by Veronika Grueneisen
Since the first Nazareth Conference in 1994, things in the world have changed a lot. Then, it was one year after Oslo. Rabin’s policy represented hope and moving on for many inside and outside Israel. The conferences focussed on the split between victims and perpetrators. Nowadays, no peace is in sight, in the Middle East. The occupation in the Westbank is ongoing. The situation in Gaza after the war in 2009 has become more desperate. Refugees from Africa have come to Israel and are living in camps – similar to refugees trying to come to Europe. Generally, the level of aggression has become much higher. Events following the Arab Spring with its focus on civil rights, at least in Egypt, and the ongoing war in Syria with meanwhile about 25.000 people having been killed already, at the same time the rise of Islamic radicalism have made it difficult to feel hope and see development. Moreover, perpetrator and victim are less easily split.
Not only in the Middle East, but also in Europe, the situation has become much more complex – while the Schengen treaty allows to travel between countries without even noticing borders, European defence against immigration and refugees has become much more aggressive – boat people from Africa drowning, every year, refugees kept in camps, some under appalling conditions and / or being sent back after all. Rising Neo-Nazism with murderous outbreaks against immigrants, anti-Muslim prejudice and enmity in many European countries, increasing fundamentalism and destructive aggression on all sides, old and new racism, the Balkan war and its aftermath, ongoing violent national conflicts, enmity against Germany now because of its economically dominating European policy etc.
The complexity requires us to give up the comfort of simplifying things. We need to look at what is happening even though we are in the midst of it. The complexity is unbearably stressful, and there is no position from which to process what is going on, ‘in comfort’ … Past is haunting, present is insecure, future is frightening both in personal and in global terms. Our challenge is to bring up and address the cruelty, often hidden behind as-if-reasonable arguing, to give up simple splitting, face and confront not only our constructive quest, but also the destructive side, in each of us.
The most recent conference on “European Perpetrators and Victims – Then and Now” in Kliczków / Poland from Sept 5th – 10th, 2012 was an attempt to deal with precisely this complexity and look at relationships and relatedness (with view to past and present) between members from a variety of European – and other – countries (see the Director’s report, in this Newsletter).
As I mentioned in the last NL, we have decided to continue our work using a two track model:
- One track, “The Present in the Present”, implies addressing and working with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as well as with the role Others (including Germans) have in this. Among other aspects, it is being pursued by searching (a) Palestinian partner organisation(s) so that preparation for and organisation of the next conference with this focus can be dealt with on a partnership level. This search is still ongoing, so if anybody has ideas or contacts which he / she feels might support this quest of ours, please contact me any time. (VeGrue@t-online.de)
- The other track, “The Past in the Present”, is work in Europe. From what we know, in many European countries little ‘working through’ of the past in the present has been done. The most recent conference mentioned above was, we believe, a rewarding start of this track and will be continued.
On top of these two tracks, PCCA is in the process of finding and reaching out to partners in other countries who are interested in cooperating with us or building up their own work of “confronting collective atrocities”, in contact with us and with our support.
Also, PCCA has started two Open Forum via the internet that will allow other people to share in the necessary discussion: one is for all who participated in the 2012 conference in Kliczków, for your post-conference reflections, experiences, implementations and suggestions – anything that seems relevant to you. The other is for anyone who likes to share and comment on any issue you may want to explore and to share, in relation to PCCA’s work. Both forums are open, but secure, you can register any time! In order to register please go to:
One of our most urgent needs is to obtain reliable funding. We are a voluntary organisation, an NGO with no organisational funding. We need funds for running the organisation as well as for offering bursaries to people who would like to participate in our conferences and who might benefit from our work, but could not participate without our support. We need everybody’s help in this effort! Whether your contribution is bigger or smaller – every bit is welcome. Our bank account is Postbank Berlin, account no. 0523 542 102, BLZ 100 100 10, IBAN DE67 1001 0010 0523 5421 02, BIC PBNKDEFF. You will get a charitable donation certificate. Thanks in advance, for your support.
Veronika Grueneisen, Chair, PCCA
Nuernberg, Oct. 2012