Germany is Europe’s largest economy, most populous nation and influential voice in European institutions. An important global player, it boasts the fourth largest economy in the world. The country has significant influence over Israel’s relations with Europe, advocates for growing economic and scientific ties, and has sponsored several key agreements between the EU and Israel.

Germany is traditionally regarded as Israel’s second most important strategic ally after the United States. With total bilateral trade amounting to $13.9 billion in 2019, Germany is Israel’s largest trade partner in Europe. Both countries share important strategic interests in the Middle East, including combating terrorism and extremism, while promoting regional stability and peace. Germany supports various Israeli defense projects and plays a key role vis-a-vis Iran. The German government led efforts to place Hezbollah’s military wing on the EU’s list of designated terrorist organizations.

Israel’s security and well-being have been a fundamental pillar of German post-war foreign policy. Chancellor Angela Merkel characterized Germany’s support for Israel’s right to exist to its raison d’état. The painful history of relations between the Jewish people and Germany continues to have a profound impact on political ties between Israel and Germany. But German sympathy for Israel is eroding, as the generation after the Holocaust is succeeded by grandchildren and great-grandchildren for whom the past is less immediate. It is one of the great challenges to maintain the high level of bilateral relations and to keep Israel on top of the Ger-man political agenda. Moreover, it is paramount for both countries to find out how much they actually have in common, the interests and values they share, that go far beyond the well-known ties of history.

ELNET in Germany

ELNET was established in Berlin in 2014 and is an independent non-profit organiza-tion. It facilitates closer relations between Germany and Israel on the basis of shared democratic interests and values. Together with its affiliates in Israel, France, Poland and Belgium, ELNET-Germany fosters the ties between European and Israeli decision makers and builds a network with its dialogue programs and delegations.


Tel: +49 (0)30 308759 64

ELNET-Germany Team

Carsten Ovens

Executive Director, ELNET-Germany
Carsten Ovens is the Executive Director of ELNET Germany since March 2019. With almost two decades of experience in politics, i.a. as a Member of the Hamburg State Parliament, he devoted his work to the German-Israeli relations with a focus on innovation and startups for many years. Beforehand, Carsten worked in business development and management consulting throughout Europe, as a lecturer on marketing and communications at several leading universities, and as a researcher on social media communication effects on politics and society.

Janika Bratvogel

Deputy Director, ELNET-Germany
Janika Bratvogel has been working in the field of foreign and security politics in Berlin, Washington D.C., and Bonn for over a decade and has extensive experience in bringing together high-level politicians and officials. She has been Deputy Director at ELNET-Germany since its founding in 2014. Prior to that, she worked on transatlantic security issues for the German Atlantic Association in Berlin and the Hanns-Seidel Foundation in Washington D.C. Janika earned her MA degree in North American Studies, Political Science, and Anglo-American History at the Universities of Bonn, Cologne, and Oviedo, Spain.

Carolin Bischop

Program Manager, ELNET-Germany
Carolin Bischop has many years of experience in various national and international projects and associations as well as a broad network in the global startup ecosystem. Most recently, she worked at the German Startup Association, where she was responsible, among other things, for international delegations and projects, e.g. to Israel, in close cooperation with the German-Israeli Startup Exchange Program (GISEP). At ELNET she leads the German Israeli Network of Startups & Mittelstand (GINSUM).

Marius Strubenhoff

Project Coordinator, ELNET-Germany
Marius Strubenhoff has been involved in politics in Germany as well as the United Kingdom and has gained work experience with several German political organisations. He has particular expertise on German politics and history and specialised in the history of the Holocaust while working as a Lecturer at the University of Sheffield before joining ELNET. He has also worked with the British deradicalisation programme "Prevent" in relation to antisemitism and Holocaust denial. After reading history at the University of Cambridge and the London School of Economics and Political Science, Marius completed a PhD on Ralf Dahrendorf at Cambridge.

Sarah Denzel

Program Coordinator - Communications, ELNET-Germany
Sarah Denzel previously supported the Federal Association of German Foundations in the field of communication and worked as a project coordinator for the Young European Movement. She studied European and International Relations at the Universities of Maastricht and Utrecht (Netherlands). Through her first professional positions at the European Commission and at the European Council on Foreign Relations, she also has extensive knowledge of European foreign and security policy.

Lea Ledwon

Program Manager of the GIHF-AI,
Lea Ledwon has extensive experience in the German healthcare sector. Before joinig ELNET, she was responsible for the communication work of several clinics, she managed the office of the Freundeskreis der Charité e.V. She also lived in Israel for several years and worked at the Peres Center for Peace. She has a B.A. in Government, Diplomacy and Strategy from the Reichman University IDC Herzliya and a M.A. in Peace & Conflict Management Studies from the University of Haifa. At ELNET, she is the Program Manager of the German Israeli Health Forum for Artificial Intelligence (GIHF-AI).

Dr. Lidia Averbukh ​

Program Manager, ELNET-Germany​
Lidia Averbukh specializes in German-Israeli relations and Israeli domestic and foreign policy. She was a researcher at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) from 2016 to 2021. There, she advised European policymakers and published on Israel. In 2021, she received her PhD from the Bundeswehr University in Munich with a thesis on the Israeli legal system. Lidia studied political science at the Ludwig Maximilian University and conducted research at Ben Gurion University and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Hanna Börgmann

Innovation Project Coordinator , ELNET-Germany​
Hanna previously worked as a consultant for PwC Germany, managing projects in the context of modernizing and digitalizing German public sector institutions. Before that, she completed her Masters’ Degree in International Affairs at the Hertie School in Berlin, with a specialization in International Security and Sustainability. During that time, she also worked for the German-Israeli Startup Exchange Program (GISEP) at the German Startups Association, gaining experience in both countries’ startup- and innovation eco-systems.