German-Israeli Youth Center in Munich Discussed by Ludwig Spaenle

Tue 8th Aug, 2023

Ludwig Spaenle, the Bavarian Commissioner against Antisemitism from the Christian Social Union (CSU), has raised the possibility of Munich becoming the location for the proposed German-Israeli Youth Initiative. Spaenle expressed his openness to the establishment of the initiative in the Bavarian capital, stating that he could "definitely envision" such a development.

The prospect of this initiative stems from the substantial exchange in educational matters between Bavaria and Israel since the early 2010s, according to Spaenle's remarks to the Deutsche Presse-Agentur. He referred to a corresponding agreement signed during his tenure as the Bavarian Minister of Culture with his Israeli counterpart at the time.

Spaenle highlighted the existing connections between Bavarian and Israeli students, in addition to underscoring the move of the Conference of European Rabbis' headquarters from London to Munich.

However, Munich's history is also intertwined with a somber chapter in Israeli history. On September 5, 1972, Palestinian terrorists infiltrated the Olympic Village, resulting in the deaths of two individuals and the subsequent hostage-taking of nine athletes. The latter were tragically killed during a botched rescue attempt at Fürstenfeldbruck Airport.

Recent discussions surrounding the proposed German-Israeli Youth Initiative led Felix Klein, the Federal Government Commissioner for Antisemitism, to express his opposition to the initiative's establishment in Lutherstadt Wittenberg, Saxony-Anhalt. Klein pointed out that a city openly displaying antisemitism, exemplified by the presence of the "Judensau" sculpture on the town's church, cannot be a welcoming place for Jewish Israelis. He stressed that the removal of the antisemitic sculpture must precede any consideration of Wittenberg as the location for the initiative.

Bundesfamilienministerin (Federal Minister for Family Affairs) Lisa Paus of the Green Party had initially agreed upon the creation of the youth initiative in September 2022 with Israel's former Minister of Education, Jifat Schascha-Biton. This collaborative endeavor aims to further expand youth exchanges between the two nations. Wittenberg was under consideration as the site due to the initiative's intended establishment based on the existing coordination offices for youth exchanges in Germany and Israel, with the German office located in Wittenberg.

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