After a bilateral professional exchange program which took place in Berlin in August 2016 and a fruitful conference in November in Lutherstadt Wittenberg the members of the advisory council met for the 2nd time to reflect on the development of the project so far and discuss new possibilities for action for the coming year.
Starting with a thorough reflection on the conference “Living Diversity in Germany and Israel – Challenges and Perspectives for Education and Youth Exchange” the members of the council evaluated the highlights of the program and discussed those elements which need to be further developed. They all agreed on the necessity to further promote the importance of joint work on identity and diversity issues not only in young groups between both countries but also within the – what only seems as – homogenous ethnic groups themselves. The distance between Germany and Israel is shorter than the distance between North Tel Aviv and South Tel Aviv as Ron Zohar of the Israeli Scouts (Hazofim) pointed out. He explained that the encounters of young people during a youth exchange are a first-hand opportunity not only to interact with youth from the other country but also to reflect upon their own identity, narrative and convictions within their respective ethnic, religious or cultural group. Additionally, Doron Kiesel, director of the educational department of the Central Council of Jews in Germany referred to similar experiences with groups of young Germans who visit Israel: The goal of the German-Israeli relations is not to solve the Israeli or the German issues. Nevertheless the encounters between the two main groups enable further encounters between the different factions within each society.Another aspect which was discussed in this meeting was the strategies in order to empower the participation of groups from both societies which were considered to be underrepresented in the conference. Here belong groups such as people with disabilities or special needs, as well as people with diverse political or ideological views.
Concluding, the last part of the meeting was dedicated to exchanging expertise and suggestions in order to improve the aspect of networking between the German and Israeli organizations which participate in the project and promote long-term cooperation and expansion in a broad and rich landscape of youth projects, organizations and initiatives between the two countries.