As part of a regular special exchange between young women social-democratic activists from Germany, Palestine and Israel, a Juso Women Delegation, travelled to the region in April to learn and exchange ideas with their counterparts in the Willy Brandt Center. As part of this exchange, the activists met each other for a joint seminar in Givat Haviva. One of the Juso-participants share their experience with us, in the following report.
On Friday noon, we travelled in a mini bus from Jerusalem to Kibbutz Givat Haviva, between Haifa and Tel Aviv, where we met the participants from our partner organisations. This was an opportunity for an intercultural and political exchange with women from our Israeli and Palestinian partner organisations.
We checked in together at the Kibbutz and afterwards played some get together games in a larger seminar room. Just after that, we began with the first workshop phase which was a self-reflection: we were asked to visually outline the women in our families who had the most influence in our lives and made us what we are today. Then, we shared our family stories, especially those about women, in small groups. This activity helped us to learn how multi-facetted women’s roles within a family can be. Finally, we had a joint dinner and finished the evening in a relaxing atmosphere with some wine and other drinks. The Palestinian participants had to leave as they had to go to a family event.
After breakfast on Saturday morning, we started with a detailed reflection about the past few days. As a next step, together with the Israeli participants, we started with some warm-up plays to get to know each other better. One of the Israeli participants provided us with information about what had happened the night before in Syria: the United States, Great Britain and France had bombed several buildings in Syria. She also told us that it was also possible to hear the bombing in several nearby Israeli villages and that it would not be possible to pass the border between Israel and Syria at the moment. Then we continued with a World Café containing three stations: The conflict today, feminist narratives and narratives on the conflict. In my group we discussed about how the Middle East Conflict had been dealt with at school and how the discourse about the conflict is perceived in Israel. The Israeli activist in our discussion group, who lives in Jerusalem, says that she, compared to most Palestinians, can block out this conflict to some extent in her everyday life.
We also discussed why this conflict is present all around the world and why we as Germans are so intensely interested in this topic, even though we are not affected by it. Our Israeli comrade also mentioned that her grandmother, living in Frankfurt /Main, has the impression that many German left-wingers would generally be against Israel and she therefore did not consider herself as a left-winger. She also told us about her time in the army and that her partner (whom she got to know there) was stationed in the Gaza Strip. Later, we focused on Feminist narratives and talked about prostitution. This involved discussing whether prostitution should be legalized (like in Germany) or not (like in Israel). After the workshop, we said goodbye to our partners and continued our trip with the minibus to Tel Aviv.