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No place for BDS at Limmud-Oz


J-Wire (Australia),
May 19, 2011

Speakers critical of current Israeli policies and actions will have a platform at which to air their views at next month’s Limmud-Oz in Sydney…but Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions against the Jewish State will have no voice.

In a statement issued by the Limmud-Oz organisers, supporters of BDS will be barred from airing their views.

J-Wire publishes the statement in full…

Limmud-Oz is a broad tent which includes and celebrates a wide range of opinions in the Jewish community. However, in consultation with Limmud International, the Executive of Limmud-Oz in Sydney has determined that it will not allow Limmud-Oz to provide a space to presenters who advocate a boycott of Israeli goods and services and/or of cultural, academic and sporting exchanges with Israel.

Criticism of Israel or the policies of its government similar to that levelled against any other country is entirely acceptable, and is an everyday occurrence within Israel itself. However, the Executive of Limmud-Oz in Sydney believes that the BDS campaign is an attack on Israel’s basic legitimacy and harms the Jewish people as a whole, as does the singling out of Israel for unjust criticism.

Contrary to the BDS call for a cultural boycott of Israel, Limmud-Oz supports engagement with Israeli academic and artistic institutions and we have a number of their representatives involved in Limmud-Oz this year. BDS therefore undermines this crucial aspect of Limmud-Oz.

Limmud-Oz does not deny that proponents of BDS have the right to express their views to whomever they like. But that right does not impose an obligation on us to provide them with a space to do so.

This is not about censorship, nor are we seeking to stifle dissenting views. Limmud-Oz is proud of the principles of pluralism and inclusiveness which guide us and Limmuds around the world.

Limmud-Oz does not shy away from the tough issues or from challenging points of view. There are a number of sessions at Limmud-Oz which tackle the very issues of BDS and criticism of Israel. These include:

1. ‘Who is a friend of Israel?’ with Edwin Black, Ari Briggs, Naomi Chazan, moderated by Stephen Rothman.

2. ‘Beyond the Pale: Disagreeing about Israel’ with Tommy Sterling, Larry Stillman and Mark Baker.

3. ‘From BDS to Burqas! Grassroots Community Action’ with Elaine Black, Shirlee Finn, Danny Kidron, Gael Kennedy and Sergio Redegalli.

4. ‘BDS Movement, Councils, and the art of conversation’ with Donna Jacobs Sife, Lyndall Katz, Gael Kennedy and David Knoll.

5. ‘Is Israel an apartheid state?’ with Andrew Markus.

6. ‘Narrative Wars: A Brief History of an Enduring Conflict’ with Mark Baker.

Limmud-Oz is major Australian Jewish community-wide festival celebrating Jewish learning and creativity. There are a multitude of sessions on a wide variety of topics, from text study to modern Jewish cuisine, current affairs to contemporary Israeli music.

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