Three days ago, as I was driving past the palace, I could already see right through it.
Before long, I found myself thinking and dreaming in German, and I wondered what Dad would have thought of that.
Before I tell you about the strange night I danced to “Hava Nagila” in a bar in Berlin, I have to admit that I think about this night often, and I think about it on two different occasions.
Traveling around Europe in the midst of all this, conducting dissertation research on the Czech interwar avant-garde and its relationship to other major artistic centers of that period, I could not but think about renewed border controls in the EU territory within the context of, and in comparison to, travel in the period between the two World Wars. At that time, Europeans (as well as travelers from further afield) enjoyed a newly open, post-war terrain. The physical movement of bodies, facilitated also by new and faster modes of travel, helped to open up an unprecedented level of exchange between artists and intellectuals of diverse backgrounds and languages. In that brief window of freedom of movement between the two World Wars, Paris was a hub of such traffic, and many visitors came from Prague.
The year 2015 marks a half-century of diplomatic relations between Israel and Germany. It is a complicated relationship, to say the least. On the one hand, ties between these two countries are incredibly strong; as a recent article in Ha’aretz details, Germany has made key contributions to Israel’s economy, security, and diplomacy nearly since the founding of the Israeli state in 1948. And present day relations have little of the hand-wringing and public back-and-forth that marks, say, Israeli comments about Jewish life in France, or the regular Israel-bashing that is a feature of discourse in many European countries. On the other hand, it’s Israel and Germany. There will always be a lot to say.