The Easter holidays are always a busy time for the Willy Brandt Center. This year, Falken delegations from Baden Wurttemberg, Hessen and Berlin, as well as from the Archiv der Arbeiterjugend (Working Youth Archive), visited the center to learn more about the cooperation of the IFM-SEI (International Falcon Movement – Socialist Educational International) movements in the Middle East and their relations with SJD – Die Falken.
Each delegation customized their program in Israel according to their exchange partner organization. The Falken from Hessen and Berlin for instance travelled all over the country to meet with the Arab Section of HaNoar HaOved VeHaLomed (NOAL) and in the latter case took part in a workshop about anti-racism and cultural appropriation. The group from Baden Wurttemberg organized an exchange in Rishon LeTzion in particular, to learn about the history and political practice of HaShomer HaTzair. On the other hand, the group from the Archiv der Arbeiterjugend visited archives, met with historians and collected sources relating to the Zionist Socialist movements.
Their visit to the Willy Brandt Center was an additional opportunity for delegations to reflect on their time in Israel and to exchange thoughts about current political developments. Participants were particularly interested in the narratives and struggles of different ethnic, religious and political communities in the city and in the controversial decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. So what better place to start talking about these questions than the balcony of the Willy Brandt Center, which offers one of the most stunning views of the Old City and East Jerusalem!
Petra Klose is an Austrian-Czech cultural manager who was initially drawn to Jerusalem by a music festival taking place in Israel and Palestine in 2007. From the very first moment, she was fascinated by the many colors, the immense cultural richness and the uncountable number of fascinating stories from Jerusalem’s past and present. Over the years, she has developed a strong connection with the region, the people and cultural life. In 2011 she was assigned by Sari Nuseeibeh, at that time president of Al Quds University, to develop the Al Quds College of Music Project. She has also worked on other projects in the region like the Austrian Hospice Academy and the American Colony Concert Series and has presented Israeli and Palestinian art projects in Europe.
Petra Klose studied Drama and German Literature in Vienna and was also trained in ballet, harp and elocution. She founded „K und K Wien“, an agency for artists and intercultural projects in Vienna which collaborates with organizations like the Vienna Festival, Salzburg Festival, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, the Scala and the Bolshoi Theatre.
„I see the Willy Brandt Center Jerusalem as an unique creative space for cross-cultural exchange and profound human encounters. Despite or maybe even because of all the challenges artists are facing in this part of the world, I couldn’t think of a more inspiring place for the arts, as I believe that art itself is always destined to find its way to realization beyond all borders.“
Five days, eight nations and one show.
Twelve young people between the ages of 19 and 22 came together in Jerusalem and Berlin to set up a performance called “Narratives of Longing”, using approaches such as ethnology, fine arts, performance and video-making.
After a week in Jerusalem in November, they met again in Berlin for 5 days to finalize their performances and present at the Theatre Expedition Metropolis as part of the festival “New Narratives”.
The participants were not only from Germany, Israel and Palestine, but also from Afghanistan, Mexico, Italy, Poland and Romania. Diversity was not merely spoken about, but was also experienced and lived daily. Flight – the search for asylum, threat and discrimination – was a connecting narrative that all participants had experienced in varying degrees, regardless of where they born or raised. The narrative of personal liberation from constraints, permanent expectations and restrictions was a central theme for many.
This authentic performance of diversity attracted a large audience at the festival “New Narratives”.
We are proud to be part of this project and to make a great contribution to its success by providing a safer space across conflict lines at the WBC in Jerusalem.
“Narratives of longing” is a cooperation with: Drei Wünsche Frei-Studio for Hybrid Culture (Berlin), Theater Expedition Metropolis (Berlin), the Center for International Encounters (Jerusalem), the Willy Brandt Center Jerusalem and the Musrara School of Art. Special thanks to the Theater Thikwa Berlin.
This project was funded within the framework of the EUROPEANS FOR PEACE program of the Foundation EVZ (Erinnerung, Verantwortung und Zukunft / Remembrance, Responsibility and Future).
Featured image by courtesy of Amal Mattar, 2018
Photo documentation: Michelle Reissmann
In January 2018 Maja Sojref joined the Willy Brandt Center as the new coordinator for the project “Education for Social Change”. She has since spent as much time as possible in the youth clubs and offices of our partner organisations, in order to learn more about them and their approaches to non-formal education.
“These youth movements are radically re-imagining the possibilities for Israeli-Palestinian cooperation. Against all odds, they are determined to find new ways. The region needs youth like them”, she says “and I feel very privileged to work with them.”
Maja is a policy, public affairs and communications specialist with experience in international organisations, NGOs and media in Berlin, London, Oxford and Jerusalem. Before joining the Willy Brandt Center she worked as press consultant for the OECD Berlin office.
Growing up in Berlin Maja, was an active member of SJD-Die Falken. During countless trips to Israel and Palestine, she discovered her passion for Middle Eastern politics, history and languages and fell in love with Jerusalem: “There is no place like Jerusalem. In Jerusalem you can see both the ugliest face of the conflict and a blueprint for solidarity and shared existence.”
On 8th March 2018 we are still having to fight for equal rights for everyone regardless of gender.
The WBC in Jerusalem has been working for more than twenty ye…ars with our partners to strengthen the political role of women in society.
Without equal rights for men and women, there will be neither social justice nor a democratic society. That’s what we want to emphasise today on International Women’s Day, but it is also something we have to work for every day!
Thank you for your support!
Postcard designed for the WBC by: Dorit Bialer, 2018
In November young artists from Berlin and Jerusalem came together in Jerusalem.
They arrived with distinctive backgrounds of five different nations and are trained in fields such as ethnology, fine arts, performance and videomaking. Together they started working on a performance about “longing”
The project will continue in March 2018 in Berlin.
“Narratives of longing” is a cooperation with Drei Wünsche Frei-Studio for Hybrid Culture (Berlin), Theater Expedition Metropolis (Berlin) and the Center for International Encounters (Jerusalem) and is funded within the framework of the EUROPEANS FOR PEACE programme of the Foundation EVZ (Erinnerung, Verantwortung und Zukunft/ Remembrance, Responsibility and Future).
This year’s partners conference was another opportunity for us to reflect on the past year’s activities, to exchange our experiences and to take a glimpse into the future: How do we continue to create peace and dialogue while surrounded by conflict? Taking a new route with our Annual Conference we focused this year on the city where we live, work and meet: Jerusalem.
There is no solution for the conflict without considering Jerusalem in all its complexities and contradictions. So this year we opened the doors of our Center in this very heart of the conflict for two days to focus on this complex and wonderful city. While our reception on Thursday was an opportunity for mingling, networking and discussing art exhibitions in the WBC, we invited our guests on Friday to take part in talking sessions with artists, political discussions with activists and journalists and to debate during breaks on our balcony and terrace the possible future visions of our city. We thank you all for joining our event and sharing your experiences and thoughts. We can’t wait to continue the discussions and ideas within our projects.
We were happy to welcome our partners from the Hans Böckler Foundation for the 3rd time to facilitate a delegation for young scholars and student activists. Under the title “Amorphous borders? Conflicts, borders and boundaries within and between the Israeli and Palestinian society”, we facilitated a number of international encounters, political talks and tours and discussion rounds to give an impression of the complexity of our region.
Although 9 days are never enough to answer all the questions, we enjoyed furthering the knowledge of the group during meetings with German diplomats, discussions with trade unions from both sides and tours, and gatherings with activists. We can’t wait to continue our talks and our partnership with the upcoming delegation next year!
How do we learn how to think critically, and how do we teach others to learn how to think critically for themselves? How can we learn how to be in solidarity, and implement liberatory processes within our classrooms, staff meetings, and daily lives, through educational dialogue and creativity?
This 12-week course, Education as a Political Act: Co-Creating New Possibilities, explores the concept of critical pedagogy, created by the great educational philosopher Paulo Freire based upon his book “Pedagogy of the Oppressed,” through experiential and participatory practices of educational dialogue and the expressive arts (aesthetic education), and how to implement these philosophies daily in our work environments, classrooms, and activism.
The class will run from January 2018 – March 2018, once a week at the Willy Brandt Center Jerusalem on Wednesday’s from 17:30-19:30.
To express interest and to request more information, please email Shoshana Gottesman: firstname.lastname@example.org
On occasion of the partners conference 2017 Johanna Uekermann visited the WBC a last time in her position as Juso-chairwoman. After four years of chairmanship Johanna will devote herself to other political challenges. Thank you, Johanna, for four years of committed support and solidarity, thanks for being a partner for peace and social justice!
You always will be welcome at the WBC!
Johannas speech in the full wording (WBC Jerusalem, 19.10.2017):
Dear comrades, dear friends of the Willy Brandt Center,
I am happy, that so many of you have gathered tonight at the place, which has become one of my favorite places to go to over the last years: The Willy Brandt Center. However, the Willy Brandt Center is not only a location, is not only this house: The Willy Brandt Center is a symbol, and an idea of a better future for all of us.
As some of you probably already know, this will be my last delegation to the region as chairwoman of Jusos, although I hope many others will follow, either for private amusement or in other political functions. But I want to take this opportunity to look back and share with you some of my personal impressions and experiences.
In 2016, we celebrated “20 years of the Willy Brandt Center.” It was a time where we looked back to the year 1996, when the Willy Brandt Center was founded. Back then the foundation did not include this wonderful house in Abu Tor. This house became part of the cooperation in 2003. No the Willy Brandt Center was a promise, a promise between the leaders of political youth organizations on an eye-to-eye-level to work together for a better future. A promise built on trust and personal relationships. And this trust, built on personal relationships and mutual understanding is something which has allowed the Willy Brandt Center to exist until today.
I myself look back to several meetings of the kind, where we built trust on a personal level to work together in the political scene. I like to remember a visit to Givat Brenner, the Kibbutz of the by-then chairman of Young Labour Uri Keidar. I like to remember a visit in Silwan, where we were invited by Ahmad to have dinner with him and his family. These are the kind of encounters, where bonds were created between people, which are stronger than the constant dissonances in day-to-day politics. Because this is what in my opinion the Willy Brandt Center is about: There are times of light and times of shadow, but we have always managed to keep our channels open, to communicate in times, where it hardly seemed possible and not to lose our personal bonds.
Dear comrades, the Willy Brandt Center has welcomed many people, people from all over the world, people with different perspectives, people from various political movements. It has seen people with political power and it has seen grassroot-activists coming from Germany to the region for their first time. And all those people are the Willy Brandt Center. Without them, it would not exist. And its existence also depends on the inclusion of new faces, of new people who feel the spirit of the Willy Brandt Center and it include it in their daily political activism. Therefore I look optimistic into the future of the Willy Brandt Center, because I know, and I am very sure about this, the Willy Brandt Center does not depend on single persons, but on the relationships we build on an eye-to-eye level every time we meet. I have built this kind of relationships, which I will hold onto in the future and I am sure the coming generations will do the same.
I want to thank all of you present here and those who cannot be here with us tonight. Have a wonderful evening!