Israel and Palestine (Part 1)

One theme. Two semester. Two narratives. Various perspectives.


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Academic Responsibility

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Joachim Mayer

Central Facility for Electron Microscopy (RWTH)
Ernst Ruska-Centre for Microscopy and Spectroscopy with Electrons (FZ Jülich)

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Ghaleb Natour

Director of the Central Institute of Engineering, Electronics and Analytics (ZEA-1), (FZ Jülich)
Welding and Joining Institute (RWTH)

Univ.-Prof. Dr. theol. Simone Paganini

Chair of Biblical Theology (RWTH)

Contact Person





Monday, 6:30-8:00 pm


Digital (Zoom)

Disclaimer: This course is part of two-semester lecture. We recommend to register for both lectures on Israel and Palestine. Participation and examination is possible for both lectures.


The region west of the Jordan River has been a cradle of human culture for thousands of years. Today, Jews, Muslims and Christians, Israelis and Palestinians with the most diverse historical, cultural and political backgrounds live side by side there. All too often, this diversity is overshadowed by the Middle East conflict, but it is worth looking at the two sides and societies in all their facets and not reducing them to the conflict alone.

The project “Leonardo” offers a two-part series of events for the winter semester 21/22 and summer semester 22, which deals with Israel and Palestine.

The framework is the so-called Middle East conflict, which began with the founding of the state of Israel and the expulsion of the Palestinian Arabs (Nakba) in 1948 and continues to this day. Keywords of this conflict are: Refugee problems, Six-Day War 1967, occupation, Intifada 1987, Oslo Peace Agreement 1991, settlement construction, Jerusalem. The basis for a long-term solution to the conflict was a fair two-state solution, which was already envisaged in the UN partition plan of 1947, but is not feasible today in view of the prevailing situation. The main points of contention are the Palestinian West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which the one side is using for Israeli settlements or sealing off, while the other claims it for an independent Palestinian state.

From a German as well as a historical perspective, the question arises as to how one can simultaneously guarantee the existence of Israel as a national state and, on the other hand, critically accompany events in the region and safeguard the right of the Palestinians to their own state.

We dare to take a differentiated look at the region in the Middle East: landscape and economy, society and science, politics, culture and history. We cordially invite you to join us. The program includes not only scientific lectures from a wide range of disciplines and professional cultures, but also impulses from literature, art and journalism.

This course on Israel and Palestine, designed for two semesters and related to each other, is led by Professors Simone Paganini (Biblical Studies), Joachim Mayer (Rectorate Representative for the Cooperation of RWTH with TECHNION Haifa) and Ghaleb Natour (Analytics and Electronics Jülich/RWTH Aachen and Association for the Promotion of Peace in Israel and Palestine e.V.).


Part 1: Israel

The Israeli Perspective: The Holy Land. The Jewish Land. A place full of contrasts: On the one hand overshadowed by violence and conflict on the other hand the one and only liberal democratic industrial nation in the Middle East. At the same time, a modern multi-ethnic state with different religions and cultures, as well as an innovative country that produces impressive achievements in research and development. What adversities has Israel overcome in its history and which ones does it still struggle with today? What enables growth there and a scientific landscape that is as young as it is remarkable? What changes has this country undergone and is it still living through today?

Learning Outcomes

Students know the causes of political and social developments in Israel and understand the interests of the various actors in and around Israel. They deal with the culture of the country. On this basis, they can evaluate questions of cooperation with Israel and are able to present these positions in a scientifically sound manner. Students gain practical insights into the cooperation between RWTH and TECHNION Haifa.



Organisational session (optional)


Introduction + Program 

Prof. Dr. Max Kerner
Chair of Medieval History and Institute of History (RWTH Aachen University)

Prof. Dr. Simone Paganini
Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Joachim Mayer
Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Ghaleb Natour

Lecture: Israel – Land of Contrasts 
Richard C. Schneider
Former ARD Israel correspondent and now Editor-at-Large of ARD in Tel Aviv 


At what point are objections to Israeli policy anti-Semitic?
Plea for a differentiated typology


Prof. Dr. Armin Pfahl-Traughber 
Focus on “Extremism” and “History of Ideas”
Federal University of Applied Sciences in Brühl  


“If you will, it is not a fairy tale!”
Theodor Herzl and the attempt at a modern solution to the Jewish question.
The Jewish state between historical and religious claims.

Prof. Dr. Simone Paganini
Teaching and Research Area Biblical Theology (RWTH Aachen University) 


Israeli culture of remembrance

Prof. Dr. Kuchler
Teaching and research area of the Didactics of Social Sciences (RWTH Aachen University)


Literary approach to Israel (English session) 

Lizzie Doron
She received the Peace Prize of the Geschwister Korn and Gerstenmann Foundation in 2018. In 2019, she was Friedrich Dürrenmatt Visiting Professor of World Literature at the University of Bern. Lizzie Doron lives in Tel Aviv and Berlin.


Cooperation between RWTH Aachen University and TECHNION Haifa (English session) 

Lecturer to be announced 


„Israel – a utopia“? (English session) 

Omri Boehm, Philosopher
(Tel Aviv, Yale, Heidelberg, München)


Closing event and discussion
Outlook on “Part 2: Palestine”

Prof. Dr. Simone Paganini
Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Joachim Mayer
Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Ghaleb Natour

Procedure/Working method​

Depending on the course of studies, module and examination, credit points can be achieved through participation.

Certificate of achievement

Certificate of attendance (0 CP)
Questionnaire (2 CP, ungraded)
Blog entry (2 CP, ungraded)
Term paper (10-15 pages, 3 CP)
Term paper (15-20 pages, 4 CP)

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