The Presenter Controversy Continues at Limmud-Oz in Sydney
Who can, and cannot, present at the upcoming Limmud-Oz in Sydney continues to make news.
Limmud-Oz organizers have sought to explain their actions in banning presenters from their festival.
Michael Misrachi explains that the executive committee of Limmud-Oz “decided not to accept” certain presenters, which is problematic enough, but this misrepresents what happened in a significant way. The decision “not to accept” was, in fact, a summary cancellation of talks that were already accepted and listed on the program, and were not thought to be objectionable in any way. No concern was perceived with either my own talk or Vivienne Porszolt’s until after the Marrickville Council meeting on their BDS policy where I had made a three-minute speech. Our presentations for Limmud-Oz had nothing at all to do with BDS, as our submitted titles and abstracts made perfectly clear. Accordingly, it is entirely untrue that the reasons for our removal have anything to do with what Misrachi now describes as concerns about the content of the program. He now explains, “We are not obliged to give expression in our program to every view held in the community,” but he knows that the cancellations have nothing whatever to do with the views to be expressed. My presentation was to be about patriotism and “Ahavat Israel” or love of the Jewish people, adapted from a published article of mine titled ‘Gods of the State.’ Indeed, I had been specifically invited to make a presentation in the Israel/Middle East section, following the talk I had given at Limmud-Oz in 2009 on ‘Jewish Identity and Jewish Responsibility’
These facts casts a somewhat more disturbing light on the motives of Limmud-Oz organizers, including the directors of Limmud International who endorsed it. Director of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, Vic Alhadeff, has been reported as approving of the action by Limmud directors, but perhaps he was not aware of these facts and took the official excuses at face value.