© Ali Ghandtschi
When Meron Mendel came to Germany 20 years ago, he was surprised to discover how important Israel is in the country’s public discourse: everyone has an opinion about Israel. Why is that? Why is such importance attached to the conflict in the Middle East? And why is the debate so emotional – and often so toxic?
For weeks, hundreds of thousands of people have been demonstrating in the streets of Israel to preserve their democracy. The country is in the midst of its greatest crisis since its founding 75 years ago. In his partly autobiographical essay “Über Israel reden. Eine deutsche Debatte” (“Talking About Israel. A German Debate”), Meron Mendel addresses the major controversies of recent years, exploring Israel and the German raison d’état, anti-Semitism and the culture of remembrance, the so-called ‘Historikerstreit’ (historians’ dispute) and Documenta. As an educator, Mendel aims for a mediating position, seeking to build bridges between opponents. At the same time, he also ventures into the Middle East conflict itself, calling into question the entrenched ideas Israelis and Palestinians have of each other. A level-headed book that strives for balance in heated debates.
Meron Mendel, PhD, was born in Israel in 1976 and moved to Germany in 2001. A historian and educator, he is professor of transnational social work at the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences and director of the Anne Frank Educational Centre in Frankfurt am Main.