Amid Pressions, Goethe-Institut to Hold Panel Discussing Holocaust Alongside the Nakba

After criticism from Israeli officials, Zionist organizations and Fascist group
Im Tirzu, the Goethe-Institut Israel on Tuesday postponed an upcoming event, “Grasping the Pain of the Others – Panel Discussion on the Holocaust, Nakba and German Remembrance Culture,” which had been set to take place in Tel Aviv on Wednesday evening — the 84th anniversary of Kristallnacht. The new date for the event in Tel Aviv is Sunday, November 13. The fascist Im Tirzu movement announced that it would be holding a protest against the event outside the offices of the Goethe Institute in Tel-Aviv.

The Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass, November 9, 1938 (Photo: Yad Vashem)

Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass, took place on November 9, 1938, when Nazi forces and German civilians attacked synagogues and Jewish businesses, likely killing hundreds.

“The remembrance of the Shoah and the commemoration of the victims is a major concern of the Goethe-Institut, to which we devote ourselves in numerous projects,” the institute said in a German-language statement. “We regret that the choice of date for a panel discussion has currently caused irritation.”

The panel, organized in conjunction with the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation’s Israel office, features two Israeli academics and German journalist Charlotte Wiedemann

“Almost 75 years after the establishment of the State of Israel, remembrance remains a politically controversial area,” said the institute in a description of the event on its website. “The Jews focus on the Holocaust, while the Palestinians focus on the fateful year 1948, when hundreds of thousands of them were victims of flight and deportation by Jewish fighters, a year known in Arabic as the ‘Nakba’ (disaster).” 

At the event, journalist Charlotte Wiedemann, Bashir Bashir, associate professor of Political Theory at the Open University of Israel, Amos Goldberg, associate professor of Holocaust History and Director of the Research Institute for Contemporary Judaism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Inge Gunther, a journalist covering Israeli and Palestinian affairs, are set to discuss Wiedemann’s book “Grasping the Pain of the Others.”

Wiedemann’s book asks readers for a “new empathetic remembrance that does justice to different sides and promotes solidarity instead of victim competition. With regard to commemoration practices in Germany, she is convinced that an awareness of the colonial crimes of the imperial era must be developed, and that this does not call into question the uniqueness of the Holocaust.”