Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Revisting 5th of May 2000 by Hatto Fischer


Acropolis between the trees


Basic idea and concept for the gathering in Athens

When gathering in Athens, then surely the presence of the Acropolis can be felt. For that is concrete evidence of more than 2000 years of history. More so even if left incomplete, but being restored by Korres and others, that allows a practical understanding between part and whole as something going beyond daily life. As such the Acropolis ensures a continuity in thought. Zbigniew Herbert gave an excellent historical account how layer after layer was taken down by various souvenir hunters, Lord Elgin included. Once up there, on that mount, it is possible to overlook the entire city. And all the more so other thoughts come since up there exists a poetic ground. What is it that allowed the Ancient Greeks to reflect the light? What does it mean to the present when looking at such an edifice? For sure, it expresses a vision for 2000 years and more ahead.

Naturally the wish to hold at the beginning of the new millennium a conference in Athens with the aim to mark the 5th of May 2000 as 'Day of Culture - Freedom of Expression and Dialogue' was not easy to realize. For one, the University of Athens where the conference was held, proved to stifle rather than encourage free expressions and dialogue. Perhaps this is due to the largely ceremonial setting and one wonders how come universities have come down with such a pompous and largely ceremonial symbolic?

But then there was that special year of 2000 much distraction elsewhere. For instance, the European Commission had selected for that special year not two or three, but nine cities to be in that year European Capitals of Culture. No wonder that when Bob Palmer, first in charge of Glasgow when ECoC in 1990 and now of Brussels, was asked what would be the contribution of Brussels 2000 on that day, he answered cautiously:

"that there will take place a few events around which Brussels will concentrate efforts. But we must be very practical and certainly realistic in what can be achieved. There are hundres of initiatives all year round in Brussels concentrating on the theme of freedom of expression, and many organisations committed to this cause. However, most cannot (and do not wish to) be involved in the specific project of 5 May for many different reasons...So let us not be too ambitious. The initiative is a small beginning, if it works, it can be developed in future years."

(Bob Palmer, Letter to Spyros Mercouris Brussels, 4/19/2000)

The reason for Bob Palmer assuming such a careful position can be better understood when reading the report "European Cities of Culture for the Year 2000" by Giannalia Cogliandro . Giannalia Gogliandro was herself assisting at that time Bob Palmer and she was equally the General Secretary of the AECC Association. This organization was designed to bind together the nine cities which were in that year European Capitals of Culture but that proved according to her to be no easy task.

As this was not enough, there was as well the matter of how the ECCM network was perceived - in her report Giannalia Cogliandro uses the term 'old hands'. As such it implied something derogative and as if outdated or redundant. It became a full blown issue once Liverpool 2008 and Ruhr 2010 decided to leave the ECCM network, in order to set up an 'informal network'. They did so with the claim that such an informal network was more efficient since no longer dominated by the 'old guys' who just wanted to heap still further praise as to what they had done in the past. All this matters as to how the overall legacy of European Capitals of Culture is treated by successive cities who become ECoCs. Whether formal or informal, the nature of any network has to treasure the experiences made by past cities, be innovative in the relationship towards the current cities and help shape the programmes of the future ECoCs.

By 2010 the ECCM network had folded and nothing replaced it to ensure a continuity between former, current and future ECoCs. The damage created by the European Commission deciding to go ahead and appoint nine cities for one year, and later two a year or even three as in the case of 2010 meant increasing the pressure on any network to get things done rather than being preoccupied with how to preserve the past and the legacies of those cities which had their turn already. A lot of apprehension altered the focus as to what was needed, and in particular the trend was not towards Europe but as Bob Scott, key person for Liverpool 2008 and later on chairman of the selection committee of ECoC cities for three years, put it, each city "has to be the representative of its nation and therefore cannot be a border city." Along with the re-nationalization trend and informalization of any networking meant weakening the commitment to both Europe and its cultural development.

Naturally the ECCM Network under the honorary presidency of Spyros Mercouris had put forth a powerful argument when addressing Commissioner Romano Prodi why this event on the 5th of May 2000, and this despite there being nine European Capitals of Culture in that year:

"Our Network decided that it is not possible to celebrate the new Millennium without culture being given its proper due. We therefore resolved to have a "Day of Culture - Freedom of Expression and Dialogue", which is to take place on 5th of May 2000. This Day of Culture is conceived as a major European event. At a time when we give such overriding emphasis to matters that relate to technology and the economy, the Day of Culture is intended to show that the exchange of ideas and communications between citizens and societies in Europe is more important than ever. It helps to make people be aware of the importance of culture for the development of societies and to understand that culture is not an abstract notion of interest only to intellectuals and to a fraction of society. It will bring together for the first time the cultural communities of the participating cities on a scale never seen before. A large public will be shown high quality spectacles in conditions of free expression, producing art with entertainment and education, and strengthening opportunities for dialogue between the people of Europe." (Letter from Spyros Mercouris and Simon Beck, ECCM Network to Commissioner Romano Prodi, 2000)

5th of May

The 5th of May is there to remind about the past and to be visionary for the future.

The 5th of May is in the Netherlands a national holiday for it reminds of liberation day from National-socialist occupation back in 1945. Hence to enlarge on this by declaring the day to be one of culture means to remind what cultural efforts are needed to go beyond 'barbarism' and what 'memories' are to be passed on to future generations.

There is a general dilemma with regards to those memorial days throughout Europe. Germany holds remembrance day on 27th of January, the day when the surviving prisoners were liberated from Birkenau-Auschwitz and which has become the day to remember the Holocaust.

On the other hand, France holds its national memorial day to mark the end of Second World War on May 8th.

Surely a unification of Europe around one date - Belgium has marked Nov. 11th to remember the end of First World War - would be one cultural task, so that all would experience at the same time a similar flow of emotions when remembering not merely the dead, but those who were killed for being upright, resisters, courageous. It cannot be while France remembers the end of Second World War, Germany treats that day as ordinary working day. Naturally the victor remembers the end of war differently from the one who had to surrender. But the end of war is too important. It should not be forgotten.

Interestingly enough in Greece most memorial days are linked to the beginning of war and not to its end.

The question of Bob Palmer remains to date unanswered for what has become of the 5th of May as a Day of Culture?

According to Wikipedia, the 5th of May is remembered because of following things happening on that day over time and in history:



Demo in Athens

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_5


Freedom of Expression

The 5th of May as Day of Culture - Freedom of Expression and Dialogue was organized by the ECCM Network since people in Europe and elsewhere faced at the start of the new millennium the risks of new forms of censorship.

Alone the power of the media, a constant theme and concern for the philosopher Jürgen Habermas, meant a growing potential to eradicate the basis of all freedom and democracy in Western society, namely a viable public opinion sustained by lively debates and good journalism. Always the free press faced curtailments of all kinds. In Greece, the media had to be rebuilt after the fall of the military dictatorship, and indeed some outstanding journalism did manage to bring about a different view of the world, but too often the media came under the control of single owners or business interest interwoven with politics. Moreover Greece showed the typical deficit of being an either family or party orientated society with hardly public spaces accessible for people to discuss independently from the influence of these two major factors. If that is the case, then political truth and honesty no longer matter, but connections. Even worse is when the sole interest prevails that "the spectacle continues" (Umberto Eco made this statement about political affairs in Italy - note: Umberto Eco was involved in Bologna 2000 by having joined the Netmage project ) for especially one man, namely Berlusconi, uses his influence and money to galvanize public opinion in just this one direction. Politics is then degraded to just another way to get favourable business deals. That is a long way off the famous line in Pericles famous funeral speech, when he said Athens would not need armies to protect itself, but rather 'active citizenship'.

The reign of powers vary, but surely one of most worrying signs is the neglect of a differentiated culture. As this leads more and more to a loss of memory and wise, equally practical judgements due to a media led type of discourse, politics seems no longer to matter in terms of 'public truth'. Rather the private deals matter more. Such wheeling and dealing no allows for any public debate even though that would be needed to validate policy measures. Even the function of the European Parliament as forum to discuss pending laws prior to their implementations seems to have lost that purpose. Instead MEPs would act out this kind of cultural schizophrenia as Simon Mundy would coin it, by talking internationally when in Brussels, but only geared towards local and popular interests back home. And surely in the various committees other members would turn off, literally speaking, when the Greek MEP would again just vent his anger on how Greek fishers or Greek farmers were treated, for it meant there was no way to link the various interests and still have Europe as a whole in mind.

To remind 2000 was clearly the start of Prodi as President of the European Commission. Under him ethical concerns were evident and that meant a definite link to the Bologna school of thought as well as to constitutional lawyers ready to take up a major cause for Europe, namely the drafting of an EU Constitutional Treaty. But as everyone knows that treaty was not ratified in 2005 due to first France, then Holland saying 'no' and England then no longer bothering to put the matter to a vote. Consequently within five years the European Union and its institutions had lost their 'moral' legitimacy. And more so already back in 2000 or more clearly in 1999 there set in something what many called the 're-nationalization' of European programmes and eventually of all decision making processes. This became fully evident on how the Euro crisis and linked to that the deficit crisis of states like Greece were dealt with, namely national political leaders imposing via the EU mechanisms their views as to what measures should be taken to consolidate state budgets and thereby the European financial system interlinked with the global system. To the latter Michael D. Higgins spoke on the 5th of May in a most clear manner but naturally the underlying tendencies of what crisis would await especially Greece was not known at that time. Greece entered the Euro only in 2001 under the Semitis government and from then on went on a spending spree regardless as to where all the money spend on consumer things would come from.

To return to the importance of 'public debate', it is a crucial matter what needs to be known prior to pending decisions, and this in view of what policy options are available. In 2000 the world had not crushed as of yet literally with the destruction of the Twin Towers in New York on 911 just one prime example as to what can alter the paradigm of politics. From a world which had stepped out of the Cold War era into a new one marked by a 'permanent war against terrorism' (Rumsfeld) 2000 seems in retrospect to have been just a short breather before the world was again engulfed not in peace but in war. And even that is not true for the bombardment in Kosovo in 1999 had already terminated a post war Western Europe freed from war. If that war in former Yugoslavia was the result of a failed diplomacy with Albright as Secretary of State seeking some kind of answer to her former home, that cannot be fully known. Still, war is a coercive force and culture its very opposite since based on the prime task of starting and staying in dialogue for it is better to talk with each other rather than to fight one another till the bitter end, that is when no longer any redemption seems ever to be conceivable. That is the risk of Syria in 2013.

Perhaps the speech by Bernhard Beutler was the main indication of culture being squeezed out by modern communication means. Instead of bringing relief, so he notes, the internet and the flood of emails made the personal burden of administrative work when it comes to handle the flood of information that much more cumbersome. By the same token, it could be noticed around that time politicians would no longer read more than three lines and forget even to dwell on deeper texts so as to root their arguments for public debate on the joy of finding the right word, a good formulation, a further going thought. Instead they contributed towards the tendency to have real information being replaced by sensational and provocative types of 'breaking news'. All their interest was whether or not their advisers could deliver them with snappy statements which would catch the eye or ear but like advertisement, they had to be sound bites or messages capable of being brought across in three minutes at the most. For all realized the world had become a fast consuming one of news being chased by ever new news so that already five minutes later the new was nearly forgotten.

As all of these tendencies subscribes politics to a kind of drama, it follows that most of the time any public statement was highly distortive at the same time of both the content or issue at hand and more so of the context within which it could be resolved. Typical was the description of politicians being like blood hounds for once they had licked the first blood, they became thirsty for more and that meant they were clearly on the look out for the first sign of weakness in order to pounce on it and tear it apart as if a piece of meat thrown into the den of hungry wolves.

Subsequently most of the time things were dealt with by immature and quick upstart political stars who had made their name on talk shows and thus were thought to be influential just because they were known i.e. had a name. That was especially for the Greens one of the major pitfalls. Equally in contradiction to the sensational style which copies talk shows, once things are under crisis, then another mode would kick in. For that mode would favor secrecy due to security concerns and therefore deal with crucial things mainly behind closed doors. It was an amazing contradiction with politicians advocating more participation by citizens while at the same time they heated up the crisis mode. The latter favours clearly hierarchical structures and even the Greens in the European Parliament forget their original principle of all being equal. With time the structures of inequality molded and shaped their organization and subsequently the minds of their politicians and advisers. That meant as political consequence most of the time the working out of solutions stayed outside the realm of political dialogue.

At that time of the 5th of May a major concern was what was happening in Austria. Equally developments in Iran with regards to the handling of opposite, liberal and critical press along with writers and human rights activitists became a major concern as a new wave of repression swept that country.

The ECCM Network wishes by declaring the 5th of May as Day of Culture based on freedom of expression and dialogue wishes to sensitive through the conference in Athens and the actions in the participating cities all about the values of democracy. They are not self-understand and a continual effort must be made to uphold these values.

Culture based on freedom of expression and dialogue is needed above all in order to stay in touch with reality. It means taking the Ancient Greek democratic principle, namely that we can agree to disagree, one step further by engaging ourselves with those with whom we disagree and thereby adopt a realistic attitude in order to discover jointly why there is a disagreement. It means in turn the cultural consensus required to support the European integration process is a prerequisite to get the concept for this project right. As Kant would say, if the other does not understand our idea of Europe, then surely we have not as of yet found the right idea. Disagreement allows therefore for acknowledge of error, contradiction, flawed knowledge and gives space for further improvement in the knowledge we seek in order to govern our common affairs. This then is the basis for the strongest possible endorsement of the EU Constitution still to be written and ratified by all Europeans independent from member states and their institutions but also vested interests in only a certain power sharing form of common governance.

In search for a new symbol of freedom

A symbol of freedom - the Olive tree to be found on a former parking spot now a park in Exarchia, Athens 2012


To find a new symbol for freedom of expression, that depends itself upon a variety of cultural spaces being made available. They are needed in order to hear and to discuss different opinions. A strong advocate of this is Michael D. Higgins.

Despite being a difficult topic, nevertheless it became evident that both the speakers, in particular Terry Carlbom, and the programmes of the participating city gave a clear idea as to what is meant when referring to such a term.

The importance is not to claim merely to be a free and open society, but to really practice this in terms of allowing for free speech. Since the Free Speech Movement which started in Berkeley, California and then swept across the globe as part of the Student Movement, it meant as well to question the older generations for staying silent about what had happened in the past and in the present. In Germany, this entailed discussing openly why the Holocaust could happen; in the United States there was naturally at the forefront of everybody's mind in 1967-68 the war in Vietnam. Out of both strands there emerged a struggle for a 'free conscience' and included one important insight in terms of the constitution the Institute for Science of Religion at the Free University in Berlin had adopted, namely the need to protect the individual against group terror. The reverse of that is not merely conformity, but what Adorno would call "an avalanche of stupidity" if everyone would adopt the same attitude.

In the United States that is similar to lynch justice with everyone in the community believing this person is guilty and should be hanged. Slawomir Grünberg managed with his video documentation about one sixteen year old girl charged with man slaughter after having allowed a two year old baby which she was attending to die due to suffocation since remaining inside an overheated house. The mother in this case had refused to let her daughter be recognized and categorized as 'mentally handicapped'. She wanted her to be perceived as if 'normal' and did so in order to avoid the stigma of having such a daughter. The original ruling was overturned after the court allowed for the first time a video presentation about the girl which Slawomir Grünberg made and which allowed the Jury to form an own opinion about the mental state of that girl. Freedom of expression does entail this possibility of showing as well the other side of the picture.

By 2000 these two aspects had converged in Europe with the peace and eco movement able to hieve the Greens into political institutions and thereby allowing for the first time other questions to be posed. Yet it was clear as they became an established party, they lost sight of the need to retain the freedom of expression. Instead they became dominated at European level by such a shrill figure as Daniel Cohn Bendit who would continue to be the symbol of the Student Revolt, but in reality was very well adapted to the system. In Germany, Joschka Fischer had made it by 2000 to become even Foreign Minister but it meant also him agreeing to the bombardment of Kosovo and which he tried to justify thereafter as a humanitarian intervention to stop genocide from going any further. He simply missed the point that no war can ever be justified. At the same time, he made sure that only persons who agree with them advanced within the party and managed to get into lucrative posts. If that is not a copy of a system which rewards the brave soldier Schweik (Svejk) and punishes the dissident, what is?

Quite another symbol of freedom was Steve Biko in South Africa. He died in jail in 1977 but the ANC had used his image in the first free, non racial election of 1994. Ever since freedom of expression is also related very much to Nelson Mandela. How things stand today not only in South Africa, but throughout Africa, there is a telling account by playwright Mike van Graan about why artists are still shot or plays censored? If anything, theatre is a space for reflection and it is most telling if in Rwanda the issue of genocide can still not be played out on open stage.

All this is to say that any young person growing up in such a European society shall learn very quickly that 'freedom of expression' is not really existing, but only possible within certain limitations. In German there exists this double sense of 'Einschränkungen' (curtailments) - 'Beschränkungen' (limitations). Already the nineteenth century showed a clever way to denounce ideas which could potentially question the system as not being 'reasonable', but rather 'insane'. This dichotomy between reason and 'insanity' Michel Foucault attempted to overcome when he wrote the history of psychiatry, but his message about possible humanist reforms in that direction was clear. For they would usually end up in a new contradiction.

The example Foucault gives with regards to Dr. Pinel is quite simple. When Pinel arrives at the psychiatric hospital and sees a man in chains screaming his head off and thereby scaring everyone the moment he rattles his chains, he orders the staff to take off those chains. Since they are most afraid, he assures them nothing will happen, provided they abide one simple instruction of his, namely once the chains are taken off, not to give any feed-back to this man. And so it happens. The chains are taken off and within two weeks that person who used to frighten others and thereby gained his identity had no longer the means to do so, namely the chains. He was imprisoned by the silence of the others.

Call it norms, conditions, prevailing circumstances, etc. censorship, always a combination of direct and indirect limitations of freedom of expression curtail works. Often it is done in a direct and crude way like firing the person. Jews would be unable to print their speeches once no longer working in institutions but had become street cleaners. In other cases, it can also be reinforced in a highly suggestive way. When Ulrich Beck in his dissertation about the so-called Normativity (Objectivity) in science writes about one scientist who is engaged in a comprehensive research about how deeply the trade unions are involved not in social issues, but literally in racketeering, censorship comes in the form of suggestion. For once trade unionists catch a wind of there being a scientist who is beginning to look a bit too closely for comfort at their doings, they call the director of the institute where the scientist does his research. In turn, the director calls the scientist in question into his office and they have a discussion about how his dissertation is going. The director plays as if really interested and he even shows an amazement to what extent the thesis has become complex and ever more broadening out to capture many more aspects, indeed even bringing to light many details not known until now about trade unions. The scientist almost forgets himself when narrating what he has been discovering as of late. At that point the director intervenes and tells him what he is doing sounds really fascinating but is he not at risk to make the dissertation a bit too complex. Would it not be better and more practical to cut it down in size, for after all he has but two more years to go and then his scholarship will run out. So the director recommends and gets the scientist to agree to cut out this part and to only treat that aspect in the introduction while concentrating on that particular isse the trade union had to resolve when that one wage strike was going on. It is always good to include a case study. In the end, so the conclusion of Ulrich Beck, is that the persuasion tactic of the director acts like a censorship insofar as the complexity and the deeper involvement of the trade union is never touched upon.

Likewise the EU evaluators do the same with European projects to be funded. Things are reduced to what is manageable and this means at least one outcome can be secured, namely a 'Good Practice Manual'. That is the best method to cut things down to size and never to let the complexity of reality come alive. The latter risks to over demand those who deal with EU programmes and EU funded projects only in manageable categories. Everything else is left out.


There prevailed at that time some questions which were linked to philosophical discussions and reflections. For instance, dialogue with reality meant always staying in touch with what was happening around you and in the world, and even if you would not agree, it meant not to negate the existence of that 'otherness'. But already James Clifford in 'Predicament of Culture' cautioned to rely on that old structure of philosophical structure still used by someone like Ernst Bloch who loved to speak about 'Verfremdung - Entfremdung' (estrangement - alienation) when traveling to other places and returning back home very much changed. It gave insights into possible changes within the self-understanding, but this experience had as a prerequisite that the outer world was different from the inner. Even Kant would say we need to ensure our understanding before setting out on a journey. He had followed carefully the anthropological notes written by Darwin in order to comprehend that other world. Yet Clifford would argue in a world made up of coca-cola to be found everywhere, there is hardly left another world in which to experience the 'self' differently in terms of that otherness also so often excluded when back home everything was geared as Hegel described it in 'Philosophy of Law' towards assuming first of all a national identity linked to the state before allowing oneself to take on a concrete, i.e. personal identity.

So where does dialogue come into all of this? The world was meant to be explored and to be discovered. The nineteenth century thinkers linked that always with 'Denken heisst Überschreiten' - thinking means transgressing borders. Even Gellner in 'Thought and Change' would pick up that trend and add provokingly a revolutionary would be the one who does not stop at the threshold of the bedroom with a beautiful woman inside and presumably waiting even if she was married! Not to heed 'morality' was one way of trespassing. Naturally it meant pleasure was gained at a certain cost and risk if not in terms of personal integrity, then in the eyes of those who knew about the affair and would thereby question the morality of that person with long lasting effects on his standing in society. Naturally Flaubert had a different idea about this when writing 'Madame Bovery' but most telling in his case was when the 32nd woman confessed to the man she would love him he was only bored for having heard the same phrase over and again. Flaubert stepped at that spot himself into the text and added for the reader to know "even if the forms are the same, the feelings underneath them are very different." So it meant form and content would often not complement each other and therefore the need to interpret all the more the hidden agenda or deeper meanings in what someone wanted to say instead of being outright open and frank, that is direct.

As this drifts of to conversations and small talks, even to discussions in salons, literature was filled with the apparent thrill of what amounted to be at least in the eyes of the observer significant talks. The rupture came with Christa Wolf describing how Günderrode and Kleist hovered on the periphery of the salon as they did not really like to listen to the endless speculations about the future of mankind if science would make still further break-throughs. Rather they did turn to 'dialogue' between themselves even though that was tricky enough for what to do with the erotic tension playing with the senses while the intellect was still confined to some noble concept or equation which had manifested itself as testimony of life itself. It is said about the two they did not really enter a real dialogue insofar as they failed to make love. That would have meant they would have gone down to the river bank and found a secluded spot where they would tear off their clothes and show to each other what bodies are made for. Rather they hesitated and hovered in between these two very different worlds. The world of the senses belongs to where rudimentary practice makes sounds like when someone saws wood or chickens call out to announce another round of eggs have been laid. And they did not enter any more the world of the intellect known to be something of seeking a path even though there is no light and one has to advance very much like a blind person just feeling and touching your way through the dark into the future gone over a thousand times.

Why is this of importance when it comes to pick up the notion of dialogue? Bernhard Beutler, prior to coming to Athens, suggested that someone should on that day go through the definition of dialogue as it was known in Ancient Greece. For sure, Socrates understood it as a method to ask questions in order to expose the other to his lack of knowing really what he was originally claiming. That meant as well questioning not merely a simple content of a statement but the very assumptions under which such a conclusion was drawn in the first place. Socrates applied this to everyone regardless if carpenter claiming to know how to handle wood or a teacher who would think he knew how to educate the young. Naturally he derived the strength for his dialogues which Plato reconstructed in telling stories by knowing only one thing, namely that he did not know anything. But not everyone can afford in society to live openly with doubt and just spend the time in asking many questions without really giving a final or for that matter a convincing answer. Interestingly enough Socrates did not write down himself the things he said. It was his pupils who kept records and fore mostly it was thanks to Plato that we know about Socrates on how he talked and interacted with his surrounding him to listen to him.

At that time on 5th of May 2000 no one had the idea to describe listening to music as a special kind of dialogue. Moreover this special dialogue of the imagination becomes visible and audible at one and the same time when standing in front of a painting and just describing what one sees. With every detail perceived and described as such, new details not noticed till then emerge. It is as if blinders - Schuppen - fall from one's eyes and one is literally amazed not to have these things before even after having looked at the painting for the tenth time. Cezanne was the one who said a part of this amazing unravelling of a painting is due to its colours constantly working. And then there is the light which changes. The painting looks differently in the morning, at noon, in the afternoon or late in the evening when the sun is about to set. No wonder painters preferred ateliers with windows towards the North so as to keep more constant the source of light. Still, a dialogue with music or a painting is like breathing and feeling the air at one and the same time. It elongates the thoughts and makes something possible, namely to see reality and imagine at the same time something else instead of that reality. This power of the dialogue with reality when based on an imagination becoming free to question everything is like a touching rod which allows the discovery of new paths to go.

Consequently some ideas about dialogue were jotted down at that time. They are worthwhile to be examined out of a fresh perspective more than a decade later:


In having said all that, it remains to be seen how much of the notion of dialogue which Ancient Greece used to practice has been retained over the many centuries since then. Above all what Socrates practised and stands for ever since is more than a model. For it has to do with the art of questioning the other in terms of knowledge based on integrity and therefore on honesty as to what one can and does really know. Since this is an integral part of giving orientation to the other, and letting the other know this one did not know and that has added something to one's own knowledge about that subject matter, it is vital that such public knowledge is being upheld. Dialogues feed the stream flowing to uphold human self-consciousness.

Dialogue is as well about question and answer without resorting to the mystic configuration of 'I-you' as attempted by someone like Martin Buber. The latter intended to bring the Jewish, Christian and Muslim religions into dialogue and this has remained quite often so the notion in the modern world that dialogue is needed but also only possible between different religions. That it is quite another world when referring as did St. Augustine in his confession to a dialogue with God seems obvious when compared to the intellect of Socrates listening and inquiring at the same time as to what can be known by a carpenter, teacher or any other person claiming a certain profession.

Ernst Bloch made the important observation that it was the Arab philosophers who rescued the Greek light and at the same time changed it. More important was for Ernst Bloch that these philosophers were not theologians but natural scientists, at least until the ninth century. This meant they had the same inclinations as had Socrates, namely to treat knowledge as a rational subject of great interest to the questioning mind.

Thus dialogue is an expression of an open culture being lived daily and does not exclude discussing old ideas insofar as a rediscovery of them will allow for the detection of something new. This was the innovative capacity of the Ancient Greeks who had no hesitation to let in ideas from Egypt. They looked at these ideas about mathematics, turned them over and again like children would a new toy to look at it from all angles and in so doing invented something completely new. That capacity to be innovative does imply, however, to remain open as a culture to influences from outside.

Quite the contrary could be noticed at that conference which took place in Athens on 5th of May 2000 when professors of the Athens university expressed a wish to protect the Greek language against what they call the invasion of foreign words. It reminds of what Adorno observed as to similar trends in Germany where "foreign words were being treated as if the Jews of the German language". Innovation through language means also to adopt and to adapt to new terms which express exactly what is meant. The English language by contrast has no hesitation to assimilate words like 'Kindergarten' and thus point a way of how the cultural horizon can be widened and extended beyond the immediate shores. Of course, this should not mean to entertain another imperial conquest. Erasmus was here most careful on how to treat indigenous cultures and to preserve their way of communicating with the world.

Thus the main question appears to be as to what should and can shape politics if it is to take on the element of public truth? Obviously it has to build on a trust in dialogue as allowing questions and answers to find the way.

So to come back to the first principle, namely the imagination, dialogue does mean searching with the help of the imagination for truth. Michael D. Higgins extended this into saying "culture is after all a search for truth". What Aristotle added to the imagination is that it allows to know the goals: 'telos'. This knowledge as to which goals to strive for implies that the prime advise philosophers can give to man and to politicians alike is to stay open to the imagination for it can show the way.

Naturally this showing depends upon staying in dialogue with reality in order to know what people need and want. Consequently the right measure reflects itself an ongoing dialogue between imagination and real needs, or what Ancient Greek poets would say about the tasks ahead when a matter of establishing a 'just society' and which is by no means an 'easy task'. Alone this awareness of the difficulties entailed in bringing about a just society allows for the deduction of the right measures, measures that do justice to both man's or woman's capabilities and what he or she strives for.

Individual speakers

As said, the speech given in Athens by Terry Carlbom, International Secretary of PEN, illuminates very well what the Charter of PEN stands for, namely a truly international position.

Friday, 5th of May 2000

11.00 - 14.00




Saturday 6th of May 2000

11.00 - 14.00


Participating cities

When comparing, for instance, Antwerp's programme with that of Krakow, it is possible to get immediately a sense of history and cultural diversity within Europe. As crucial it is to identify censorship in its many and varied forms, so it is also vital to pose the questions which the conference in Krakow aimed to answer, for that meant dealing with a new concept of freedom after having emerged just recently out of the tutelage of Communist rule. In both cases the dilemmas to be faced are well described.

Now Antwerp was European Capital of Culture in 1993 and ever since has consistently invested in the arts. This is reflected in a wise cultural policy they have adopted and shows itself in how much with respect and sincerity is treated the theme of the 5th of May. It is a combination of problematization with a willingness to see as well the other side - something similar to the intention of Krakow to talk as well about the 'tyranny of freedom'.

Antwerp has a strong poetic and literary tradition with one of the main features thereof being to have a 'poet of the city'. He is practically employed by the city for three years and has budget at his disposal to undertake some significant projects. When visiting Antwerp in 2012 with World Poetry Movement, the poet of the city was engaged in a special project. He wanted to draw attention to those people who were buried outside the city's borders and at risk to be completely forgotten. What he proposed and what became the project was that for each person at risk to be buried nearly anonymously to have a poet write a poem about him and which is to be read at his or her funeral. In this way the 'loved ones' are not left to die but are kept alive in memories belonging to the entire city.

There were involved cities which were equally European Capitals of Culture, namely Helsinki, Krakow, and yes also Brussels.

Rotterdam was to follow in 2001 so that participation on the 5th of May could be considered to be something like a dress rehearsal. They put emphasis on 'poetry'. That was like preparing the grund for Bas Kwakman who became director of the Rotterdam Poetry Festival in 2003.

By looking at the various programmes, one can tell which city gave this matter substantial thoughts, which one did something like a performa event but which did not really touch the subject matter of freedom of expression and dialogue at all. There are as well cases as with Linz were everything is evolves out of a well conceived plan. Clearly Linz was on its way to qualify themselves to become European Capital of Culture. Around that time the city was engaged in drafting a cultural development plan. Perhaps unconscious but for any person knowledgeable of German and Austrian history, it did send shudders down the spine when reading the term 'abwickeln' standing for execution of the plan is responsible this body. For that was a term used by the National Socialism when they wanted to execute one particular action. The National Socialist past is a burden for Linz. Hitler had designated it to be the cultural capital along the Danube. How this past is dealt with in Austria has remained for sensitive people are real problem, and not merely a local one even though it begins with the kind of stifling atmosphere which Thomas Bernard described with regards to Salzburg as leaving open only two options when a young persons asks what he or she can become. The alternatives are to become a business person or else commit suicide. Keeping that in mind, it would have been interesting to thematize this kind of subtle 'censorship' insofar as there seems to be a resistance within the larger population against any kind of problematization of what everyone did when National Socialism prevailed in Austria.

An interesting contrast is set by Graz which perceives the city as a place of asylum, as a place of refuge for writers under threat. Very much two of the three fates they wish to describe are connected to Eastern Europe, Bosnia and Serbia to be exact, and thus to what took place once former Yugoslavia broke up, Sarajevo put under siege, ethnic assertiveness violating the human rights of the others, and Kosovo being bombed in 1999. Michael D. Higgins, who gave a fantastic speech in Athens on the 5th of May 2000, had delivered likewise a speech on this topic in Leipzig on June 1999 and in which he addressed the fact that no longer human words were spoken or human kindness prevailed in a Europe gone completely sad. Thus Graz did well to remind especially of this young poet who resisted National Socialism and who was after his arrest deported to Berlin-Moabit where he was executed at the age of 24 in 1943. To imagine a poet who resisted by writing leaflets - Flugblätter - like the sister and brother Scholl in Munich who were likewise executed, posed a danger to a totalitarian regime? If anything, the dimension of that kind of censorship escapes our imagination today. It was a systematic suppression reinforced by both fear and cowardice. As Peter Weiss in 'Aesthetics of Resistance' describes it, once the command language of Hitler took over the humane language disappeared and as a result the mother of Peter Weiss grew more silent by the day. This creeping shadow of what is not merely a metaphor of how National Socialism crept into power if only to seize it completely once in a position to do so, but a way to understand what threats to the freedom of expression and dialogue prevail nowadays with many more people remaining silent as repression continues in the name of wishing to appear to be successful, indicates the silence of the majority has to be interpreted anew.


Several conclusions can be drawn from this unusual event which saw a major conference being held in Athens with some astonishing speeches given by persons like Michael D. Higgins and Terry Carlbom, and while cities across Europe undertook it out of their own accord to realize events related to such a theme. As said, not only the combination but the variety underlines Europe's cultural diversity, itself a reflection of how over time and through history things have been shaped differently. I suppose one key insight has been given by Bernhard Beutler when he reflected in his speech how difficult it is for even Cultural Institutes of the various EU countries to come together, for each one of them has a specific way of doing things. Call that administrative law or in a more subtle way how to attain legitimacy for doing something in the name of not individuals, but in the name of a collective, it does give an idea how great a challenge it is to bring about some common governance while still respecting cultural diversity.

Santer in his speech stressed the subsidiarity principle to which the European Union has subscribed itself especially with regards to cultural matters. However, this has led strangely enough to a highly flawed cultural and therefore very weak cultural programme. It is underlined alone by a co-funding of 50%, and if compared to how co-financial arrangements are made in other cases (e.g. Greece enjoying 75% in the Structural Fund and now after the crisis has hit a 95% co-funding ratio, while universities have all along been receiving 100%), then this tells already alot.

Yet to speak in the name of some collective identity, here Terry Carlbom was clear in pointing out the dangers of just referring blindly to national interests. His remarkable speech underlines how little understood is the need not only for writers, but people to attain a self understanding which is truly international and language a matter of choice, not compulsion.

But above everything else there was realized through all these contributions how crucial it is to safeguard 'freedom of expression' through dialogue. Many remarked how worrisome is when developments begin to shape society in a way that shall by-pass dialogue and therefore will stifle freedom of expression. Titos Patrikos went even so far as to paint the horror of complete homogenization on the wall with everything ending up having the same taste like the milk we drink daily!

For most freedom of Expression and dialogue are linked with Human and Cultural Rights. Just in these days it is reported by the International Herald Tribune that "Israel skips U.N. review of its human rights record" (30.1.2013, p. 3). The boycott is the first in the panel's history. In the article is explained that "Israel did not appear at a session of the U.N. Human Rights Concil in Geneva on Tuesday. It had been scheduled to present a report as part of the Universal Period Review process. As part of that process, all 193 member states submit every four years to a scrutiny of their human rights record." Israel justifies its refusal by suggesting the U.N. is a biased body.

How suppression works on a daily basis, that can be shown onhand of a report about life in Hebron in the West Bank of occupied Palestine. (2) It is written by Heike who has been delegated by the World Peace Organization to show what can be done with her puppet theatre. Theatre is to her an important vehicle for people not only to express what they feel, but also to recognize what they feel. And in so doing they can begin to reflect not alone but together with others the conditions in which they live. Consequently it underlines best how reality and the freedom of expression as manifested especially through the arts is required so that people do live together in peace and are not forced either into self destructive forms of resistance or else to flee in order to survive not out of free choice but due to coercion in refuge camps. This then can be linked to what Graz thematized during the events linked to the 5th of May 2000, namely that every city should be a place of refuge for writers and those fearing for their lives since they expressed themselves freely to the dislike of authorities or those who fear the consequences once people are free to reflect truly the conditions they are forced to live under. Her report is sufficient reason that the U.N. Human Rights Council does make sure Israel gives an account as to how Human Rights are being observed in Hebron and elsewhere. And this out of a deep respect for human life regardless whether Jew or Palestinian, Christian or Muslim. Thus Heike's simple question but what policy is behind such abuses of Human Rights should be taken up when the cities take up another 5th of May to mark not only the end of Second World War as the case in Holland, but also to draw attention to the fact how crucial it is for all to live and experience freedom of expression through ongoing dialogues. For questions and answers is the dream out of which every language draws its freedom of choice.

Hatto Fischer

Athens 30.1.2013


(1) Source of the report by Giannalia Cogliandro:


(2) report by Heike

Rundbrief Januar 2013

Heike Kammer, Puppenspielerin


Newsletter January 2013

Heike Kammer, Puppet player


Welcome to Hebron
Liebe FreundInnen, LeserInnen meiner Rundbriefe
Nun bin ich fast schon 3 Wochen in Hebron, Westbank – Palästina – Israel. Es fällt mir nicht leicht, meine Beobachtungen in Worte zu fassen und ich habe auch noch viele offene Fragen.
Erwartet bitte auch keine objektive politische Analyse. Ich beschreibe einfach, was ich hier erlebe und beobachte, was ich in Gesprächen erfahre. Bisher habe ich noch keine israelischen Menschen kennen gelernt. Meine NachbarInnen, KollegInnen und alle um mich herum sind entweder PalästinenserInnen oder AusländerInnen. Die meisten haben Angst vor Israelis, denn wir erleben sie nur als SoldatInnen und SiedlerInnen, als Besatzungsmacht. So wirklich verstehe ich die Angst erst, seit vor wenigen Tagen eine junge Frau von einem Soldaten erschossen wurde, die friedlich mit ihrer Freundin spazieren ging: Kopfschuss und die andere Frau verletzt. Wenige Tage zuvor war ein 15 jähriger Junge an den Folgen von Schüssen aus einem Soldatengewehr im Krankenhaus gestorben. Soldaten warfen dann Tränengas aus den Wachtürmen an der Mauer hinunter auf den Beerdigungszug. Das war in Bethlehem in einem Flüchtlingslager.
Hebron ist eine interessante Stadt. Ich wohne in Abschnitt H1, hier ist es normalerweise friedlich. H2 ist die Altstadt und Konfliktgebiet. Die Hauptgeschäftsstraße Shuhada ist nur
durch israelische Checkpoints erreichbar und wirkt etwas gespenstisch, da die Geschäfte zwangsweise geschlossen wurden. Bewaffnete junge Männer in Zivil (jüdische Siedler) und SoldatInnen joggen oder laufen, andere fahren in Autos und Bussen. Für PalästinenserInnen ist die Straße nur teilweise erlaubt, und sie dürfen nur zu Fuß gehen. Noch habe ich nicht verstanden, wer wohin darf, wer welche Papiere wo vorweisen muss etc. Wer Apartheid erleben will, sollte eine Reise nach Hebron machen.
Hier liegt auch die berühmte Moschee mit dem Grab Abrahams, ein für alle hier lebenden Religionen historisch wichtiger Ort. 1994 hat der aus den USA eingewanderter jüdische Arzt Goldstein in dieser Moschee ein Blutbad an betenden PalästinenserInnen angerichtet. Israelische SoldatInnen behinderten die Flucht der verletzten Menschen.
An anderer Stelle der Altstadt sind kleine Marktläden geöffnet. Oben drüber haben die HändlerInnen Netze und Gitter gespannt, da über den Läden die oberen Stockwerke der Häuser von israelischen SiedlerInnen besetzt sind und diese gerne mal Müll und eklige Flüssigkeiten hinunter auf die Leute werfen. Die Siedlerorganisation ist offiziell illegal, wird
aber vom israelischen Militär beschützt.
Auf den Dächern sind Wachtürme und SoldatInnen mit Kameras. Viele Wege sind geschlossen mit Gittern oder Türen. Manchmal öffnen die SoldatInnen das gelbe Tor und spazieren mit vorgehaltenem Gewehr über den Markt. Samstagnachmittags kommen sie mit einer Gruppe jüdischer SiedlerInnen, die nur umringt von Militär den Markt besuchen dürfen.
Es gibt einige internationale Organisationen zur Menschenrechtsbeobachtung und als internationale Schutzbegleitung. Sie zeigen Präsenz in H2 und gehen auch aufs Land, um Bauern zu begleiten, damit diese ihre Feldarbeit machen können. Mir wurde erzählt, palästinensische BäuerInnen werden durch Steine werfende SiedlerInnen oder israelisches Militär von ihren Feldern verjagt. Ich warte noch darauf, mal eine Tour auf's Land zu machen, um mit eigenen Augen zu sehen was dort passiert.
Was für eine Politik steckt dahinter ?
JüdInnen werden aus der ganzen Welt eingeladen, nach Israel zu kommen, die Westbank zu besiedeln und die dort ansässigen Menschen zu vertreiben. Als Vergleich kommt mir die Eroberung Amerikas in den Sinn... aber mit dem Unterschied, dass die PalästinenserInnen auswandern dürfen, z.b. in die USA, von wo die meisten der jetzt einwandernden jüdischen SiedlerInnen kommen. Europäische Steuergelder gehen an PalästinenserInnen, die seit Jahren in Flüchtlingslagern leben. So müssen sie nicht hungern, kaufen aber Obst und Gemüse, das israelische SiedlerInnen auf dem Land ernten, von dem sie vertrieben wurden. Deutsche Steuergelder helfen, Gemeindezentren, Krankenhäuser, Flughäfen zu bauen. Wenn diese aber von der israelischen Armee (auch mit deutscher Waffenhilfe) zerstört werden (z.B. der Flughafen im Gaza, ein Gemeindezentrum in Jerusalem) dann protestiert die deutsche Regierung nicht einmal. Palästina erhält humanitäre Hilfe, aber die Israelische Regierung wird politisch unterstützt. Ich verstehe nicht so Recht, was das soll, wie das begründet werden kann mit der deutschen Geschichte, Holocaust... oder gibt es wirtschaftliche Interessen?
Wo ist der Widerstand? Bekannt ist, dass Kinder und Jugendliche in den Flüchtlingslagern mal Steine oder selbst gebastelte Feuerbomben auf israelisches Militär oder gegen die Mauern werfen. Einige sind deshalb im Gefängnis.
Es gibt aber auch den zähen täglichen, nicht sichtbaren gewaltfreien Widerstand. Da sind die Familien, die nicht bereit sind, ihr Haus in H2 zu verlassen, auch wenn Soldaten jederzeit hinein gehen und auch mal was kaputt machen, verschmutzen, wohin pinkeln etc. Es sind auch die reichen palästinensischen Geschäftsleute, denen Millionen geboten werden und die doch nicht verkaufen... Die BäuerInnen, die auf ihrem Land bleiben, die kleinen HändlerInnen in H2, die ihren Laden nicht schließen...
Es gibt auch kleine organisierte Friedens- und Widerstandsgruppen sowohl in Palästina als auch in Israel. Ich weiß noch nicht, wie weit diese zusammenarbeiten, sich überhaupt kennen oder begegnen können... denn wie gesagt, die Mauern der Apartheid, die Checkpoints, die Betonmauer, die Begegnung selektiv verhindert und die Mauern in den Köpfen, die unterschiedlichen Geschichtsbücher... die Gewalt. Es gibt kleine, ganz konkrete Initiativen der aktiven Gewaltfreiheit in Israel und in Palästina. Bisher traf ich direkt: youth against settlements. Vom 20. bis 25. Februar haben sie einige gewaltfreie Aktionen in H2 geplant. Das wird bestimmt spannend und sie suchen internationale BeobachterInnen zu ihrem Schutz.
Um israelische Friedensgruppen kennen zu lernen, muss ich auf Reisen gehen.
In Palästina spielt das Theater eine wichtige Rolle. Über Theater oder auch Drama, kommen Gefühle zum Ausdruck. Gefühle erkennen, zulassen, aufzeigen ist wichtig für den Frieden in uns selbst und unserem Umfeld. Über Theater werden Situationen der Unterdrückung gemeinsam reflektiert, bearbeitet und wie in einem Spiegel an die Öffentlichkeit gebracht. Zu der Aufführung „Der Hase im Mond“ sagte ein Junge: „es reflektiert, was auf der Welt passiert“ und ein anderer: „für den Frieden müssen wir bei uns selber anfangen“. Hier in Hebron ist das Yes-Theatre, welches vor allem mit Kindern und Jugendlichen arbeitet.
Das Leben in Hebron für mich ist angenehm, ruhig, friedlich und freundlich. Keine kriminelle Gewalt, Raubüberfälle wie in vielen anderen Ländern. Keine sichtbar große Armut. Es ist
aber auch schwer, da ich die Sprachen nicht verstehe, nicht einmal die Schrift. Nur mit sehr wenigen Leuten sind intensivere Gespräche auf Englisch möglich.

Am besten kommt Ihr selbst einmal nach Hebron.

Liebe Grüße aus Hebron,







Welcome to Hebron,


Dear friends and readers of my newsletters,


Now I am already three weeks in Hebron, West Bank – Palestine – Israel. I have a large flat and invite you to visit me, in order to experience this interesting land. Until the end of March I shall be here. Inform me if you intend to come, you are certainly most welcome.

It shall not be easy to put my observations into words and I have as well still many open questions. Please do not expect of me to make an objective political analysis. I describe simply what I experience here and observe, what I learn through discussions. Until now I have not gotten to know an Israeli person. My neighbours and colleagues around me are all either Palestinians or else foreigners. Most of them fear the Israelis, since we experienced them only as female or male soldiers, as occupation force. I started to understand only in earnest this fear, since a young woman was shot by one of the soldiers. She had gone simply for a walk with her girlfriend. A shot to her head and the other woman wounded. A few days prior to that a 15 year old boy had died in hospital due to shot gun wounds inflicted upon him by a military gun. Soldiers throw down tear gas from the watch towers along the wall upon the funeral procession. That happened in Bethlehem, in the refugee camp close to the office of our World Peace service.

Hebron is an interesting city. I live in H1, here it is normally peace. H2 is the old city and area of conflict. The main business street Shuhaba can only be reached via an Israeli checkpoint, and gives the impression of a ghost town since all shops have been ordered to close down. Armed young men in civil clothes (Jewish settlers) and female as well as male soldiers jog or run, others take their cars or buses. Palestinians by contrast are only partially permitted to use the street, and they may only go on foot. I still have to understand who may go where, who must show what papers etc. Who wishes to experience Apartheid, he should undertake a trip to Hebron. Here exists the famous mosque with the grave of Abraham; it is for all the religions living here an important place. In 1994 a Jewish doctor who had immigrated from the USA to here committed a blood bath when he killed Palestinians doing their prayers. Israeli soldiers prevented that the wounded people could escape.

At another spot in the old city little market shops are open. Above them the traders have fixed nets and screens, since above the shops, in the upper floors of the houses it is occupied by Israeli settlers and who like to throw occasionally rubbish or horrible liquids down onto the people below. The organisation of the settlers is illegal, but it is protected by the Israeli military.


On the roofs there are watchtowers and soldiers (male and female) with cameras. Many pathways are closed off with fences or doors. Sometimes the soldiers open the yellow door and then they walk with rifles held ready across the market place. Saturday afternoon they come with a group of Jewish settlers, but they may visit the market only if accompanied by the military. There do exist a few international organisations to observe the Human Rights situation and to give international protection. They show presence in H2 and go with the farmers to their fields, so that they can work the land. I was told, Palestinian farmers (male and female) are often chased away by settlers or else the Israeli military all throwing stones at them. I am waiting to go on a tour into the land in order to see with my own eyes what happens there.

What policy is behind such a behaviour?

Jewish people from all around the world are invited to come to Israel in order to populate the West Bank and to drive away the people living there now. One comparison comes to my mind: the conquest of America...with one different: the Palestinian may immigrate, for example, to the USA, from where most of the immigrating settlers come from. European tax money is directed to the Palestinian, who have to live for years now in refugee camps. They do not have to starve, but they buy fruits and vegetables what the Jewish settlers harvest from the land from which they have been driven off. German tax money helps to construct community centres, hospitals, airports. But when these are destroyed by the Israeli army (as well with the help of German weapons) (for example, the airport in Gaza and the community centre in Jerusalem), then the German government does not protest at all. Palestine receives humanitarian aid, but the Israeli government is supported, politically speaking. I do not understand completely how this is justified by referring always to German history, Holocaust ...or do there exist economic interests?


Where is there resistance? It is known that children and youth in the refuge camps throw at times stones or self made fire bombs at the Israeli military or else against the wall. A few of them are therefore in jail. There does exist, however, a tough and daily, not visible non violent resistance. There are the families who are not will to leave their home in H2, even when soldiers enter at time and destroy everything, spoil everything, piss everyhwere etc. There are as well rich Palestinian business people and even if offered millions, they do not sell their property...the farmers, who remain on their land, the small traders in H2 who do not close their shops...

There exist small organised peace and resistance groups equally in Palestine and in Israel. I do not know to what extent they work together, if they know of each other's existence at all or if they can meet at all ...for, as I said, the wall of the Apartheid, the Checkpoints, the cement wall, which prevent selectively any contact and the walls in the head, the very different history books ...the violence. There exist small, very concrete non violent initiatives in Israel and Palestine. Until now I met directly: youth against settlements. They have planned a violent free action from 20 until 25th of February in H2. That will certainly be interesting to experience and they are searching for international observers for protection.

In order to get to know Israeli peace groups, I must go on trips. In Palestine the theatre plays an important role. Via theatre or also drama emotions can be expressed. Feelings recognized, allowed to exist, showing how important is peace for ourselves and for our surrounding. Via theatre the situation of oppression can be reflected upon collectively, worked on and like a mirror brought to the attention of the general public. Responding to my performance 'a rabbit in the moon' a boy said: “it reflects what is happening in this world” and another said “if we want to have peace, then we must start ourselves”. Here in Hebron the YES theatre exists. It works primarily with children and youth. I can stay only 3 months but which are financed by the World Peace Service and thus am allowed to transmit my experiences with puppet stages I made in Mexico, Middle America and Europe. Slowly work is being taken up in the form of performances and workshops. The puppet theatre is very much loved especially by the children.

At the same time I accompany a theatre workshop with a professional puppet player from Jerusalem and coordinate a small group of adults to work on the theme “puppet theatre as part of education for peace.”

The life here in Hebron is for myself pleasant, quite friendly and peaceful. There is no criminal violence, robberies as is often the case in Latin America. There is no visible poverty. It is only difficult since I do not understand the language, not even the written signs. There are only a few people with whom an intensive conversation is possible and this in English if possible. Until the end of March you can visit me, but better in February. After April you can invite me so that I can report to you what I have experienced.

I would be happy to receive from you any feedback to my newsletter, even if critical or with some complementary information.

With greetings from Hebron,



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