Talk in the Park

Talk in the Park Extra: Haifa Dinner with Baden-Württemberg’s Minister-President Winfried Kretschmann

Stuttgart, October 28, 2015 – For the past 45 years, the University of Haifa has been working to promote intercultural understanding in the Middle East. The university is supported by a German friends association that organizes regular information and donor evenings to help further this aim. For the first time, the Robert Bosch Stiftung and the ZEIT-Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius organized one such evening to raise money for the friends association. The guest of honor at the Haifa Dinner was Winfried Kretschmann, the Minister-President of Baden-Württemberg.

Where Israelis and Arabs can study in peace

With some 18,000 students, the University of Haifa is regarded as Israel’s most liberal academic institution. Here, some 4,000 Arab students study together with their Israeli counterparts. There is no comparable place on the same scale anywhere in the world where the two groups live together so harmoniously on a daily basis.

Alongside the students, many of the professors are Arab Israelis, including Professor Mouna Maroun. An internationally respected neurobiologist, she is one of the first-ever Arab women to hold such a senior academic position in Israel.

Donations for the Arab Women Graduate Program

At the Haifa Dinner, Maroun spoke of her academic career and the support she has received from the Arab Women Graduate Program. With the program, the University of Haifa and their German friends association give promising Arab female students the opportunity to obtain an advanced academic education. This would otherwise be hard to access on account of the socially disadvantaged position of the Arab minority population and the traditional gender roles that are deeply embedded in Arab communities and families within Israel.

"The Arab Women Graduate Program plays a key role in fostering intercultural understanding in the Middle East, promoting equal opportunities for women, and nurturing the next generation of academics," emphasized Minister-President Winfried Kretschmann, speaking at the Robert Bosch Stiftung. "Particularly in light of renewed tensions in Israel, with terrorist attacks and violent conflicts, projects like these are important foundations for peaceful coexistence between different religions, ethnic groups, and genders – with equal rights for all."

Picture Gallery

Photos: Björn Hänssler 
Sonja Lahnstein-Kandel, Chair of the German Friends Association of the University of Haifa, and Professor Mouna Maroun, former fellow of the Arab Women Graduate Program and current Head of the Sagol Department of Neurobiology at the University of Haifa.