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Speech of H.E. Ambassador Frank Hartmann on the occasion of a panel discussion on the „Roots of Hatred“

05.02.2024 - Pressemitteilung

Speech of H.E. Ambassador Frank Hartmann on the occasion of a panel discussion on the „Roots of Hatred“ at the premises of the German Embassy in Cairo on February 4th 2024

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are gathering here tonight to discuss about „the roots of hatred“, about how xenophobia, islamophobia and anti-Semitism have become roots of discrimination, segregation and prejudices in our societies, which can lead to hate and even violence.

We are discovering in our western, European societies, a worrisome tendency of declining tolerance and acceptance towards people from different origin, religion, tradition and language.

The more our societies became multi-facetted, diverse, multi-cultural and multi-ethnic, the more we tried to open up and integrate people from different background into our societies, the more have parts of our societies driven away from the concept of a tolerant society and supported right-wing xenophobic parties, like the AfD.

Fortunately, a strong public movement, the „silent majority“, has stood up recently in large rallies against right-wing radicalism, against discrimination of people from other origins.

This panel tonight starts from a German perspective, and reveals the problems our society is facing and our attempts to remain an open, democratic society. We do not presume to draw any lessons and give any recommendations for our host society in Egypt.

You may ask yourselves: why this discussion now, overshadowed by the terrible war in Gaza, right in our neighbourhood? We wanted to have this discussion at the end of last year. Due to the war in Gaza and with respect to the horrendous numbers of victims, we decided to postpone the event. But we did not want to avoid this difficult discussion.

The 7 October and the terrorist attack on Israel, have been a shock to the Western communities and to the German public. The support for Israel was and remains strong in Germany, and there are reasons in our history for that. But what people often do not sufficiently understand, is the long history and the complexity of the conflict, which did not start on 7th October. People in my country tend not to apprehend sufficiently the Palestinian and Arab perspective to the conflict.

What we are observing now is a humanitarian catastrophe with 1200 Israeli victims, but more than 27.000 Palestinian victims. The suffering of the civilian population must come to an end. Every single life counts equally and must be protected. We need a humanitarian truce asap, stopping of the fighting from both sides, release of the hostages and work for a lasting cease-fire.

The longer the fighting, the deeper the wounds of that conflict, the smaller the perspective for any future life in Gaza in dignity, the more frustration and hate will grow even in the next generation.

Peace for Israel will only be possible when Palestinians live in peace and dignity in their own state. The vicious circle of violence, hate, and even more violence has to be broken, and the path towards a political solution has to be opened again. We have a joint human responsibility in this regard.

Our topic tonight will not lead us to any new insights for a political solution for Gaza. But it may give us some new ideas how to overcome hatred and further polarization and develop more tolerance to accept the perspective of the opposite side a little bit more. This starts with the empathy for the suffering of the victims of the other side.

According to the side of the conflict people support, they tend to believe all information that reinforces their own prejudices, and would refuse every information that challenges it. The result is: more polarization, more demonization, more hatred, more violence. Instead, we must uphold our own, individual, independent and critical judgement.

We consider it therefore our duty

- to investigate root causes of hatred,

- to demonstrate the vicious effect that group-focused hatred has on individuals and on societies as a whole,

- but also, to develop a positive outlook: we want to show that hatred can be overcome,

- that the demons of the past can be chased away,

- that knowledge and education is key in immunizing individuals and societies,

- that diversity is not a threat, but an asset and a blessing.

For this difficult journey we have invited some seasoned experts:

- Prof. Susan Kamel will give us an input on discrimination and diversity,

- Ferda Ataman, the Federal Governments Anti-discrimination commissioner, is a strong voice against discrimination and for an open society,

- Serpil Unvar, who’s son was murdered in a racist terrorist murder attack in Hanau, turned her grief into work against hate and discrimination,

- Dervis Hizarci, who was our guest already last year, a German of Turkish origin who works against Anti-Semitism in education in Berlin,

- and Dr. Youssef Zidane, an Egyptian author and intellectual, who will enlighten us with the Egyptian perspective.

I also welcome five young artists who are here with us tonight and whose works are on display in these rooms. Thanks goes also to gallerist Mina Noshy, who helped organizing the exhibition.

I wish you an enlightening, and controversial discussion.

(Check against delivery.)

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