On November 3rd, 2008, The Heinrich Boell Stiftung office in Israel celebrated its 10th anniversary since the opening of its office in the heart of Tel Aviv. Israel Office Director Joern Boehme welcomed the diverse audience of partners, dignitaries and well wishers, who came to salute the work of the foundation in Israel. Foundation Co-President Ralf Fuecks reviewed the work of the office over the last decade and referred to the opening event ten years before in which Shimon Peres gave the opening address and Professors Moshe Zuckerman and Naomi Chazan discussed the topic of civil society and its role in a vibrant democracy. Dr. Dr. Harold. Kindermann, German Ambassador to Israel, also greeted the guests and honored the work of the Boell Foundation and its unique contribution to Israeli society.
There was a panel discussion with Rachel Liel, Director of Shatil, Badria Biromi-Kandaleft, Director of Link to the Environment, and journalist and writer Avirama Golan, who discussed “Achievements and Challenges in Building a Shared Future for All: Expectations of a European, German, Green Foundation.”
Avirama Golan began by stating that democracy in Israel is not the same as it was 20 years ago: “The settlements built a state apart and the government as well as the society turned to be neo-liberal.” Badria Birromi-Kandaleft raised the issue of environmental injustice as being incongruous to democratic values. Rachel Liel from Shatil added that with Israel having the biggest socio-economic gaps in the Western world, and the loss of people’s confidence in politics altogether have created big challenges to democracy.
About the role of outside actors, such as the Boell Stiftung itself, and the question what makes a real friend of Israel, Rachel Liel said: “Friends are those with the same values, and there is no interference as long as those outside actors act in a democratic, transparent and respectful way.”
Greetings by Ralf Fuecks, co-director of the Heinrich Boell Stiftung at the 10th anniversary event (English, PDF, 4 pages, 111kB)