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The Special Relationship Between Germany and Israel

A young man at a wall in Jerusalem

German-Israeli relations are facing new challenges. In the past few decades Germany and Israel have developed a strong relationship. Yet it is a relationship that the younger generation no longer accepts as a given. As the Holocaust recedes into history, the majority of Germans no longer feel that Germany has a special responsibility for Israel, a view that is not shared by Israelis. In addition, many Germans see Israel primarily through the lens of current events, especially the conflict in the Middle East. Conversely, many Israelis do not fully appreciate the significance that historical events play in shaping Germany’s political culture.  

German-Israeli relations have also acquired a new dimension thanks to the process of integration taking place in Europe and developments in the Middle East. Germany’s policy vis-à-vis Israel does not exist in a vacuum, but is embedded in Europe’s Middle East policy. The Middle East is of vital importance to the future of Europe, and energy security, migration, security policy and terrorism are challenges facing Europe, Israel and the Arab world alike.

The Bertelsmann Stiftung has been organizing the German-Israeli Young Leaders Exchange since 2000. The exchange is an innovative program designed to promote dialogue and understanding among next generation German and Israeli leaders as a way of laying the foundation for a common future.

Key aspects of the exchange:

  • The program targets young Germans and Israelis leaders from politics, the business community, media and civil society because decision-making and development processes are not limited to individual sectors in highly developed, information-based societies.
  • In addition to a more general segment, each meeting focuses on a specific sector, since direct exchange among professionals is the best method for promoting bilateral cooperation.
  • German and Israelis visit each country together, since only through an in-depth exchange of viewpoints can each side understand the other.
  • Training courses and workshops allow participants to learn new approaches to understanding and conflict resolution (Leadership for Change), since young leaders need to be empowered to initiate and pursue change.
  • Participants create a network of fellows allowing them to meet regularly and initiate joint projects as a way of shaping the future by maintaining contact over the long term.

Participants are recommended by mentors before being selected by the Bertelsmann Stiftung. Candidates may nominate themselves only in exceptional cases.  

Contact Person
Stephan Vopel Stephan Vopel
+49 5241 81-81397
German-Israeli Young Leaders Exchange 2008
Banner German-Israeli Young Leaders Exchange

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Cover: Deutsch-Jüdischer Dialog / German-Jewish Dialogue

Deutsch-Jüdischer Dialog / German-Jewish Dialogue

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