The German-Israeli relationship is quite complex. Also the opening panel yielded that. Actors from the German-Israeli sphere came together and gave very personal insights into what the relationship between the two countries means to them.
Challenges: ‘65 – The Beginning of Diplomatic Relations
“Establishing diplomatic relations 50 years ago was not an easy thing to do”, Shimon Stein, the former Israeli Ambassador to Germany said. Even though he was very young then, he remembers that the Israeli society was divided on that matter. “There were some demonstrations”.
Keren Pardo, an Israeli educator who was born when bilateral relations had already been improving is optimistic: “After such a trauma to both societies, we are now in a healing process and already celebrating 50 years of diplomatic relations. It shows that every conflict can be overcome.”
Change process in both societies
These mixed feelings also showed in Nava Semel’s statements. The Israeli author compared Germany to god Janus who has one face towards the past and another one facing to the future. She felt ashamed as a child when her parents spoke German at home and could even recite Schiller and Goethe. She recalls the days in Israel that anything that considered a threat to the Israeli ethos was strongly denied, “and so German became her ‘secret’ mother language” to which she only found back years longer.
The way Israeli sees Germany has changed over the years. “In the past, Israelis would ask me ‘what is there for you in Berlin?’ Now when I come back to Israel, they ask ‘how could you leave Berlin?’”, mentioned educator Pardo. It is because during the past few years, Berlin has attracted more and more young enthusiastic Israelis.
A brighter future
The panel members were asked about how they see the future relations between the two states. Irith Gabrielli talked about the importance of continuing Youth Exchanges. “The more personal the relations will get, the less hatred and ignorance will be there”
Kerstin Griese, German parliament member, is driven to take an active part in shaping the mutual future. Germany should help establish peace in the Middle East because of the firm relations between the two countries. “The German economy “, she added, “should know Tel Aviv’s great potential as a ‘Hot-Spot’ for entrepreneurs.” She believes Tel Aviv can become the next Silicon valley thanks to the great power of inventions and creativity of the Israelis.