The beginning of July saw ELNET-Germany leading a delegation of young journalists from a variety of different media outlets to Israel. Some of the participants were excited to visit Israel for the very first time. A delegation of French journalists, led by ELNET-France, was visiting Israel at the same time, making this ELNET’s first-ever German-French delegation to Israel.
Throughout the five-day program, the journalists got to know Israel in all its diversity. A particular emphasis was laid on foreign and security policy aspects in and around Israel, the ongoing Israeli election campaign, as well as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The delegation had the chance to address all of these issues in exclusive meetings with representatives of different parties of the Israeli Knesset, including Blue and White (Kahol Lavan), the Union of Right-Wing Parties, Yisrael Beiteinu, and Likud.
The participants also had the opportunity to visit the Herzliya Security Conference, where they attended the keynote speech of Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Chairwoman of the German Christian Democratic Union (CDU), and took part in a roundtable discussion organized by ELNET and the Forum of Strategic Dialogue (FSD).
Another highlight of the delegation was a guided tour through the Kerem Shalom Border Crossing, the only point of passage for goods between Israel and the Gaza Strip. Each day, roughly 450 trucks cross this checkpoint, carrying commodities for the people in Gaza. The tour was followed by a briefing with an IDF official about the security challenges Israel faces along its border with Gaza. The day closed with a visit to Netiv HaAsara, the closest community in Israel to the Gaza Strip. The group was fascinated by the personal stories, experiences, and the resilience of the community.
Particularly interesting for the German and French journalists were meetings with Israeli TV-star Rina Matzliach and Arab-Israeli journalist Khaled Abu Toameh. Both were speaking about the current domestic political developments in Israel, the upcoming elections, and the status and freedom of the press in Israel as compared to the Palestinian Territories.
As part of the cultural program, the delegation was guided through the Old City of Jerusalem by Prof. Dr. Dieter Vieweger from the German Protestant Institute of Archeology. The delegation also visited the World Holocaust Remembrance Center Yad Vashem and had the unique opportunity to meet with Holocaust survivor Dr. Hillel Goldberg and his family.