“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.

Red Lounge: Film Screening of Orchestra of Exiles – January 19, 2020

On January 19th 2020, the Willy Brandt Center presented a film by Academy Award nominated director Josh Aronson, titled Orchestra of Exiles. The event started with a short introduction by our Social Art project coordinator Petra Klose, highlighting the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra’s role in contemporary Israeli society – aiming to represent its cultural identity and diversity, and perceiving music as a force of humanity against any form of intolerance.

The film Orchestra of Exiles delivers a message about the power of music in times of crisis, by focusing on the compelling story of one man’s vision and the struggles of Jewish musicians against Nazism. It tells of the celebrated polish violinist Bronislaw Huberman, who rescued some of the world’s greatest musicians from Nazi Germany and later created one of the world’s greatest orchestras – the Palestine Philharmonic, which became the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra in 1948. Huberman’s exceptional efforts saved hundreds of Jewish families from the imminent threats of the Holocaust, while his achievements changed the landscape of cultural history. Moreover, the movie depicts the events that lead to the establishing of one of today’s most celebrated orchestras, and portrays its protagonists, including supporters such as Albert Einstein and conductor Arturo Toscanini who believed that the goal of art is always humanity. The film includes commentary by Pinchas Zukerman, Zubin Mehta, Itzhak Perlman, Joshua Bell, and descendants of founding members of the orchestra.

Introducing our New Volunteer – Jost Weisenfeld

On September 2nd we welcomed our new volunteer, Jost Weisenfeld, together with three other volunteers of the Diakonie Württemberg organization in Jerusalem. After a welcome workshop and a few days of orientation, Jost started to support the team in Jerusalem. The 21-year-old from Hessen is a member of Jusos (Young Socialists in the SPD) as well as The Falcons (Socialist Youth Germany), in which he has been active for more than seven years. Through his activism in Jusos, he participated in international summer camps and in a delegation of Jusos from Hessen to the WBC, where he first met partners of our political cooperation and learned about the project.

Jost supports the entire team in Jerusalem and all of the projects. Amongst his key tasks are accompanying delegations and assisting events at the center. He’s also learning a lot by joining delegations and activities of the WBC. One of his most impressive experiences so far was a political tour to the occupied Golan Heights, focusing on the geopolitical situation. But Jost is not only learning and supporting the team – he also offers input to the team. For instance, he presented a workshop on ableism, allowing the team to reflect on disabilities and the challenges that people affected by dwarfism face every day.

We are looking forward to a joint year of mutual learning and support, and a great time with Jost in Jerusalem.

“Wind and Transience. Music to lyrics of Thomas Bernhard” – November 11, 2019

2019 marks the 30th anniversary of the death of Austrian writer Thomas Bernhard. On this occasion, selected poems were presented by Manuela Maria Mitterer (reading and recorder) and Valentin Malanetski (live electronics).

Thomas Bernhard (1931-1989) is one of the most important modern German-speaking writers. He was repeatedly denounced as a “traitor” for his outspoken criticism of Austria. His play “Heldenplatz/Heroes Square”, commissioned for the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Vienna Burgtheater in 1988 and the 50th anniversary of the “Anschluss”, caused particular controversy. Triggering one of the biggest cultural scandals of the 20th century, Bernhard ‘s works initiated a debate about Austria’s role in the atrocities of National Socialism.

The program “Wind and Transience” was presented in collaboration with the Austrian Cultural Forum, Tel Aviv. Mr. Arno Mitterdorfer, director of the Austrian Cultural Forum, Tel Aviv, welcomed artists and audience, highlighting Bernhard’s important role in “rubbing salt into the wounds”, as an extraordinary example of the power of art to bring the past into the future.

In her review, music critic Pamela Hickman praised the poems’ illustrationin music and sounds, “drawing together all the threads of the evening’s contents into a rich, disturbing but captivating journey“.

Jerusalem’s First Pop-Up Ballroom Festival (five events) – October 27-31, 2019

The Social Art Program organized the first Pop-Up Ballroom Festival in Jerusalem, attracting participants of a wide range of different ages, nationalities and cultural backgrounds from Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Ramallah and Tel Aviv.

At each of the five events, professional dance instructors offered a free dancing class and taught the audience basic steps which they were able to try straight away on the dance floor.

The program included salsa, swing, Viennese waltz, and tango, as well as an introduction session to dance therapy. Palestinian and German DJs, as well as the renowned pianist Maria Neishstadt, carried out the program with their musical contributions. The Viennese waltz workshop took place at the Austrian Hospice in the old city of Jerusalem, while all other dancing events were organized at the Willy Brandt Center and lasted until late into the night.

Dance is a language that enables us to talk without words, as it connects people through the joy of movement. Due to the big turnout and the immense public success, the Willy Brandt Center has decided to continue its dance activities by offering a dance therapy course for women in the coming year, as well as a series of clubbing events under the motto “Dancing on the Line”.

Salsa – Sunday, October 27, 2019
The Willy Brandt Center held a Salsa dance with Yonathan and the professional dancer Katie Silver for about hour and a half, in which she gave a small introduction to Salsa and offered a few basic steps for the participants to begin with.

Following the Salsa dance, Najwan, a young Palestinian DJ woman, played Latin music, allowing the participants dance freely and enjoy the music.

This day was the opening session for the week-long festival.

Swing – Monday, October 28, 2019
The Willy Brandt Center conducted a swing dancing event, performed and instructed by a Palestinian group and their swing dance teacher from Germany. They started off by explaining what is swing dancing, and gave some basic dance moves for beginners. The class lasted for an hour and a half, during which the participants enjoyed the atmosphere and kept on dancing.

Viennese Waltz – Tuesday, October 29, 2019
Our Social Art Coordinator, Petra Klose, held the Viennese Waltz dance at the Austrian Hospice in the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem, where she gave the basic waltz steps in a short introduction workshop. Participants followed the steps and started to dance with their partners, while enjoying a live music performance by the pianist Maria Neishtadt. The class was an hour and a half long, and was also held in the beautiful, enchanting ambiance of the Imperial Salon at the hospice.

The event was also followed by a classical music concert by the Austrian duo Karner & Henter.

Dance Movement Therapy – Wednesday, October 30, 2019
This event was intended only for women – Arab, Jewish and International. It was held at the Willy Brandt Center by the instructor Shaked Sabag, who explained what is dance movement therapy and shed light on its importance. This was followed by some exercises that helped the women to feel comfortable and more relaxed. The session lasted for an hour and a half, and included different exercises such as a mirror exercise and breath exercise. The women participants enjoyed the session and requested additional sessions in the near future.

Tango – Thursday, October 31, 2019
This was the last event of the Pop-Up Ballroom Festival. The Willy Brandt Center organized a tango class held by the professional Tango dancer and teacher Anna Rosenberg, who gave an introduction to the dance, followed by basic tango steps. The participants enjoyed the live music performance by the pianist Maria Neishtadt.

In summary, each event had approximately 10 to 15 participants that enjoyed the classes, the night view from the beautiful balcony at the Willy Brandt Center, and small refreshments.

Political Café “50 Years Chancellor Willy Brandt“ – October 17, 2019

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.