Lou Bohlen receives Max Planck Communitas Prize 2024

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Since 2014, the President of the Max Planck Society has awarded the Communitas Prize in recognition of exceptional commitment to the interests of the MPG. On 29 February 2024, Dr Lou Bohlen, representing the Middle East Department of the Max Planck Society and the entire team of the Minerva Stiftung, received the Communitas Prize from President Patrick Cramer in Berlin. Especially, her leadership of the Minerva Stiftung’s rapid and sustainable crisis management and her tireless efforts to maintain German-Israeli research relations even in times of war were honoured.

The terrorist attack by Hamas against Israel on 7 October 2023 and the subsequent armed conflict in the Gaza Strip have caused untold suffering on both sides of the conflict to this day. Nothing in the region has been the same since then. Also, the work of the Minerva Stiftung has changed fundamentally since the terrorist attack, and especially in the following weeks, from day-to-day German-Israeli science to crisis management. The Minerva team responded to the dramatic situation in Israel in the shortest possible time.

As a sign of solidarity and sympathy, a meeting between the German Education Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger and German and Israeli fellows in Berlin in mid-November 2023 was arranged. The minister was visibly moved by their fate.

Lou Bohlen also organised a solidarity trip to Israel by President Cramer and a small delegation of representatives from the MPG and the Minerva Stiftung. It was the first visit of an internationally active scientific organisation to the Israeli cooperation partners after the terrorist attack by Hamas.

In order to maintain and expand the important and historic German-Israeli (research) relations, Lou Bohlen has also been instrumental in designing and implementing several initiatives: Funding for Arab Israelis within the Minerva Fellowship Programme, research projects on ‘Human Rights and Democracy’ and ‘Life under Extreme Conditions’, the Max Planck Israel Programme (with 1 million Euros from the Max Planck Foundation) as well as the opening of an office in Israel that will help coordinate the many collaborations of the Max Planck Society and the Minerva Stiftung with the Israeli partners.

Source: Minerva Stiftung