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50 years of diplomatic relations

The Center for Israel Studies

München, 06/03/2015

LMU’s new Center for Israel Studies is the first of its kind at a German university. Research at the Center will address not only diverse aspects of Jewish culture, but also that of the Arabic minority in contemporary Israel.

Foto: miket / fotolia.com

“In Israel there are no less than 12 institutes devoted to the study of German history and culture. The new Israel Center at LMU, however, is the very first research institution in Germany that is specifically dedicated to the study of the history and culture of Israel,” says Professor Michael Brenner of the Department of Jewish History and Culture at LMU. The opening of the new Center marks the 50th anniversary of the formal establishment of diplomatic relations between Germany and Israel in May 1965.

Up to now, responsibility for research and tuition on diverse aspects of Israel’s present and past, such as its literature, history, political and economic development, has been divided between several different Faculties. The Center for Israel Studies will bring together certain research areas that have so far fallen within the ambit of other Institutes and academic departments at LMU, such as the Department of Jewish History and Culture, the Chair of Jewish Studies and the Institute for Near and Middle Eastern Studies, under one roof. Thus, the new Center will combine elements of these research areas that are thematically related to Israel within a single organizational structure.

The Center also hopes to branch out in new directions. “One of the things we are interested in is a Chair in Hebrew Literature, as no German university has such a professorship at present,” Brenner remarks. The Center for Israel Studies will also place great emphasis on the training of early-career researchers. For example, the Center is organizing a Workshop for young specialists in the history and culture of Israel, which will take place in the course of the coming year. In addition, the Center will set up an outreach program with a view to inspiring more interest in Jewish and Arabic culture in schools and ensuring that the Arab-Israeli conflict receives due consideration in school curricula. “Now, 50 years after the opening of diplomatic relations, is a good time to take a more nuanced and discerning look at Israel,” Brenner suggests.