Module 4: Connections

Between Yearning and Skepticism

Germany and Israel are linked by an inextricable history, and their relationship to each other is marked by contradictions up until the present day. But relations are also characterized by closeness, continuity and understanding. Common cultural roots constitute a bond that – despite everything – has not been broken. Here, the German language plays an ambivalent role; acting to simultaneously unite and divide as the language of both home and perpetrator. During the years of Israel’s founding, while the German language is banned from public life, the first alumni clubs are founded, and German-language get-togethers and coffee mornings are organized, some of which still carry on today. The German-Jewish cultural legacy of the involuntarily abandoned homeland Germany lives on in modern Israel, influencing Israeli society until the present.

Front page of the “Ha’aretz weekend edition,
 Marlene Dietrich with Teddy Kollek, Jerusalem, February 25, 1966:

The diva gets in the mood for her concert at the apartment of Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek. Kollek was heavily criticized by the opposition after the photo was published on the title page of the “Ha’aretz” weekend edition: “Here we have a Mayor, a man who should stand for the reputation of Jerusalem and all of its people, including those of religion, and who should generally keep up morale. Look at him here, sitting at the feet of an actress who is infamous for her legs!” “The Lion of Jerusalem” counters: “Actually look at that picture, and pay specific attention to the expression on my face. There I am, sitting next to the most famous legs in the world – but do I seem happy? Am I enjoying this privilege? I’m not even looking! And why not? Why does my face look so serious? Because I just cannot think about anything apart from our annual budget! And I wish you would do the same, instead of wasting more time looking at those legs!” With that, says Kollek in his autobiography (“A Life for Jerusalem”, 1992), the subject was closed.