On July 13, 2016 the coordination team of Living Diversity in Germany and Israel had the pleasure to welcome the advisory council for the first meeting in Tel Aviv. The professional bilateral council consists of 12 chosen members from Germany and Israel, each of them experts in their field. They came together to discuss and examine aspects of diversity in both countries and exchange their views and expertise on democracy-promoting education.
In an open atmosphere the members of the council showed great interest in the individual experiences, rich background and working aspects that each of them brought in this meeting.
On the Israeli side we had the pleasure to attend the lecture of Mr. Iddo Felsenthal who introduced the advisory council to the main aspects of multiculturalism and diversity education in the Israeli society. Dealing with diversity is today more than ever a major topic in education and youth work in Israel, a country with rich and diverse religious, cultural and ethnic landscape. “There is always diversity. There is always an Other” explained Mr. Felsenthal while emphasizing on the importance of trust when working and living together with people who carry different backgrounds and views.
On the German side Mrs. Žaklina Mamutovič, anti-bias and diversity educator, presented the diversity concept in Germany as well as introduced the team to anti-bias education as a model that supports embracing differences and confronting prejudices and discrimination. “The values of acknowledging and respecting differences should be incorporated in a larger scale and not only in one activity. They should be implemented in all the life activities of society” mentioned Žaklina Mamutovič, explaining that we need more empathetic approaches to the issue of diversity.
In the second part of the bilateral meeting the members of the advisory council exchanged short inputs on diversity in their respective organizations and projects. The Israeli participants had the chance to learn about the work of the German organizations “Kreuzberger Initiative gegen Antisemitismus” (Kreuzberg Initiative Against Anti-Semitism) which creates educational programs against anti-Semitism among Muslims in Berlin and “Dialog macht Schule” (Dialog at School) which promotes dialogue culture between school children and encourages their participation in the society. On the Israeli side the participants were introduced to the topic of Diversity from the Perspective of Handicapped People as well as to the discourse of Identity in the Ethiopian Jewish Community in Israel. The presentation of these projects inspired further discussions and ideas on strategies in order to counter discrimination and promote inclusion in youth work between the two countries.
This fruitful meeting was an important milestone for the further implementation of the project. The theoretical exchange but also the presentation of current projects in the field of diversity conscious education and youth work in both countries clarified the goals of the advisory council which will meet two more times in the next two years in order to monitor and give further insight into new practices and concrete methods which shall be used in the next steps of the project.
With the wish to multiply the important stories, personal experiences, perspectives and suggestions that were gathered during this meeting we are grateful for the contribution and look forward to the next meeting of the advisory council in Germany.