Codes of Tolerance in Culture

Paintings, music, books, dramas, exhibitions, and symposia have long made particularly important contributions of culture to greater tolerance and respect for other religions, races, and minorities. Such contributors use their artistic freedom and have been pioneers of peaceful coexistence for centuries.

Best practices:

  1. In 1999, the Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim, together with the Palestinian scholar Edward Said, founded a workshop for young musicians from both countries, the “West-Eastern Divan Orchestra.” Every summer, Israeli, Palestinian and Spanish musicians meet in Seville. The mixed youth orchestra has played many acclaimed concerts at major venues (
  2. In 2009, the exhibition “My Homeland is Within My Soul, Art Without Borders: The Jewish Contribution to Art and European Culture” opened at the United Nations in Geneva and showed great works by Chagall and Rothko.
  3. In 1996, the artist Gunter Demnig from Cologne launched his “Stumbling Stones” campaign. Now, more than 50,000 bronze stones with inscriptions are reminiscent of the victims of National Socialism in 1,000 communities, most of which were in Germany, many in the Netherlands and some in Belgium and Austria. The “Stolperstein Project” is the world’s largest decentralized memorial. They are installed in front of the houses where the victims lived prior to their deportation and murder. With their names, year of birth and place of death being immortalized there, the victims are given back their individuality, which they were deprived of in the concentration camps where they were considered nothing more than numbers (
  4. The “Art Road to Peace” initiative of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art brings Arab and Jewish children, as well as their parents, together in the city to engage in painting. This is a good approach to intercultural dialogue in the Holy Land (
  5. The Berlin-based “Diversity Exhibition” was visited in eight German cities by more than 35,000 children and their parents. In interactive igloos, the positive sides of diversity could be experienced in a playful manner. The Codes of Tolerance were part of this event ( In the praiseworthy “Children’s Arts Center” by Karen Hoffmann in Berlin, children from all cultures paint and do handicrafts together with artists (
  6. In May 2012, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa regional government in the embattled Pakistani tribal areas (FATA) organized two major events to promote culture, art, literature, and tolerance. The Minister of Culture, Iftikhar Hussain, said that thereby his government wants to eliminate hatred, envy, and narrow-mindedness. In the place of intolerance, they want to build a culture that will foster harmony, brotherhood, and tolerance. A national workshop can inform people about intolerance and overcome negative thinking through art and culture.
  7. The Canadian singer, Alanis Morissette, dedicated her performances in Palestine, Beirut, and Kosovo to the call for more tolerance. The British singer Yusuf Islam, who was famous worldwide as Cat Stevens prior to his conversion to Islam in 1977, propagates a tolerant and peaceful Islam in his new songs and fosters. He does so by means of his foundation, through providing an education for children that is based on values. (
  8. In 2013, Berlin chose “Diversity Destroyed” as its “Theme of the Year.” On advertising columns across the city, the biographies of 200 personalities, who were displaced from Germany or killed by the Nazis between 1933 and 1945, were presented. Among them was the genius of the century Albert Einstein. Also his friend Sigmund Loewe, the acclaimed Jewish inventor of the triple tube (the basis technology of the radio, 1926) and the television (Reichspatent in Germany in 1930), who had to emigrate from Berlin to the US in 1938. He was the most innovative inventor in Berlin in the 1930s and is comparable with the founder of Apple, Steve Jobs. After the Second World War in 1948, Sigmund Loewe returned to his Loewe Opta Works with the new headquarters in Kronach in Upper Franconia.
  9. Wonderful books introduce us to thoughts of tolerance and love of humanity through good stories and poetry. I want to point out only two from the great treasure. The first is the classical drama “Nathan the Wise” by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing from 1779, which is set in Jerusalem after the Third Crusade. The second is the short narration “The Writings from Accra” by Paulo Coelho from 2013, which is about a Jew, Christian, and Muslim, as well as their thoughts concerning the great questions of humanity, prior to the conquest of Jerusalem in 1099.
  10. The Berlin Wall Museum at Checkpoint Charlie has expanded its remarkable and unique exhibition on the adventurous escapes of imprisoned citizens of the German Democratic Republic into freedom. It now shows the diverse, peaceful attempts of the world religions and the non-violent global struggle for human rights, from Gandhi to Wałesa. Every year the Museum, under its committed director Alexandra Hildebrandt, awards the Rainer Hildebrandt Medal, an international prize for human rights, in memory of its founder. In December 2012, the winner was Yoko Ono. The conceptual artist and widow of John Lennon, who has been active and politically engaged since the 1960s, was honored by many. This award shows the increasing integration and fusion of all different political and national groups in a common desire for global humanity. Yoko Ono and John Lennon created a touching icon with their joint music video to the song Imagine in 1971. In 2012, it was shown to great acclaim at the closing ceremony at the Olympic Games in London. The moving song Imagine by John Lennon is a grand hymn for peace, humanity, and tolerance, “Imagine all the people
living life in peace.
You may say I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one.
 I hope someday you’ll join us and the world will be as one.”
  11. The Global Tolerance Initiative includes two political action-art projects promoting tolerance in the public sphere. In The Champions and the Art of Tolerance project, we present unique portraits of well-known people and unsung, hidden Champions of Tolerance from different cultures around the world. Photos, videos and quotes with their individual stories demonstrate that a better world with more tolerance and respect is possible. All over the world, step by step, with courage and strong individual engagement, our positive mark on this world will be more impactful than anything the extremists could ever hope for. In all areas of the world, we find Champions of Tolerance who teach us the true meaning of respect, peace, and love. Let’s learn from their different arts to promote humanity. Until now we have acquired twenty role models, among them, are Nobel Peace Prize Laureates Malala Yousafzai, Kailash Satyarthi, Shimon Peres and the 14th Dalai Lama as well as singer Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens), artist Ai Wei Wei, Queen Elisabeth II, Archbishop Alfons Nossol, Sheikh Mubarak Al Nahyan and Zaki Nusseibeh. The second cultural project is named The Places and the Globes of Tolerance. A large three meter Globe of Tolerance will be placed on The Place of Tolerance as a fixed installation. The globe will exhibit local and universal rules of tolerance and diversity from different cultures in many languages. We aim to place it in as many cities in the world as possible. The Places of Tolerance demonstrate that the people want to live in harmony with other religions, minorities, and races. The Globe of Tolerance will be a catalyst for building dialogues which promote the Codes of Tolerance all over the world. The new documentary “Love is Tolerance – Tolerance is Love” shows essentials from this book and the art projects in cinemas and on TV.

From the book “Love is Tolerance” by Hubertus Hoffmann