BDS IN THE PEWS
Remembrance, Responsibility and Future (EVZ) and Europeans for Peace
October 24, 2011
Background for EFP and EVZ
- Europeans for Peace (EFP) is a program of the foundation Remembrance, Responsibility and Future (EVZ), and claims to encourage “active engagement of young people in society which is based on historical awareness.”
- Since 2005, the EFP program has funded projects with a total of €4.25 million.
- “The Foundation’s capital of EUR 5.2 billion was provided by the German Government and German industry. A total of EUR 358 million was set aside as Foundation capital in order to finance project support. The Foundation finances its long-term funding activities out of the income generated by this capital.”
Human Rights – Rights of Occupation
- In March – July 2011, EFP financed an exchange program, titled “Human Rights – Rights of Occupation,” with German (Anne Frank School in Gütersloh) and Palestinian (School of Hope in Ramallah) students.
- While some of the Palestinian participants questioned “whether the Holocaust had really happened to that extent,” the main focus was devoted to alleging Israeli violations and immorality, not on Holocaust education.
- In July 2011, the Anne Frank School hosted Hajo Meyer, a Holocaust survivor and anti-Israel activist. In his presentation, Meyer referred to the “criminal state of Israel.” He also “wanted to express that many Jews today feel that no one else suffered like them during the Holocaust which makes them blind for the suffering of the Palestinians under the occupation.”
- Meyer also commented “that it is criminal to abuse the Holocaust for political goals like some people do when they oppress criticism against Israeli policy with this argument.”
- In April 2011, the German students met with Farida Amad during a visit to the “women’s society Inash-Il-Osra” in Al Bireh. She said, emphasizing the Palestinian narrative of rejectionism, “Maybe we can’t liberate Palestine in fifty, eighty or a hundred years, but I’m a hundred percent convinced that there will be a time when we get it back.”
- In a news article about the project, director of the School of Hope Michael Abufazaleh described Ramallah as “not only difficult, but  simply hell.”
- As part of this program, the German students concentrated “on article 17 of the UN Human Rights Charter of 1948 in which the right to ‘own property by yourself as well as together with others’ was established. The German students have discovered and documented through conversations with victims, lawyers, human rights workers and peace activists, whether, that and how the State of Israel violates this right.”
- During an August 2011 meeting with the mayor of Gütersloh, the students “discussed the question what our responsibility for the German past means and if it doesn’t implicate that we need to criticize all human rights violations, no matter who commits them.”
- Palestinian students also met with German politicians from Free Democratic Party, Socialist Party of Germany, and Christian Democratic Union Party.
- In 2009, EFP sponsored a program called “1948,” a project where “Palestinian and German youth investigate images of friends and enemies in the media (feature films) about the era of the establishment of the State of Israel,” in cooperation with Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hope in Ramallah.
- The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hope in Ramallah is part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and The Holy Land (ELCJHL). ELCJHL supported the Kairos Palestine document, which calls for BDS (boycotts, divestment, and sanctions) against Israel and denies the Jewish historical connection to Israel.
EVZ/EFP and the HEAR Project
- In 2010-2011 the EFP donated €21,590 for The HEAR project, an exchange program between the Gerhart-Hauptmann high school in Germany and the Masar Institute for Education in Nazareth. (Masar is registered as an Israeli Amuta [#580341873] and received $318,152 from the Welfare Association in 2007-2009.)
- The stated aim of the HEAR project was to bring together “German and Israeli youth” in order to “jointly address the question in how far concrete human rights are realized or damaged in the structure of the education.”
- The project resulted in a brochure published by EVZ, equating Israel with the defunct East German Stalinist state, and included crude drawings of Orthodox Jewish students. The document depicted Israel as a violent state with an education system that excludes and oppresses Arab pupils.” (Jerusalem Post, September 28, 2011).
- The brochure consistently refers to “Jews,” not Israelis.
- In one of the drawings depicts a “Jewish School” with smiling students in a spacious and classroom, with an open window and what seems to be a map of the world in the back. It is juxtaposed with a classroom with a (broken) sign reading “Palestine School.” The room is densely filled with sad looking students, covered in cobwebs; the windows had bars on them.
- Another drawing, stacks of paper labeled “Jew” are situated near similar stacks, in chains, labeled “Palestine.” The “Jew” stacks appear to be “occupying” the “territory” of the “Palestine” stacks.
- In response to criticism, an EVZ official admitted that the brochure contained “visual elements that could be interpreted as antisemitic stereotypes,” but denied that they were “antisemitically motivated.”
- The Israeli project-coordinator, an employee of the Masar Institute who previously partnered with EFP when she lived in Germany, Naomi Friedman-Sokuler, denied that the program “was anti-Israeli or antisemitic in any way.”
- There is no detailed description of the program, however, according to the brochure “when the Germans came to Nazareth, we visited an organization called Zokhrot [sic]. We learned a lot of new information about the lands that the Palestinians no longer posses due to the Jewish occupation” (emphasis added) – referring to territory within the State of Israel.
- Zochrot is an Israeli NGO established in order to “raise public awareness of the Palestinian Nakba…. (and) In recognizing and materializing the right of return.... the rights of the refugees to return must be accepted.” The group runs tours “intended to teach the country’s history and geography in the context of what happened here in 1948” and work towards “implementing the return.” Zochrot also accuses Israel of “ethnic cleansing” and “forcible displacement and dispossession of the Palestinian people.”
EFP and the Willy Brandt Center Jerusalem
- According to a radio broadcast (September 2008) concerning its activities in Israel, EFP collaborates with the Willy Brandt Center (WBC) in Jerusalem.
- The Willy Brandt Center was co-founded by “German Jusos [Youth Wing of the Socialist Party], the Palestinian Shabeebat Fateh, and the Israeli Mishmeret Tseirah shel Mifleget Ha-Avodah in 1996 [Labor Party Youth Faction].” The center claims to “enable equal encounters between German, Israeli, and Palestinian youth and young adults.”
- The Support Association Willy Brandt Center Jerusalem is “the responsible body of the WBC in Jerusalem” and its main tasks “is lobby work for the project in Germany, the application for financial support of projects…arrange contacts between European, Israeli, and Palestinian partners and institutions….supports educational journeys and trips of delegations, especially with a social democratic background.”
- Among others, WBC partners include the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation, Fatah and the International Union of Socialist Youth.
- As part of its “Red Lounge” project, WBC organized activities in cooperation with Zochrot, Machsom Watch and Ir Amim.
- WBC was involved in the “Peace, Pluralism and Social Justice” alternative birthright tour, an initiative of the New Israel Fund (NIF) and Union of Progressive Zionists (UPZ). Hosted meetings between the participants of the tour and Breaking the Silence and Young Fatah.
- A future joint EVZ and WBC project is scheduled to take place in Jerusalem and in Berlin in 2012.