Over 45 activists from all of our political partner organizations met in Berlin and Brandenburg for this year’s summer camp, from the 11th to the 18th of August.
On the first day in Berlin, we met at the Willy-Brandt-Haus for a welcome and an introduction to the joint week. The foundations for the program where laid in a safe-space workshop and team building activities, in order to create an atmosphere of trust. A specific highlight for the participants was their meeting and discussing with Delara Burkhardt, a newly elected member of the European Parliament. She also joined the group to a city tour in Kreuzberg, which focused on the history of the separation of Berlin, the fall of the wall and the district’s current diverse population.
On the next day, the group took off to the campsite in Brandenburg. After lunch, the participants got to know each other better in a narrative workshop during which each participant introduced their family’s history. This was an important step for mutual understanding and a building of trust. In the evening, the organizations presented themselves to the participants, in order to learn more about each other’s history, work and values.
During the following two days, the participants worked in three different mixed groups on the topics of workers’ rights, gender equality and climate change, led by an educational team composed of representatives from all the participating organizations. The participants identified common challenges and interests, enabling them to also discuss and find joint answers to these challenges. In the field of climate change especially, it was obvious that pollution and effects of climate change do not stop at political boarders nor separation barriers; therefore, cooperation across borders is the only way to find sustainable and effective solutions. The trustful and cooperative atmosphere also enabled the Israeli and Palestinian participants to share their experiences regarding the ongoing conflict and occupation. After challenging and emotional discussions and sharing of feelings, they all agreed that it’s time to end this political situation and to overcome the suffering of the two societies, and especially that of the young generations.
Back in Berlin, the participants brainstormed and discussed follow-up activities in order to stay in touch with each other and keep on working – together and separately – on the topics of the summer camp. A long list of ideas was presented in an event at Luise and Karl Kautsky Haus. Some of them, like a green rooftop, have already been implemented (see Work & Study Delegation), while others will take place next year.
The second WBC summer camp was also very successful in that it showed the importance and potential of trilateral cross-border activities, which lead to very specific outcomes and especially to trustful interpersonal relationships.
“Art has no limits”
Ludwig van Beethoven
The violinists Iris Krall-Radulian and Daniela Preimesberger, and the violist Maria Potulska, members of the Varietas-Ensemble, proved in a most beautiful way that Beethoven’s quote is undeniably true when it comes to playing music in our region.
This celebrated Viennese ensemble has performed at renowned international festivals and concert halls such as the Salzburg Festival, Lockenhaus Festival, Vienna Konzerthaus and the Mozarteum Salzburg. They opened their concert tour, which is their premier apperance in the Middle East, with a recital for students, staff and friends of the Bethlehem University, and performed pieces by Beethoven, Dvorak, Mozart and Händel at the Chapel of the Divine Child on University campus.
On the following day we had the chance to accompany the Varietas-Ensemble to a workshop on Mozart’s “Little Night Music”, organized by Dutch cellist Fabienne van Eck. Van Eck is the manager of Musicians without Borders in Palestine, and founder of “Sounds of Palestine”, a community music project inspired by and based on the concept of El Sistema in Venezuela, which promotes music education as a medium to achieve long term social change for the participating children and their families.
On September 13th, the Varietas-Ensemble performed at the Pasha Room at the American Colony Hotel. The audience included Israelis and Palestinians, as well as international guests from all over the region.
In her review, music critic Pamela Hickman praised the musical dialogue that was sparkling, exciting and virtuosic, and the artists’ “quick-change-artistry” that presented beauty and diversity through a kaleidoscope of string techniques.
Classical music has always played an important role in the rich history of this legendary hotel. For centuries, it was not only a place of historic encounters between remarkable figures, from Lawrence of Arabia to the political leaders of today, but has also been a place of arts and creation. The hotel’s archives house old-ages scores and music sheets written at or for the American Colony. The Willy Brandt Center is proud to be part of the musical revival of this prestigious venue and its long tradition of intercultural encounters and artistic exchanges.
Another audience of music lovers of all generations was reached at the famous Taybeh Beer festival in the Palestinian Territories, where the three musicians gave another brilliant example of their talent in an afternoon open air performance.
We would like to thank the Austrian Cultural Forum in Tel Aviv for bringing the Varietas-Ensemble to Jerusalem, and for enabling all these inspiring musical encounters. Our thanks also goes to the American Colony Hotel, for generously hosting the musicians during their stay.
On September 3rd, the Willy Brandt Center was delighted to welcome Stephen Byrne, the founder of RippleZoo – a Dublin based non-profit trust that focuses on global issues – for an exchange of ideas, experiences and strategies for peace projects in areas of crisis.
The visit’s main focus was the development of intercultural music projects with young European, Israeli and Palestinian participants. These projects will be realized in cooperation with the Mediterranean Perspectives Association, whose president, Enrico Molinaro, was also present at the meeting.
The team of the Willy Brandt Center enjoyed hearing about RippleZoo’s plans and ideas, and brainstorming together about possible options for future cooperation.
We are in complete agreement with RippleZoo’s credo, stating that “Anything war can do, peace can do better”, and support their mission and strong belief that cultural projects enable us to make a positive difference in the world.
Application Deadline: August 26th 2019
אנו מחפשים עוזר- צוות במשרה חלקית במרכז ווילי ברנדט בירושלים
مساعد/ة فريق بوظيفة جزئية لمركز ويلي براندت في القدس
Part-time assistant (f/m/d) at the Willy Brandt Center
Duties include (but will not be limited to):
- Secretarial and administrative support such as answering calls, taking messages, handling correspondence and keeping track of pending matters
- Organisational support, for example arranging meetings and events, preparing background material or making travel arrangements for delegations and other visiting groups;
- Handling and follow up of visa and permit applications
- Translations from English into Arabic and Hebrew
- Preparations and support for bookkeeping and accounting
- Event assistance (in-house and at other locations, incl. events in the Westbank)
- Welcoming visitors and hospitality service for guests of the center
- Car trips for supplies and logistics
Openness for the cross-boarder-approach of the WBC, excellent written and verbal communication skills in Arabic, English and Hebrew, ability to travel into the Westbank.
Working hours: 3 half days days per week (65 hours per month)
preferably on afternoons with willingness to be available for events taking place on evenings and weekends if needed
To apply, please submit your CV and an informal motivation letter to
Since mid-July, Tobias Pietsch is the new Coordinator of the “Politics without Borders” project in the WBC. Tobias has been committed to the work of the WBC for over 10 years. His involvement began in 2008 as a volunteer at the WBC, and since then he has engaged with this project, as well as with the region in general. He has been a member of the board of the WBC Support Association in Germany for many years, and supported the volunteers in Jerusalem. Throughout his work as a tour guide at Alsharq, he has become acquainted with almost every corner of Israel and Palestine. Tobi has gotten to know not only the places, but also the people that make these countries so special. We are more than happy to have Tobi as our project coordinator at the WBC, and expect with confidence the challenges that we will face together.
Herzlich Willkommen Tobias!
Seit Mitte Juli ist Tobias der neue Koordinator des Projekts „Entscheider*innen der Zukunft“ im WBC. Tobias ist bereits seit über 10 Jahren in die Arbeit rund um das WBC involviert. Sein Weg begann 2008 als Zivildienstleistender im WBC und seitdem hat ihn das Projekt, aber auch die Region allgemein nicht mehr losgelassen. Er war danach viele Jahre Mitglied im Fördervereinsvorstand des WBZ e.V. und betreute seinerseits die Zivildienstleistenden, später dann FSJler*innen. Durch seine Arbeit als Reiseleiter bei alsharq kennt er inzwischen wohl fast jede Ecke in Israel und Palästina. Er kennt aber vor allem nicht nur die Orte, sondern allen voran die Menschen, die diese Länder so besonders machen. Wir können uns mehr als glücklich schätzen, Tobias nun als Projektkoordinator im WBC zu haben und blicken mit Zuversicht auf die kommenden Herausforderungen, die wir gemeinsam angehen wollen.
Thank you for everything, Judith!
Judith Höffkes, project coordinator since 2016, has left the WBC after three eventful years. Judith has navigated the “Politics without Borders” project through exciting and challenging times. She has always been devoted to introducing young people with the WBC, and to explain the various narratives that parallel each other and allow for a mutual understanding. Judith has always been our anchor, and has left an important mark on the WBC. We would like to thank her for everything!
Danke für Alles, Judith!
Judith Höffkes, Projektkoordinatorin seit 2016, hat nach drei ereignisreichen Jahren das WBC verlassen. Judith hat das Projekt „Entscheider*innen der Zukunft“ sicher durch aufregende Zeiten geführt. Sie hat sich immer die Zeit genommen junge Menschen an das WBC heranzuführen und die unterschiedlichen Narrative die dort aufeinander prallen verständlich zu erklären. Judith war unser Fels in der Brandung, sie hat das WBC geprägt und wir möchten uns bei ihr für alles bedanken!
A group of ten German teachers, organized by the GEW – Gewerkschaft Erziehung und Wissenschaft (teachers union), visited the Willy Brandt Center on July 23rd. For many years, the GEW have been conducting joint seminars with their local counterparts on ways of dealing with the past. For this reason, they have been especially interested in the narrative work and methods we perform in our project. Aside from introducing our general activities, we focused on how young Israelis and Palestinians share their family histories with one another, in a framework which enables them to learn and understand about similarities and differences in biographies and narratives.
On July 17th we hosted a delegation of 11 members of Ver.di, the German United Services Trade Union. The delegation members were introduced to the Willy Brandt Center’s work and activities, and were then invited to a Q&A session on Palestinian and Israeli politics, economy and society.
The visiting participants were particularly interested by the overview on the various political parties, elections and economic situation in Palestine, as well as the education system and vocal trainings for young adults. Discussing the roles and challenges of trade unions in both countries, the conversation also touched on divides and ongoing debates in Israeli society. Finally, there was an analysis of the Israeli elections in April, with the intention of providing an outlook on the upcoming elections in September.
This June, the Willy Brandt Center organised a fieldtrip to the Negev/Naqab aimed at learning more about the challenges that Bedouin women face in their lives and in the labour market. The fieldtrip allowed us to meet these women first hand and to see what can’t be seen from Jerusalem, from afar.
First we met Ilham from Sidreh in the Bedouin village Lakiya, who introduced us to the businesses Bedouin women work in, such as embroidery and other handcrafts. Embroidery is one of the traditions that all Bedouin women learn, usually for the purpose of decorating dresses. Nowadays, these embroidery patterns are also used for bags and pillows, thus connecting this traditional art to new products intended for customers all around the world.
We met Dr. Sarab Abu Rabia-Queder (Senior Lecturer at Ben-Gurion University) at Ajeek, which is an Arab-Jewish Center for Empowerment and Cooperation in the Negev, aimed at promoting socio-economic development. Sarab presented her paper titled “The Economy of Survival: Bedouin Women in Unrecognized Villages” (2017), and talked about how Bedouin women rarely have the resources for agriculture, they have lost their productive roles within their families, and are not able to find jobs or work in the public workforce. Sarab further discussed the ways in which the lives of Bedouin women have changed following the Nakba and due to the current living conditions – especially in unrecognised villages, where land confiscations and the deprivation of housing rights and proper infrastructure are prevalent.
In 1969, German Young Socialists decided during their federal congress in Munich to turn to the left, and became an independent youth organization of the Social Democratic Party. 50 years later, the present generation of young activists celebrated this historical step, which continues to influence the organization’s DNA. Activists and former and current coordinators contributed to the three-day congress.
In a “then and now” talk, former project coordinator Christopher Paesen, discussed with Judith Höffkes their experiences at the WBC in different points of time. Political team member Nilli Marderer and project manager Tobias Pietsch gave a workshop on the beliefs of Socialist Zionism, based on the notions formulated by Moshe Hess. Sitting under a Bavarian chestnut tree, Judith offered a Q&A session concerning current issues in Israel and Palestine, and attracted the interest of numerous participants.