The participants of the network meeting of the German-Israeli Young Leaders Exchange at the Bertelsmann Stiftung, Gütersloh
© Kai Uwe Oesterhelweg

Network meeting of the German-Israeli Young Leaders Exchange: Adventure – A Journey from Success to Significance

The challenges and chances of digitization and migration for economy and society were the focus of this year’s network meeting of the German-Israeli Young Leaders Exchange “Adventure – A Journey from Success to Significance.”

In mid-October, 120 alumni from business, politics, society and the media convened for the network meeting of the German-Israeli Young Leaders Exchange in Gütersloh and Berlin.

After an introductory workshop at the Bertelsmann Stiftung on the topic “Transformative Challenges of the Future,” the participants completed an intensive program which included visits to Claas, Beckhoff and the Founders Foundation, allowing them to learn about the success factors specific to the region of Eastern Westphalia and the challenges posed by digitization and innovation. In addition, they visited flagship projects focusing on integration in the region such as the Bertelsmann Stiftung’s Lehrkräfte Plus program, which is training refugees to become teachers. The participants were able to experience first-hand how Eastern Westphalia is responding to tomorrow’s challenges.

Thomas Kunsch

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As part of the program in Berlin, the participants met with policy makers from various political parties and with experts for a panel discussion on “Identity, Migration and the Rise of Populism – In Which Society Do We Want to Live?” The question was posed of whether migration is the true cause of the increase in populist parties such as Germany’s AfD and the reason for the fragmentation of the country’s party system and the increasing search for identity, or whether they are the result of globalization. Answers to that question, including concrete solutions, were then discussed at length by the panelists and participants.

The final event was a meeting with Deborah Feldman, author of the book Unorthodox, who took the participants on a very personal journey, giving a vivid description of the path that led her from an ultraorthodox Jewish sect to a life in the secular world. 

The intensive discussions among the young leaders clearly showed how strong the shared interest in the transformative challenges is for both societies. Those challenges include responding to the populism in Israel and Germany and addressing the impact globalization, digitization and migration are having on how we live and work and on social cohesion. The network meeting spontaneously resulted in a German-Israeli working group on the topic of diversity, formed to transfer the ideas from the meeting to the respective working environments, and a joint declaration calling for a cosmopolitan society.

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