatah activists in our political team. This success is a sign of hope for the future and is a result of our persistence and the sustainable approach of our partnership.

Furthermore, all of our partner organizations are currently engaged in intense processes aimed at shaping the political content for the upcoming year at the Willy Brandt Center. This dedication should motivate us to continue with energy and joy our engagement to double solidarity with young progressive activists.

„Promise Me a Land“: Exhibition and book presentation with Clement Chapillon – October 11, 2018

„Promise Me a Land“ is a project by French Photographer Clement Chapillon which focuses on the bond between people and their land, with the aim to explore the imprint that this land has left on its inhabitants’ identity, in a manner far from traditional clichés.
The project was presented in an exhibition at the Willy Brandt Center in cooperation with the Institut français de Jérusalem Romain Gary, from the 11th of October to the 18th.
Clement Chapillon visited Israel and Palestine in different seasons and experimented with the variation of landscapes, colors, and landforms. He soon felt the need to include in his work the voices of the people he had met. He ventured out to investigate the various dimensions of the seemingly unalterable relationships and ties between people and their land: what marks has the land imprinted on their identity? What hopes, fantasies, and promises remain? To explore this attachment between the land and its inhabitants, he interviewed and photographed people in cities, villages, settlements and kibbutzim. They told him about their lives and their dreams upon this land. A humane, sensitive picture emerged, forming a photographic narrative that Chapillon wishes to convey; its images are immersed in an artistic experience and bring to new light the roots of Israel and Palestine.
The Willy Brandt Center was proud to be given the opportunity to present Clement Chapillon’s project for the first time in the region which is portrayed in his work.
Previous to the project’s presentation at our center, it was published in media and newspapers (such as Die Zeit, Le monde, Arte, L’OBS), exhibited in several festivals and has won the Leica Prize 2017 which allowed Chapillon to present a solo show at the Leica Galery in Paris in April 2018.
Earlier this year, Clement Chapillon published a book titled “Promise Me a Land“, which is a unique patchwork of words, portraits and landscapes. This deeply personal testimony reflects the Israeli-Palestinian mosaic from a profoundly humane perspective. The book, which was published by the German Kehrer Verlag, was presented at the Institut français de Jérusalem followed by a public talk with Clement Chapillon and moderated by Jean-Marc Liling. The artist shared with his audience his experiences and encounters during the developing of the project.

Report: SJD – Die Falken Women Delegation @ WBC Annual Conference

Feminism is for everybody!

The women’s delegation of the Socialist Youth of Germany – The Falcons – stayed in Israel and Palestine from the 12th to the 19th of October 2018. We have agreed on an all-female delegation, focusing on exchange meetings with our sister youth movements, because we find it extremely important to debate matters of feminism and empowerment within our respective organisations. Hence, we were highly appreciative of the inspiring workshops that took place in cooperation with our partners.

During the first two days of our trip, we participated in the annual conference of the WBC, held under the Jerusalem Open Forum – Past and Future Reflection and Creation. There, we met with the leading group within the educational cooperation, which had prepared a wonderful workshop concerning peace education. In this workshop we had the opportunity to discuss and learn about the movements involved, as well the project itself. We also had a very enjoyable and informative experience while playing the peace education games that the leading group had developed. Following the workshop, we attended a presentation by Prof Ali Qleibo on “The History of the Abu Tor Neighbourhood and the House of the Willy Brandt Center”. Since the neighbourhood is quite old-aged, many personal stories are intertwined with its history. The first day found its perfect ending with plenty of delicious food, great wine, and lovely music played by the UNESCO Jazz Journeys.

On the conference’s second day, we participated in a workshop held by Dr. Omar Yousef, on Jerusalem’s urban development and its future. The workshop was exceedingly insightful, as a number of local residents took part in the debate and pointed out some rather interesting aspects that otherwise we probably would not have heard of. After an excellent lunch, we were delighted to join Yoni Mizrachi in a beautiful tour through Hinnom Valley, ending at a spot from which we could enjoy a lovely view over East Jerusalem.

After the conference, which we were glad to have attended, we spent a few very exciting and informative days with our partner organisations from the Middle East.

Friendship!