Code of Conduct for Freedom of Expression and Respectful Exchange at the Berliner Festspiele 4-day Focus “Reflexes & Reflections”

With the 4-day focus “Reflexes & Reflections. 7 October, the war in Gaza and the debate in Germany”, we invite the public to participate in an exchange of views on a complex topic that currrently concerns many people. It is our impression that in recent months the debate about Israel and Palestine has often been one conducted between hardened fronts. At many points, people have been called upon to assume one-sided positions, there have been rapid moves to blame and misrepresent others and many people are reluctant to speak at all out of fear of saying something that might be interpreted as wrong.

In these four days we would like to give experts and visitors the opportunity to explore the issues in a more nuanced fashion. You are warmly welcome to ask questions and join in the discussion. In order for the events to run respectfully and productively for everyone involved, we wish to remind you of our code of conduct for freedom of expression and respectful exchange:

  • Everyone may ask questions, voice political opinions, express their own identity and identify and sympathise with the suffering of innocent people – Israelis, Palestinians and others.   
  • However, participation in the event is conditional on a willingness to listen to others, to engage with other, possibly disturbing or unpleasant sentiments and points of view, to tolerate dissent and to ask if something is or appears ambiguous. 
  • In order to guarantee intellectual freedom for all and create an artistic environment, we must take care both individually and collectively that all visitors, artists, speakers, participants in the discussions and Berliner Festspiele staff members feel protected and safe. Every one of us has a responsibility to contribute to a solidary environment.  
  • It is therefore essential to be constantly mindful of other persons who are present and to regard and anyone as an individual with a personal opinion and not primarily as the representative of a (national, ethnic, religious, cultural) group. Individual persons are not responsible for what other members or representatives of a group to which they may be correctly or incorrectly assumed to belong may or may not do or have done.
  • Visitors to the events must wait with their questions and comments until the moderators open panel discussions up to the public and are required not to interrupt artistic performances. So that as many people as possible may voice their opinion and ask their questions, visitors who request to speak are asked to be concise and to refrain from speech-making. We wish to receive open questions that do not attempt to suggest or prescribe a position or answer to those responding. Decisions by the moderators to end discussions in order to keep to the agreed timetable for the programme or due to a failure to adhere to these guidelines are to be respected.
  • This 4-day focus presents the opportunity for live face to face exchange within the same space. In order to prevent statements by speakers or attendees being made public out of context and to protect copyrights, photos, video and sound recordings of the events are not permitted.
  • Expressions of opinion are repeatedly radicalised and conflicts fuelled on social media. The anonymity of this form of communication makes it easy to forget that verbal attacks may be hurtful or dangerous to the people who are affected. We therefore request that all attendees conduct themselves respectfully and responsibly in the virtual space.

The 4-day focus “Reflexes & Reflections. 7 October, the war in Gaza and the debate in Germany” should be a space within which even contradictory positions are allowed to exist with and alongside each other and within which one may hold an argument. However, overstepping certain boundaries of respectful discourse can lead to exclusion from the events and being directed to leave the Haus der Berliner Festspiele, for example, for: 

  • threats, abuse, shaming, verbal violence or violent behaviour,
  • calls for or incitement to violence, legitimising or trivialising acts of terror, the killing or wounding of civilians or support for terrorist organisations,  
  • anti-Semitic, racist, Islamophobic or other derogatory expressions or symbols,
  • preventing others who adhere to this code of conduct from speaking. 

As we wish to distance ourselves as far as possible from nationalistic references or categorisations at “Reflexes & Reflections”, we request that visitors do not bring flags or banners to the events.

There will be a security check at the entrance.

We wish everyone an exciting and enriching exchange during these four days and hope you will enjoy the performances!

Your Berliner Festspiele