WBC -Annual Report 2019

Our Annual Report 2019 is here. We review the projects of the past year and look ahead – despite the uncertainty of these days. Even before the Corona crisis, we decided from now on for ecological reasons to publish our Annual Report electronically.There will still be print versions in a smaller edition, available on demand or when we are able to meet again at public events at our information desks.

We would like to thank all of you who have taken part in our activities.
We are especially thankful for your project funding and donations, and your ongoing cooperation as members of our support association “Förderverein Willy Brandt Zentrum e.V”.

WBC-Annual Report 2019 (read as pdf)


WBC – Art Hugs

In time of Quarantine artists from near and far raise our spirits and unite for a series of special video contributions titled “Art Hug“

We were looking forward to a number of events this spring. Everyone at the center has been excited and busy with preparations., and our partners and artists where getting ready for their part in all the planned panels, workshops, poetry readings, movie screenings, concerts and dance events. At some point this March, we understood that things will not go as planned. We realized that we would have to stay home, slow down and keep physical distance from the world around us, at least for a little while. But we all felt the strong need to stay connected.

Artists deal with challenging situations through art and creation. We have therefore invited artists from near and far to raise our spirits and unite for a series of special video contributions titled “Art Hug”. As our partners from the Hancock Institute in Washington reminded us in their Art Hug message, „artists play a very important role in our health as people and as society. Those who make art help us remember what unites us as human beings“. The artists responded immediately. So far, we have received video contributions from Berlin, Bregenz, Gaza, Kansas City, Jerusalem, Ramallah, Rom, Salzburg, Tel Aviv and Washington, with participants from Asia, Europe, the Middle East and the United States.

Our followers and our team have been moved and inspired by all the wonderful new poems, compositions and performances that have reached us and keep reaching us still. The Willy Brandt Center community stays active. We can’t wait to meet you all again in person, but until then – we will keep creating and enjoying cultural events together. We remain united and strengthen and comfort each other through the arts, even though we are far from each other.

We invite you to become our guest online and to discover the Art Hug creations of our artists on Facebook:




Home Office, Video Calls and Empty Streets: Working in Jerusalem in Times of Corona

Corona regulations led to the closing of the Willy Brandt Center on March 22nd, which dramatically effects the way of working and the continuation of various projects.

The Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority reacted in a prompt and strict manner to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic: tourists had to leave the country, all incoming travelers must self-quarantine for 14-day, and businesses have been reduced to the essential minimum. Curfews were implemented first in the West Bank, then in Israel, limiting the freedom of movement to a maximum of 100 meters from the place of residence. These regulations also led to the closing of the Willy Brandt Center on March 22nd, which dramatically effects the way of working and the continuation of various projects. Home Office, Zoom meetings and phone calls are the new working routing for our entire staff. Planned projects and activities are postponed or had to be cancelled. Visitor groups and delegations were required to cancel their trip plans.

At first, the regulations were not taken too seriously by many Israelis, especially in the Ultra-Orthodox community, and life in Palestinian East-Jerusalem continued almost as usual. But security forces became stricter at the beginning of April: hundreds were fined for ignoring the curfew, checkpoints were set up throughout the city to control traffic and public, and places of worship were closed down. During the week of Easter and Passover, this conduct had harsh effects on common traditions and ceremonies. Worshippers of both religions were asked to stay at home and celebrate alone. For the first time in history, the Church of Holy Sepulcher was closed and no public services took place in the Holy Week. Passover Seders were celebrated separately, and people used Zoom and other digital tools to stay connected with one another. How this will affect the Ramadan (starting on April 23rd) and its traditions, like the daily Iftars, is not clear yet.

Concert with the Tel Aviv Quintet and Pianist Alon Goldstein

The WBC hosted the Tel Aviv Quintet and Pianist Alon Goldstein at the Austrian Hospice in the old city of Jerusalem

On Thursday, February 13th 2020, the Willy Brandt Center Jerusalem hosted in cooperation with the Austrian Hospice a performance by the celebrated Tel Aviv Wind Quintet, together with world renowned pianist Alon Goldstein from New York.

The concert took place at the heart of Jerusalem’s Old City, in the Austrian Hospice’s Imperial Salon, which was filled up to its last seat. The program featured pieces by Ludwig van Beethoven, marking the 250th anniversary of his birthday, as well as works by Barber, Bernstein and Françaix. A theatrical performance of Luciano Berio’s „Opus Number Zoo“ was also included, and the socio-critical poems by Rhoda Levine, upon which this contemporary composition is based, were performed in Hebrew. As the audience in Jerusalem’s Old City included Israelis and Arabs, as well as a number of international guests, we decided to offer in addition a written English translation and an Arabic version that was created especially for the occasion by the Willy Brandt Center team member Rima Shahin, and was very much welcomed by our Arabic-speaking audience.

Before each piece, one of the artists briefly explained the historical and musical background of the composition. Unfortunately, Oboe player Yigal Kaminka fell ill a few days prior to the concert, but was replaced on short notice by the wonderful principal oboist of the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra, Dudu Carmel, who joined the other members of The Tel Aviv Wind Quintet: Roy Amotz (flute), Danny Erdman (clarinet), Itamar Leshem (horn) and Nadav Cohen (bassoon).

We are looking forward to continuing our collaboration with the Tel Aviv Wind Quintet, and to reach out together to our young audience and present another „out of the box“ classical music program in the near future: a theatrical version of Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf”, especially arranged and staged for the members of the quintet.


“My ReWriting”: Artistic Encounters between Germany and Israel

Exchange programm with Young Artists from Jerusalem & Nuremberg, supported by the EUROPEANS FOR PEACE program of the Foundation EVZ. 

Last autumn, the Willy Brandt Center initiated a gathering of 15 young artists in Jerusalem. Eight of the artists came from Germany, the other seven from Israel. From February 25th to March 2nd 2020, the project was followed up in Nuremberg, where the same young people of different nationalities and different artistic backgrounds met and continued their joint artistic journey.

Nuremberg, February 25-March 2, 2020

Nuremberg and Jerusalem – two cities whose historical contexts reveal unique contrasts, parallels and tragic connections. Therefore, the program featured an intense engagement with Nuremberg’s history, but also offered a vivid exchange of today’s lively art scene. The project’s participants from Germany offered their Israeli colleagues guided tours through the Old City of Nuremberg. The group visited museums, the former Nazi Party Rally Grounds (the Reichsparteitagsgelände), and Nuremberg’s university and Academy of Fine Arts. The program also included reflections, encounters and workshops with different artists, aimed to explore contemporary forms of expression and creative new techniques for intercultural dialogues. The participants’ journey and work process were once again accompanied and documented by a team of the National German Broadcasting Station ZDF.

On March 1st, the young artists presented their results in a public exhibition under the direction of stage director Annette Lubosch, writer Sascha Fersch, and set designer Maris Pfeiffer, at the Kunstverein Kohlenhof – a gallery at the center of Nuremberg. We were delighted to welcome an impressive number of visitors, all curious and eager to discover the visual, acoustic and musical creations that artistically mirrored the connections between Nuremberg and Jerusalem. This upcoming autumn, a selection of artworks from the exhibition will be presented at our center as part of this year’s Jerusalem Open Forum, under the title “Jerusalem and Europe”.

Jerusalem, November 11-19, 2019

Jerusalem and Nuremberg – both cities with many unique spaces, buildings with historical importance, and monuments of remembrance. At some periods throughout history their names have been changed, carrying different meanings, functions and narratives.

Sometimes, the official narrative of a city coincides with our own story, but at other times they contradict each other. Either way, we are always confronted with a history that has already been written by others, who have decided for us what is important and what is not. With this in mind, the project “My Re-Writing” brings together eight young artists of different disciplines from Israel and eight such artists from Germany, with the aim to creatively re-write history for the future.

The artists from Nuremberg and Israel met for the first time in Jerusalem, where they spent a week together, discovering the city and each other’s art, under the direction of performer and theatre director Annette Lubosch and writer Sascha Fersch.

The program included tours through Jerusalem’s Old City, a visit to Yad Vashem and to the Musrara Art School. During the week, the artists also met with coaches and speakers from different disciplines, and reflected together on their experiences, feelings and different opinions.

Among our guests were Mrs. Dina Shefet from the Testimonies Program of Yad Vashem, historian Dr. Shalmi Balmor, and Dr. Rüdiger Hillgärtner – a professor of literature that spends his time between Germany and Israel. They shared their personal experiences regarding the development, challenges and opportunities for German-Israel relations over the last decades.

We were honored to welcome Prof. Bashir Bashir, who presented the book “Holocaust and Nakba”, in which leading Arab and Jewish intellectuals examine how and why the Holocaust and the Nakba are interlinked, while maintaining the fundamental differences between them. The book offers a new political, historical and moral grammar, which enables a joint Arab-Jewish dwelling and supports reconciliation in Israel/Palestine. We also reflected on the role that artists play in this process of rapprochement.

Nathan Diament, a Holocaust survivor from Brussels, shared his touching personal story of survival thanks to a Christian family that hid him and protected him. He also offered insights into the work of the Committee of the Righteous among the Nations. We were excited to discover the art and gripping life story of the great uncle of Nathan Diament, the renowned Bauhaus artist J. D. Kirszenbaum. This finding led to discussions about the role of artists and the freedom of expression in times of oppression.
On the last day, the participants presented their art works at the center to a group of art management students from the Hebrew University. The presentation was a great first landmark for the ongoing artistic journey which we have embarked on, and which we are looking forward to continue next March in Nuremberg.


The project “My Re-Writing” is a collaboration of the Willy Brandt Center and Musrara School of Art, in cooperation with the Center for International Encounters Jerusalem, ForumZFD, Academy of Fine Arts Nuremberg and the Friedrich-Alexander-University Nuremberg supported by the EUROPEANS FOR PEACE program of the Foundation EVZ. The participants were accompanied by a film team of the ZDF, whose report was presented in the TV magazine “Heute Plus”.


“Only Those Who Remember Grow”: Youth Movements from Israel and Germany Sign a Common Paper Concerning their Partnership

The Charter-signing between ha-No’ar ha-Oved ve-ha-Lomed and Socialist Youth of Germany – Falcons (SJD-Die Falken)  at the Willy Brandt Center Jerusalem


In February 2020, a long and strenuous process undergone by ha-No’ar ha-Oved ve-ha-Lomed and SJD – Die Falken had come to a preliminary summit: The two sister-organizations from Israel and Germany, which have been working together since the 1980’s, signed a Charter regarding their common work and co-operation. The ceremony took place at the Willy Brandt Center in Jerusalem and was framed by a festive atmosphere.

SJD–Die Falken has several international partnerships with Youth Movements in Israel and Palestine. A delegation of SJD – Die Falken came to the Middle-East at the end of February to meet their four regional partner organizations. The delegation of the federal board had also taken the chance to meet with representatives from all youth movements, exchange about the current situation in Israel and Palestine, and plan common activities in the future. Alma Kleen and Jana Herrmann, the two chairwomen of SJD who had accompanied the Charter-process from its beginning, were part of the delegation.

The ceremony began with opening words by Wiebke Warkentin, the new coordinator of the educational cooperation under the roof of the WBC. Then Tal Tunik from ha-No’ar ha-Oved ve-ha-Lomed proceeded to describe the different phases of the drafting process, which initiated in 2015.

These talks were followed by a musical piece – Yinam Leef’s “Yizkor”, performed by the flutist Hagar Shahal. The incorporation of a traditional instrument in this modern piece highlighted the connection of these youth organizations, who have existed for 120 years, to the present, as an important part of the social life of young people today.

Jana Herrmann took this chance to emphasize the important work of Jewish and German youth organizations, and summarized that which especially connects SJD and NOAL: “The socialist idea of changing society through education – an education that not only makes the world a better place, but which empowers young people to shape politics and the world in which they live on their own terms”.

The secretary general of ha-No’ar ha-Oved ve-ha-Lomed, Pesach Hausfater, held a very impressive and emotional speech. He portrayed his family’s history through the Holocaust, and described in a very personal manner what it means to him to cooperate with a German organization 75 years after the Holocaust had ended. In accordance, the Charter underlines that the young generation in Germany “inevitably carries the historical responsibility for the implications of the Holocaust”.

Pesach Hausfater, Alma Kleen, Jana Herrmann and Maya Geva signed the Charter and afterwards, as a symbolic act, planted together an olive tree in the garden of the WBC; as Simon Halkin’s poem, quoted in the Charter, notes: “Only those who remember grow”.



The third round of elections in Israel for the 23rd Israeli Knesset

Disastrous Results for Left- List in Israel’s Third Round of Election

At first, the results of the third round of elections in Israel seemed like another standoff between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud party, 29,46%, 36 seats) and his opponent Benjamin Gantz (Blue and White party, 26,59%, 33 seats). Initially, neither the right nor the center-left block had a majority of 61 or more members of parliament. The Israeli Labor Party (“Avoda”) and Meretz ran, on a joint list for the first time in history, together with Orli Levi-Abekasis‘ Gesher party. The list titled “Labor-Gesher-Meretz” received only 5,83% of the votes, meaning 7 out of 120 seats; this result marks four seats less than both parties obtained together following the previous elections. Thus, the expected effect of gaining more votes on a united list had failed. This is by far the worst result the Israeli political left has ever achieved. Apart from the Likud, only one party managed to gain more seats: The Joint Arab List mobilized not only Palestinians living in Israel, but also left-wing Jewish Israelis seeking for a strong left alternative, resulting with 15 seats.

Turnout of the election for the 23rd Israeli Knesset:

Likud 36 (+4)

Blue and White 33 (0)

Joint List 15 (+2)

Shas 9 (0)

United Torah Judaism 7 (0)

Labor-Gesher-Meretz 7 (-4)

Yisrael Beiteinu 7 (-1)

Yamina 6 (-1)

Affected by the Corona crisis, Benjamin Netanyahu managed to persuade Benjamin Gantz to join an “Emergency Government” in order to form a government. Surprisingly, three members of the Labor-Gesher-Meretz list declared their willingness to join such a government under Netanyahu’s leadership: Orli Levi-Abekasis (Gesher) was first to join Netanyahu’s bloc, followed by Amir Peretz and Itzik Shmuli (both Labor) who seek to become ministers of welfare and economy in the new government. Labor Party chairman Amir Peretz submitted a formal request to dissolve its short-lived alliance with Meretz, effectively clearing Labor’s way to join a government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, alongside Gantz’s Blue and White Party. This move has been harshly criticized by Meretz and within Labor, and especially in their youth organizations. Meretz Chairman Nitzan Horowitz stated that Amir Peretz has „abused the trust of hundreds of thousands of voters“. Moreover, this move has outraged the Labor-Gesher-Meretz voters, considering that Peretz shaved his signature mustache in August 2019, telling voters to „read his lips“ as he asserted that he and the Labor-Gesher alliance would refuse to sit in a government led by Benjamin Netanyahu.

Blue and White also divided over Gantz’s decision to join the “unity government”, as Yair Lapid and Moshe Ya’alon separated their Fractions (Yesh Atid and Telem) from Blue and White. One key concern of those in opposition to joining a government with Netanyahu are his plans to annex the West Bank. Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories oppose this plan, as do Meretz, Young Labor and the Joint List. As there is still disagreement on issues such as the appointment of judges, the new coalition agreement is not signed yet.

So far, it is unclear what this move entails for the future of the Labor Party; many already argue that this marks the end of the party that has established the state and governed it for 29 years, until the “revolution” of the 1977 elections.

Exchanging on Conflict Sensitive Journalism and Conflict Transformation in the Philippines

Horizontal Exchange of forumZFD in the Philippines on Conflict Sensitive Journalism and Conflict Transformation


Our two project coordinators, Wiebke Warkentin and Tobias Pietsch, participated in a Horizontal Exchange of forumZFD in the Philippines, together with Iuna Vieira from the Forum Civil Peace Service (forumZFD) Jerusalem team. This format of exchange aims for mutual learning and the sharing of best practice approaches in the different areas in which forumZFD is active. The exchange program took place in the Mindanao Region in the South of the island state, from February 8th to the 19th. Mindanao faces multiple intertwined conflicts that derive from struggles over land and natural resources as well as cultural and ideological divisions. The situation in Mindanao is characterized by the struggle of multiple Muslim rebel groups for the creation of an autonomous Region on the one hand, and by the armed insurgency of the Maoist New People’s Army, which has persevered for almost 50 years, on the other. Caught in the crossfire, diverse groups of Indigenous Peoples of Mindanao struggle for a recognition of their rights.

The exchange began with the International Academic Conference “On Conflict-Sensitive Journalism”, that took place at the Ataneo de Davao University. 300 participants, consisting predominantly of students from the Philippines, but also including experts and practitioners from South East Asia, Europe and the Middle East, discussed their experience and ideas regarding conflict-sensitive journalism (CSJ). This approach strives for a media coverage that gives voice to all sides of the story, particularly in situations of conflict: Journalists need to critically reflect on their own roles as well as on dominant narratives in society, which may be prejudiced. By using the CSJ toolbox, the media can help mitigate tensions, instead of deepening social division through one-sided or sensationalized reporting.

During the exchange, the participants met the staff of forumZFD Philippines and their local partner organizations in Davao City and Cotabato City. In both offices, the work focusses on media as a tool for conflict transformation. The Media Educators Mindanao network (MEM), based in Davao City, developed curricula on conflict-sensitive journalism that are used in eight universities and colleges throughout Mindanao. In Cotabato City, which is part of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), the participants visited the Forum-team and their office, while their main focus was on exchanging ideas and experiences with activists of the Kutawato Multimedia Network (KuMuNet). Since 2013, and with the support of forumZFD, the Kutawato Multimedia Network produces a weekly one-hour radio program that reaches remote rural areas in the region. The program reports on the latest developments of the peace process and provides a platform for discussing listeners‘ concerns. Hence, the network’s diverse and nuanced coverage contributes to the de-escalation of the conflict, and facilitates a constructive dialogue. To go live on the radio program „The Voice of Peace“ and to see how the show is produced was a very impressive experience!

Back in Jerusalem, the participants presented the outcomes of the exchange to the entire team of the Willy Brandt Center and froumZFD Jerusalem. Many of the tools and ideas that were gained in the Philippines could be applied in our internal and external communications, as well as in different projects in Israel and Palestine. The team is now brainstorming ideas for implementation in the local context, and planning for a reciprocal exchange.

NEW: Women* Group for Movement & Mindfulness

Body. Mind. Movement.

Movement, mindfulness and attention the experience of the body.

A new group(for women only), in the spirit of the dance movement therapy principles is starting on Wednesday, February 12th at 11:30 and will consist of eight sessions, one and a half hour each.

The group is for women only, English, Arabic or Hebrew speakers from the age of 20 and above.

The sessions are taking place at the Willy Brandt Center, located in Abu Tor neighborhood in Jerusalem.

גוף. נפש. תנועה.
עבודה תנועתית, קשיבות, והגברת תשומת הלב לחוויה הגופנית.

קבוצה חדשה (לנשים בלבד) ברוח העקרונות של תרפיה בתנועה ומחול תיפתח ביום רביעי, 12 לפברואר בשעה 11:30 ותהא מורכבת משמונה מפגשים באורך של שעה וחצי כל אחד.

הקבוצה מיועדת לנשים בלבד, דוברות אנגלית, ערבית או עברית, מגיל 20 ומעלה.

ניפגש במרכז וילי ברנדט הממוקם בשכונת אבו תור, ירושלים.
*המפגשים הינם ללא תשלום אך נדרשת הרשמה מראש.

جسد, فكر, حركة

الحركة, اليقظة والاهتمام بتجربة الجسم.

مجموعة نسائية جديدة من العلاج عن طريق الرقص ومبادئها ستبدأ يوم الأربعاء 12 شباط 2020 عند الساعة 11:30 صباحا. وستتألف المجموعة من ثماني لقاءات، وسيدوم كل لقاء حوالي ساعة ونصف.

المجموعة مخصصة للنساء فقط ، المتحدثات باللغة الإنجليزية أو العربية أو العبرية من جيل 20 وما فوق.

ستقام اللقاءات في مركز ويلي براندت – أبو الطور – عين روجيل 22 – القدس

*** اللقاءات مجانية مع الأفضلية بتسجيل المشاركة مسبقا.

للحجز والاستفسار: shkedit@gmail.com


Willy’s Pop Up Dance Hall: Swing Evening – January 28, 2020

After the popular success of Jerusalem’s first Pop Up Dance Hall Festival last autumn, which attracted participants of all ages, nations and religions, we decided to continue our dance activities on a monthly basis.
This year’s first edition of Willy’s Pop Up Dance Hall was presented under the motto “Dancing on the Line“. The purpose of this initiative is to present different dance styles such as swing, salsa, tango, vogueing, waltz and gaga by professional dance instructors, who teach our participants the basic steps of each dance style, followed by social dance sessions.
The evening of January 28th was dedicated to swing. Swing was a popular dance style from the 1920s to the 1950s, and over the past two decades it has seen a huge worldwide revival . We at the Willy Brandt Center were delighted to welcome back our friends from Swing Dance Palestine, a group that was established in 2014 by dedicated Palestinian dancers, with a swing dancer from Germany as their teacher. The group has grown over the years, and now also offers classes in Bethlehem and Ramallah for experienced dancers as well as beginners.
The participants in our swing evening travelled to Jerusalem from Bethlehem, Hebron, Ramallah and Tel Aviv. We are looking forward to future cooperation with Swing Dance Palestine and to present Willy’s Pop Up Dance Hall in other places of the region as well.