From Social Justice to Peace – chances for cross-border trade union cooperation

Trade unions take an active part in the mediating process between workers and employers, and strengthen workers’ rights vis-à-vis the state and in the framework of employment. Hence trade unions are uniquely equipped for the work of civil conflict transformation, fair negotiations and fighting social injustice.

The publication “From Social Justice to Peace – chances for cross-border trade union cooperation” is produced with a grant provided by the Foundation for Social Society and Sustainable Development of the trade union IG Bauen Agrar Umwelt. It presents comprehensively the history and status quo of trade unionism in Israel and Palestine.

Two representatives from the respective societies describe the interconnection of workers’ rights beyond borders and highlight potential fields of cooperation, thus fostering inclusive activism for a peaceful and just future.

Two Narratives-One Future: Annual Conference 2015

Review of our Annual Conference 2015 ” Two Narratives-One Future”

It were difficult times as activists and officials from Israel, Palestine, Germany and over the world gathered in Jerusalem for Willy Brandt Center’s Annual Conference. The headline “Two Narratives – One Future” was more current than ever before in 2015. Facing the outbreak of violent clashes and terrorist attacks in both Israel and Palestine it became very clear that there are huge differences between the perceptions of the recent events. This needed to be of course reflected within the agenda of the Annual Conference.
The trilateral organization team took a lot of effort to adapt the planned workshops and discussions to the current situation. After the informal Get-Together on Friday evening in the Willy Brandt Center the conference began on Saturday with an expert input on the developments on Temple Mount/Haram as Sharif. Afterwards the participants reflected on how different recent events are shown in the Israeli and Palestinian media and discussed reasons for it. In the end workshops about social struggles worldwide were held with the question how people in Israel and Palestine can relate to it and what can be learned for the own activism.

All photos by Yam Vignola

Facing the future together: 50 years of politcal youth exchange

Review of our event: Facing the future together – more than 50 years of political youth exchange
The history of political youth exchange between Germany and the Middle East dates back longer then the official establishment of the diplomatic relations between Germany and Israel 50 years ago. On occasion of this anniversary the Willy Brandt Center Jerusalem hosted a BarCamp to take a closer look how the relations evolved that lead to the trilateral ties between young Israeli, Palestinian and German political activists. The BarCamp opened a space for direct and non-formal exchange. Therefore Willy Brandt Center invited representatives of three generations of political youth exchange: The generation of pioneers from the 60s and 70s, the generation of Oslo in the 80s and 90s and the generation of today enhancing an exchange of knowledge between all of them.
The generation of pioneers was impressively represented by Walter Haas a trade-unionist who came to Israel the first time in 1962. Because his visit happened before official relations were established it was very hard for him to travel. But despite the obstacles it was his fascination about socialist and collective ways of living together that made him travel anyways. He was willing to face the hard task to come as a representative of the people who committed the Holocaust to the jewish people. But the aim to build a better future gave him a continuous motivation to go on with his idea. Luckily he found partners that welcomed him and were willing to visit him in Germany. This visit and the return visit one year later laid the foundation for the political youth activities in the Middle East.
The generation of Oslo faced new challenges in their relation with each other. The conflict between Israelis and Palestinians went after the war of 1967 into a new stage, since the occupation of the West-Bank began and the PLO was pushing from outside Palestine towards an independent state. This debate was reflected in Europe and Germany by a political division with people taking side for either the Israeli or the Palestinian cause. In the light of the upcoming Oslo agreements some key actors in the political youth movements like Harald Schrapers took an important step by creating the idea of double solidarity. A double solidarity with both the legitimate needs of the Israeli and the Palestinian people to live in an independent state, with an equal life in peace and security with the chance of economic prosperity. In times when real peace was very close this principle helped to engage a trilateral dialogue between Israelis, Palestinians and Germans.
For political activist that are representing political youth movements today like Johanna Uekermann and Uri Keidar the trilateral idea of the 90s became reality. It is a guiding idea to address the complicated situation we are facing in the Middle East today. Even though current developments make a direct exchange hard from time to time, activist of today are convinced of the added value the dialogue across the borders has. They see it as their task today more than ever before to bridge the gaps that are dividing people. Because if there is one lesson to learn from the past it is that real peace can be reached not by dividing people but only in a cooperation that unites people for the struggle for liberty and equality.

Photos: Tobias Pietsch


BarCamp 29.10.15 Facing the Future Together

Barcamp 29.10.2015, 16:00 pm
Facing the future together – 50 years of political youth exchange

Willy Brandt Center , 22 Ein Rogel St, Jerusalem (Abu Tor)


On occasion of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Germany and Israel” Willy Brandt Center invites you to take part in a BarCamp on political youth exchange between Israel and Germany. A BarCamp is an interactive form of presentation, in which you as participants decide how to shape this event. Invited are witnesses and activists from Israel and Germany – the pioneers of the first encounters in the 60s, activists of peace movements at the time of the Oslo negotiations and young people, who represent the political spirit of the new generation. Together we will to initiate a dialogue between cultures and generations!







Ein weiter, faszinierender Blick auf die Altstadt

Die SPD-Fraktionsspitze hat das Willy Brandt Center besucht. „Für einige Gäste aus Deutschland ist es ein Wiedersehen“, berichtet Die Welt aus Jerusalem. „Der Gang auf die Terrasse aber begeistert die alten Bekannten ebenso wie diejenigen, die zum ersten Mal hier sind. Das Willy-Brandt-Center in Jerusalem bietet einen weiten, faszinierenden Blick auf die Altstadt, auf Felsendom und, auf dem Ölberg, die evangelische Himmelfahrtskirche. Thomas Oppermann ist am Mittwochmittag mit 13 seiner Kollegen zu Gast im Willy-Brandt-Center. Im Jahre 1996 hatten die Jugendorganisationen der SPD, der israelischen Arbeiterpartei und der palästinensischen Fatah einen entsprechenden Vertrag unterzeichnet.“ Später sei auch der Nachwuchs der Meretz-Partei hinzugestoßen, notiert Daniel Friedrich Sturm.
„Am Mittwochmittag diskutieren junge israelische und palästinensische Politiker im Willy-Brandt-Center über den Stand des Friedensprozesses – wenige Stunden nachdem aus dem Gazastreifen eine Rakete abgefeuert wurde und Israel mit der Bombardierung terroristischer Stellungen reagierte. Die Gegenwart ist also plötzlich sehr präsent, die Parlamentarier stellen kritische Fragen mit versöhnlichem Tonfall.“ → Die Welt