October 2019 marked the 50th anniversary of the chancellorship of Willy Brandt. In the general election in September 1969, the SPD become the strongest party for the first time, and on October 21st Willy Brandt was elected as the fourth Chancellor of the Federal Republic Germany. Therefore, we dedicated a Political Café on October 17th with Kevin Kühnert, chairperson of Jusos (Young Socialists in the SPD), to look back at Willy Brandt’s Chancellorship. We further discussed the question of Willy Brandt’s policies and slogans’ relevance and usefulness for present times, and the cooperation of young political actors from Israel, Palestine and Germany within the framework of the Willy Brandt Center Jerusalem.
Kevin spoke about his personal views on Willy Brandt, and how the political and public arena have changed over the past decades, making it hard to imagine a “second” Willy Brandt today. The Political Café was concluded by a quote of Brandt from 1992: “Nothing comes by itself. And little is permanent. Therefore – remember your strength and the fact that each time needs its own answers”. This quote was adapted to the present: let’s be strong together and find our own answers for nowaday’s challenges.
On October 12, 2019, the Willy Brandt Center dedicated a Red Lounge to poet, politician, writer, orientalist, diplomat and rebel, Wilfrid Scawen Blunt (1840-1922).
Blunt was described as a wildly individual, illustrious and eccentric personality. Accompanied by his wife, Lady Anne Blunt (a granddaughter of Lord Byron), Blunt traveled the Middle East and visited Jerusalem, a town he would refer to later as the most beautiful place he had ever been in.
The Willy Brandt Center was happy to host an evening full of poetry, adventurous historical discoveries, original illustrations, lively discussions and a tasty British tea time, served on the center’s balcony.
The evening’s guest of honor was the British Consul-General, his excellency Mr. Philip Hall, who reflected on Blunt and his role in British diplomacy and society.
The event also featured a discussion on Blunt’s political views and his personal life, while highlighting Lady Blunt’s courageous personality: as the first European woman to make a recorded journey into Central Arabia, she documented her travels through sketches and diaries, depicting her experiences and the people and she encountered along the way.
The renowned Israeli actor Guy Bracca recited poems of W. S. Blunt, which also reflected Blunt’s impressions of his journey to Jerusalem. The event also included a colorful insight into the cosmopolitan Jerusalem of Blunt’s time by Prof. Ali Qleibo.
In Israel, there’s no public transportation on Saturdays;in Germany – no public transportation in remote regions. For this reason, we hosted a Political Café on September 19th with Johanna Uekermann, Secretary of labour union EVG for train and mobility, and former chairwomen of Jusos.
We discussed not only mobility as a basic right for all citizens, whether living in metropolitan areas or the periphery; the discussion soon focused on climate protection, green mobility and the future of public transportation. In order to reduce CO2 pollution, the infrastructure and principles of public transportation need to change drastically. During the discussion with guests from Tel Aviv, we debated the issue of e-scooters: are they a supplement to public transportation, or a new threat and challenge. The conclusion of the Israeli participants was that more light rails are needed in the cities, as well as more busses on Shabbat (Saturday). A representative of the Shabus-Cooperative in Tel Aviv announced that public transportation will soon be introduced on Saturdays in Tel Aviv.
“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.
Along with the abovementioned activities, from the 11th to the 19th September we also hosted and supported a delegation of 16 scholarship-holders of the Hans-Böckler-Foundation. The focus of the delegation was meeting the partners of the foundation and of the WBC, learning about the role and work of trade unions and aim attention at relevant topics like social justice.
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.