No Place for BDS at Limmud-Oz in Sydney

According to J-Wire (Jewish Online News from Australia and New Zealand), 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 organizers, supporters of BDS will be barred from airing their views. Saying, in part, “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… 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.”

As criticism of Limmud presenters – particularly vis a vis Israel – is nothing new, we checked in with Carolyn Bogush, the U.K. based Chair of Limmud, for a comment on what’s transpiring “down under”.

“Every Limmud group around the world – all of whom are part of the Limmud International community – is entitled to invite their own presenters, chose their own topics and put together their own programme, as long as they are in line with the overall Limmud International core principles. We provide support, training and guidance to the leadership of each of these groups wherever we can, and are also very conscious that they are best placed to understand local sensitivities that form part of the context and community within which they operate. Limmud groups around the world often receive criticism, publically and privately, from individuals unhappy about certain presenters or topics that either feature or don’t feature at their events. In each case the local Limmud team make their decisions based on a combination of the views of those planning and running the event, their local context and the Limmud core values and principles that guide every Limmud community around the globe. We are confident that the leadership of Limmud Oz have acted in an appropriate, thoughtful and Jewish way in the face of a difficult and complex issue. As with everything that Limmud does, they have worked hard to create a balanced and diverse programme that reflects the diversity of their participants as best they can, whilst remaining committed to principles of respect and community.

Limmud groups around the world are proud to be one of the few places in their community that bring together such a wide spectrum of different people from different Jewish backgrounds with a range of beliefs and opinions, and creates spaces where discussions and debates on even difficult and sometimes divisive topics can take place in an atmosphere of ‘makhlokot l’shem shamayim’. Limmud OZ has once again put together what is clearly an outstanding, rich programme which will be enjoyed by over a thousand local Jewish people seeking to take one step further in their Jewish journey.”