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Having some falafel with a rap star

Germany's Federal Agency for Civic Education has been staging since 1963 successful and imaginative trips of study to Israel.

© Maria Litwa/bpb - Trips of study to Israel

The first of these trips from Germany to Israel was undertaken in 1963, a mere 18 years after the Holocaust. Its participants were carefully selected. Today, 51 years later, the number of participants taking part in the trips to Israel staged for purposes of study by Germany's Federal Agency for Civic Education (whose acronym in German is “bpb”) comes to 7,500. These purposes are highly variegated, and have included “Societal and political debates in Israel in the post-Gaza War era”, “Pop Culture in Israel”, “Israel's film Industry” and “Israel: a land of immigration”. Lectures; excursions; and encounters with orthodox Jews, survivors of the Holocaust, with Arabian-Israeli cultural luminaries, with relatives of the victims of terrorists, with the Israel military, and with Palestinian intellectuals fill the visitors’ days in Israel. The objective is enabling bpb to provide the participants in the trips with a depiction of the complexity characterizing life in Israel. Waltraud Arenz, the staff member at bpb responsible for the  trips, explains her agency's brief. “Our goal is to acquaint participants with the plurality prevailing in Israel and expressing itself in the diversity of controversies, opinions and positions found in the country. The presentation of this plurality permits the participants to convey to the rest of Germany finely-nuanced portraits of Israel.”

Most of these trips last for fourteen days. To optimally and efficiently attain the above-mentioned objective, the trips are exclusively targeted at multipliers in the areas of political education and at other opinion leaders. Comprised in this designation are teachers and, as well, creators and users of media and of other cultural offerings. As Arenz explains: “Our trips of study to Israel supply their participants with a unique opportunity to gain an overview of the current states of Israel’s society and politics. This overview is gained in a relatively short period of time, and involves the communicating with the persons endorsing and advocating positions comprising current debates.” These trips offer such exceptional experiences as going clubbing in Tel Aviv with a big-time Israeli rapper. This is then followed by the eating of falafel at the rapper's snack bar. The plenitude of such unusual experiences is the reason for the popularity enjoyed by bpb's trips to Israel.

Multipliers will continue to be able in 2015 to apply for berths on such trips. Among the trips to be staged by bpb to Israel in 2015 will be those dedicating themselves to Israel’s culture of remembrance, to its foreign and security policies (for journalists), and to its “young society”. The latter is intended for young multipliers. These are to be active in education of the young, and in exchanges involving them. The latter trip is being staged in cooperation with ConAct, which is the center of coordination of exchanges among youth in Germany and in Israel. The 50th anniversary of German-Israeli diplomatic relations is serving as occasion for a further trip.