The Course of Histories

The narratives of migrants to Germany regarding Jews, Judaism, Shoah and Israel

The project investigates narratives about Jews, Judaism, Shoah and Israel in the country of origin of immigrants and their respective communities in Germany. The project’s objective is to gain a fundamental understanding of the key themes and make them available for political education.

Contact:

Tanja Lenuweit

t.lenuweit@minor-kontor.de

Timeframe:

01.07.2019- 31.12.2022

Facebook: DerGangderGeschichten

There are many positive and negative narratives about Jews, Judaism, Shoah and Israel in the world. These images result from everyday interactions in the past and present and they are subject to continuous change. They are marked by religious beliefs as well as the (geo-)political and geographic circumstances.

Awareness of these many differing narratives appears to have been overlooked in recent German debates about antisemitism and the arrival of refugees to Germany. Instead, anti-Semitism is imagined to be “imported” by “Muslim immigration”. In these debates, we tend to forget about the diversity of images about Jews, Judaism, the Shoah and Israel in the countries of origin and in migrants themselves. Moreover, pre-existing positions and narratives in Germany get sidelined. It also overshadows narratives in other, mostly non-Muslim groups of immigrants.

The debates about antisemitism have led to a renewed interest in what it is to be Jewish, however, this often remains a perspective from the outside – a speaking about others. Actual Jewish religious, cultural and historic experiences has not been explored. Despite this growing interest, there is a lack of visibility and knowledge about current Jewish life in Germany.

Research & Analysis

The project focuses on the views of immigrants from four specific countries (Syria, Poland, Morocco and Russia), with in-depth research on the narratives about Jews, Judaism, the Shoah and Israel in these countries and their respective communities in Germany. It not only pays attention to antisemitic stereotypes but also to positive images.

Furthermore, the project will evaluate these narratives’ relevance and resonance in German societies, how they change, if and how they connect to pre-existing narratives prevalent in Germany, and finally, which interdependencies occur. In doing so, the project will integrate Jewish perspectives and let Jewish experiences and perceptions of old and new forms of antisemitism be heard.

The project’s overarching objective is to gain a fundamental understanding of the key themes and make them available for political education. The project will draw in experts from the respective countries under consideration to attain a broad knowledge-base so that in-depth discussions are possible and relevant educational material can be developed that is tailored to the aforementioned target groups.

Objectives

“The Course of Histories” has four main objectives:

  1. To identify narratives in immigrant groups about Jews, Judaism, Shoah and Israel.
  2. To analyse their resonance and their interdependencies with pre-existing narratives in Germany.
  3. To give voice to Jewish experiences and perspectives both in the countries of origin and in Germany.
  4. To develop materials for political education to combat antisemitism based on the project’s findings and taking Jewish perspectives into account. The materials will be tailored to the target groups and will therefore support educators to find new ways to handle complex and, oftentimes symbolically charged, multi-perspective discussions.

Timeframe & Output

Until the end of 2020, it will focus on narratives in Syria and Poland, and from 2021 Morocco and Russia will be evaluated.

Over the entire duration the project will facilitate workshops and events to exchange expertise, to bring together experts from different fields, and to develop the educational materials. The project’s output will be published through thematic country profile papers, working papers and educational materials.

The project is under the patronage of the Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs, Heiko Maas.

Funded by:

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