Laudatory Speech

with Eti Livni and Julliet Kahwaji, Women Wage Peace Foto: Melanie Öhlenbach

Women Wage Peace
International Bremen Peace Prize 2019, Foundation die schwelle
Bremen City Hall, 15 November 2019

International Bremen Peace Prize 2019, Foundation die schwelle
Laudatory Speech Women Wage Peace
Bremen city hall, 15 November 2019
Alexandra Senfft

Shalom, dear Eti, Salamat, dear Jullet!
I am very happy that both of you are here today on behalf of Women Wage Peace to receive the Peace Award 2109 given by the schwelle Foundation and to present your movement here in Bremen.

Dear audience,
I invite you to make the acquaintance of two courageous and unusual women: Eti Livni, a Jewish Israeli woman from Tel Aviv, lawyer, former Knesset member – and Julliet Kahwaji, a Palestinian Israeli woman from Akko, Arabic teacher, educationalist. Despite their many differences, they also have a lot in common: Both are mediators, women activists and each of them is the mother of three children. However, the strongest bond between them is their pursuit for peace in the Middle East as members of Women Wage Peace.

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We are not Numbers

Young Gazans between despair and resilience

Team of We Are Not Numbers Gaza Strip

by Alexandra Senfft
Adapted version from first publication in: „Der Freitag“, Berlin July 25, 2019 https://www.freitag.de/autoren/der-freitag/veraenderung-kommt-von-unten

Despite the misery, the spirit of resistance among the people of the Gaza Strip remains unbroken. For 69 weeks, thousands of Palestinians participated in the “March of Return” at the military barriers to Israel, protesting against the siege and confinement that has now lasted for 13 years. They demand their freedom and the right to return to their ancestral homes. Even the sea is militarily closed beyond the first 6 miles, also true for fishermen. But who wants to swim or fish in it when the sewage from the refugee camps has contaminated everything?

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Alexandra Senfft is a German Author

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“Every democracy must be stimulated, challenged and developed – continuously. Democracy lives and thrives through self-critical confrontation with the past – personal and collective – and by scrutinizing the assumptions of earlier generations.
Where such reflection does not take place, people adhere rigidly to generationally-transmitted patterns of thinking, feeling and action. Lack of reflection allows far-right and nationalistic forces present outmoded messages of salvation that develop their own dynamics and create new injustice.
By means of dialogue my work, in an interdisciplinary and international fashion, confronts the past to develop tasks for the present so that society can withstand anti-democratic trends and movements in the future.”
Alexandra Senfft

Alexandra’s central themes

  • Biographical work, life portraits, political analysis
  • Intergenerational consequences of the Holocaust, especially for perpetrators’ descendants
  • Dialogue between descendants of Holocaust survivors and of Nazi victimizers
  • Storytelling and dialogue in intractable conflicts based on the resolution approach of Israeli psychologist Dan Bar-On
  • Israel and Palestine: the conflict and the Peace Movement
  • Germans vis-a-vis Israelis and Palestinians in the Middle East Conflict
  • Anti-Semitism and populist hostility to Muslims

Senfft presents and discusses her areas of expertise in Germany and abroad. She lectures, participates in round tables and panels, speaks on radio and TV, and features in film documentaries. Outside of Germany, Senfft has presented her work for example at UCL, the University College London, the Leo Baeck College (London), Ben Gurion University (Israel), Harvard University (Boston), Queens University (Charlotte, North Carolina),  in synagogues in Birmingham (Alabama), Savannah and Augusta (Georgia), in Austen Riggs Center (Stockbridge, USA) or the Heinrich Heine Haus (Paris).

Her book, Silence Hurts: A German Family History («Schweigen tut weh. Eine deutsche Familiengeschichte», Ullstein Buchverlage, Berlin 2007) won the German ‘Best Biography Award’ [2008]. The book will also be published in Slovakia soon.

Alexandra’s book Strange Enemy, so far. Encounters with Palestinians and Israelis («Fremder Feind, so nah. Begegnungen mit Palästinensern und Israelis») was released in 2009, and in 2016 she published The Long Shadow of the Perpetrators. Descendants face their Nazi family history («Der Lange Schatten der Täter. Nachkommen stellen sich ihrer NS-Familiengeschichte»).

“Schweigen tut weh”, Slovakia, July 2019