Germany is Europe’s largest economy, most populous nation and an influential voice in European institutions. An important global player, it boasts the fourth largest economy in the world. The country has significant influence over Israel’s relations with Europe, advocates for growing economic and scientific ties, and has sponsored several key agreements between the EU and Israel.

Germany is traditionally regarded as Israel’s second most important strategic ally after the United States. With total bilateral trade amounting to $13.9 billion in 2019, Germany is Israel’s largest trade partner in Europe. Both countries share important strategic interests in the Middle East, including combating terrorism and extremism, while promoting regional stability and peace. Germany supports various Israeli defense projects and plays a key role vis-a-vis Iran. The German government led efforts to place Hezbollah’s military wing on the EU’s list of designated terrorist organizations.

Israel’s security and well-being have been a fundamental pillar of German post-war foreign policy. Chancellor Angela Merkel characterized Germany’s support for Israel’s right to exist to its raison d’état. The painful history of relations between the Jewish people and Germany continues to have a profound impact on political ties between Israel and Germany. But German sympathy for Israel is eroding, as the generation after the Holocaust is succeeded by grandchildren and great-grandchildren for whom the past is less immediate. It is one of the great challenges to maintain the high level of bilateral relations and to keep Israel on top of the Ger-man political agenda. Moreover, it is paramount for both countries to find out how much they actually have in common, the interests and values they share, that go far beyond the well-known ties of history.

ELNET in Germany

ELNET was established in Berlin in 2014 and is an independent non-profit organiza-tion. It facilitates closer relations between Germany and Israel on the basis of shared democratic interests and values. Together with its affiliates in Israel, France, Poland and Belgium, ELNET-Germany fosters the ties between European and Israeli decision makers and builds a network with its dialogue programs and delegations.

Carsten Ovens

Chief Executive Officer, ELNET-Germany
Carsten Ovens is the Executive Director of ELNET Germany since March 2019. With almost two decades of experience in politics, i.a. as a Member of the Hamburg State Parliament, he devoted his work to the German-Israeli relations with a focus on innovation and startups for many years. Beforehand, Carsten worked in business development and management consulting throughout Europe, as a lecturer on marketing and communications at several leading universities, and as a researcher on social media communication effects on politics and society.

Janika Bratvogel

Deputy Director, ELNET-Germany
Janika Bratvogel has been working in the field of foreign and security politics in Berlin, Washington D.C., and Bonn for over a decade and has extensive experience in bringing together high-level politicians and officials. She has been Deputy Director at ELNET-Germany since its founding in 2014. Prior to that, she worked on transatlantic security issues for the German Atlantic Association in Berlin and the Hanns-Seidel Foundation in Washington D.C. Janika earned her MA degree in North American Studies, Political Science, and Anglo-American History at the Universities of Bonn, Cologne, and Oviedo, Spain.

Marius Strubenhoff

Program Manager, ELNET-Germany
Marius Strubenhoff has been involved in politics in Germany as well as the United Kingdom and has gained work experience with several German political organisations. He has particular expertise on German politics and history and specialised in the history of the Holocaust while working as a Lecturer at the University of Sheffield before joining ELNET. He has also worked with the British deradicalisation programme "Prevent" in relation to antisemitism and Holocaust denial. After reading history at the University of Cambridge and the London School of Economics and Political Science, Marius completed a PhD on Ralf Dahrendorf at Cambridge.

Lea Ledwon

Program Manager of the GIHF-AI,
Lea Ledwon has extensive experience in the German healthcare sector. Before joinig ELNET, she was responsible for the communication work of several clinics, she managed the office of the Freundeskreis der Charité e.V. She also lived in Israel for several years and worked at the Peres Center for Peace. She has a B.A. in Government, Diplomacy and Strategy from the Reichman University IDC Herzliya and a M.A. in Peace & Conflict Management Studies from the University of Haifa. At ELNET, she is the Program Manager of the German Israeli Health Forum for Artificial Intelligence (GIHF-AI).

Elisabeth Spiegel

Team Manager, ELNET-Germany​
Elisabeth Spiegel is Team Manager at ELNET-Germany and primarily responsible for financial accounting and controlling. She acts as the central contact for all ELNET offices as well as external partners and supports the strategic development of ELNET-Germany. Previously, she worked as a Customer Success Manager at a FinTech company and for several years as an office manager as well as in human resources. She holds a double bachelor degree BA/B.Sc. in Public Administration and European Studies as well as a M.A in Administrative Sciences.

Laura Sophie Stadler

Program Manager, ELNET-Germany
Laura Sophie Stadler joined ELNET Germany in August 2022 as Program Manager responsible for the topic antisemitism. Previously, she worked as a speechwriter in the department of communication for the Federal Minister of State for Culture and the Media as well as a policy advisor for a German MP. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and Tel Aviv University, and a Master’s degree in international history from Sciences Po Paris. During her studies she specialized amongst others in Jewish history.

Sana Kisilis

Project Coordinator, ELNET-Germany​
Sana Kisilis joined ELNET-Germany in March 2023 as Project Coordinator in the area of antisemitism. Previously she was responsible for various qualification measures at the Central Welfare Board of Jews to professionalize and digitalize Jewish community work. She studied Jewish Studies, Communications and Media at Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf and Religion and Culture at Humboldt University in Berlin and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
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John-William Boer

Project Coordinator, ELNET-Germany​
John-William Boer is Project Coordinator at ELNET-Germany. He focuses on foreign and security policy. Previously, he worked at the political communications agency 365 Sherpas, where he supported clients in the digital, health, and public sector. Boer also worked as a freelancer for the German magazine “International Politics”. He studied political science and economics in Lüneburg and completed a master’s degree in Politics and Contemporary History at King’s College London.
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Francesca Fassbender

Project Coordinator, ELNET-Germany​
Francesca Fassbender joined ELNET in August 2023 as a Project Coordinator for Foreign and Security Policy. She earned her undergraduate degree in Economics from Humboldt University Berlin and continued her academic journey with a Master's in Public Policy and Conflict Resolution in Tel Aviv. Francesca's professional background includes valuable experience in Israeli NGOs and Think Tanks, complemented by her extensive academic research. Her expertise lies in the dynamics of the Abraham Accords and the strategic application of environmental and economic cooperation for peacebuilding.