„From Haifa to Berlin“
In 2010, the one-y ear history project titled “From Haifa to Berlin – Family Fathers Remembering their Stories” was supported by the foundat ion “Remembrance, Responsibility and Future” in the context of (HI)STORIES IN DIVERSITY, a funding programme for a critical exploration of (hi)stories in immigration societies. Among other things, the project’s aim was to enable the participants to come to grips with their own history. The 13 male participants who come from the German-Palestinian community, are between 50 to 65 years of age and grew up in Lebanese refugee camps as a result of what the Palestinians view as Nakba (Arab: catastrophe). The men have been living in Germany with their families since the 1970ies.
The project got started with the documentation of the participants’ life stories. In doing so, the men predominantly focused on their own narrative, their identities and their definition of the term home. Discussed were the highly complex and changeable meanings of “Heimat” (Arabic: watan), heritage and identity conflicts due to the duality between eastern and western culture.
The participants exchanged among each other their individual experiences about being a Palestinian refugee. They acquired historical knowledge in 17 workshops about what influence National Socialism and Holocaust had on the Middle East Conflict, in order to be able to view the collectively experienced expulsion in a broader related context.
The participants travelled to Israel and into the Palestinian Territories/ West Bank. This two week journey was a continuation of the education programme initiated in Berlin. They visited famous cities such as Jerusalem, Ramallah or Haifa, refugee camps in the Palestinian Territories and participated in two workshops on coexistence programmes in Israel. The men’s first encounter was filmed with all that remains of the villages their grandparents and parents once lived.
At the project presentation in May 2011, the project leaders and the participants described their personal experiences and impressions of the joint journey. A short film documentary “From the New Home to the Heritage of the Past” and a brochure presented their life stories and their emotional experiences about the course of the journey.
Facilitators: Mohammed Ibrahim, Shemi Shabat, Trainer for Intercultural Education and Conflict Management; Guy Band, Samuel Schidem, Ufuk Topkara, freelancers at House of the Wannsee Conference und Jewish Museum Berlin as well as Tania Ronen, Beit Lochamei Hagetaot (Ghetto Fighters' House Museum) and Allon Dror, Carmit Matievich, Eshbal Center for Shared Experience
Participants: Mohammed Ibrahim Abdulla, Imad Chaachouh, Abed Darraj, Diab El-Issa, Issam Hamdan, Yasser Hemade, Ahmed Ibrahim, Ahmad Ismail, Mustafa Mahmoud, Issam Mansour, Fuad Zaher, Kayed Zaher
Contributors/ Journey: Frieder Aurin (video and photo documentation,), David Sutherland (photo)
Project Management: Mohamad Zaher, Elisabeth Kahn
Author of the text: Elisabeth Kahn
Photo: Frieder Aurin