Event Reports

The German Experience

by Veronique Brüggemann

15 young Palestinians in Berlin are looking for inspiration for their own country

In front of the Ring Center, a shopping mall in Berlin Lichtenberg, Palestinians hand out flyers for the Christian Democratic Party (CDU) to passersby. Two of them hold up pictures of the top candidate, a third one takes a picture, giggling. A punk halts and starts to discuss with the candidate, Danny Freymark. Election campaigning was also part of the program of the 15 Palestinian journalists and media professionals who had been invited by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS) to explore Berlin.

“For our campaign, we asked the people about Berlin’s 100 biggest problems and looked for solutions for them”, explains Freymark to the guests, that are standing in front of an election poster. The reaction: “Only 100? I come from a country with 1000 problems!” Also, election campaigning itself is different in Palestine. A booth from which only flyers are being distributed seems to some of them rather spartan. “In our country, they give out money and meat.” For the group, the week started off with many questions. Questions mostly on how politics function in Germany. A few days later, they have turned into experts themselves and use the opportunity in Lichtenberg to ask very specific questions concerning the environment and integration policy. Also, during the breakfast talk with Dr. Gerhard Wahlers the group discusses a lot. But this time, Palestine is the main subject. Dr. Wahlers himself spent several years in the region and is interested in the groups’ assessment of the current situation. But also the group again has many questions to ask – be it at the office of the newspaper Tagesspiegel, at the TV stations RTL and ZDF or at the Chancellor’s office talking to the Deputy Government spokesperson, Sabine Saphörster-Heimbach, the Berlin House of Representatives or the Arab youth club Karame. “Why doesn’t Germany want to support Palestine’s accession to the UN?” And: “Why doesn’t Europe support us more?” “Why is it that the German media reports on Israel are only somewhat critical?” After all, the trip to Berlin for them is about their country, their future.

“I wanted to learn more about the European experience, the integration process” explains Bashar Zaghier. The producer and documentarian studies European Studies. From October, he will study in Düsseldorf for one year. “I am fascinated with Europe, especially because it rose despite all the difficulties it faced after World War II, and look at it now, look at Germany of today.”

The German success story is for Bashar and the others an inspiration, hope that Palestine, too, will make it one day. “What surprised me most is how Germany managed to become such a great country in cultural, economic and political terms, and how it was rebuilt after the complete destruction during the war” says the photographer and producer AlHendi Musleh. “The other thing is how German makes sure that history is not repeated, be it through institutions, culture or education. This is also why there is the federal system which ensures that power is not centralized. I think that this is good.”

Democracy, that is what we want, too, both of them say. Bashar Zaghier opines: “Europe has reached the point where we want to go. We have many big problems; poverty is only one of them. But the Arab world was once one country. Why can we not be like Europe? That is my dream, my hope und after the Arab Spring, I think that it can happen, because people finally stand up for freedom.”

“I hope for a free country. A country not only free of occupation, but where everybody is free, where women can wear whatever they want and where everybody can say what he or she wants to say. Democracy is the most important”, believes AlHendi Musleh. He is optimistic as well. “Here, freedom of speech and press is better protected than it is in our county, even if the situation is better in Palestine than in any other Arab country. But I believe we are on the right track. The Arab revolution shows that no government can any longer dictate to the people what to say and to think.”

Event Reports
July 27, 2011
Wieso? Weshalb? Warum? 15 Palästinenser erkunden Deutschland und stoßen dabei auf viele Fragen (27. Juli 2011)

About this series

The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, its educational institutions, centres and foreign offices, offer several thousand events on various subjects each year. We provide up to date and exclusive reports on selected conferences, events and symposia at www.kas.de. In addition to a summary of the contents, you can also find additional material such as pictures, speeches, videos or audio clips.

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