Australian Limmud Scraps Controversial Panel

By JTA

Published June 06, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Limmud Oz, an offshoot of the international festival of Jewish learning, cancelled a panel featuring several controversial Jewish speakers for its upcoming conference in Melbourne.

The Jewish panelists no longer speaking, though they initially appeared on the Limmud Oz website, include Vivienne Porzsolt, a spokeswoman for Jews Against the Occupation who was detained in Israel last year en route to the flotilla to Gaza, and who recently marched in Sydney alongside Hezbollah supporters; Avigail Abarbanel, who renounced her Israeli citizenship in 2001; and Dr. Peter Slezak, a co-founder of the far-left Independent Australian Jewish Voices.

Although Limmud Oz officials have declined to comment on the controversy, they appear to have decided that the panel about “Beyond Tribal Loyalties” – a new book of essays by dissenting Jewish peace activists from America, Israel, Australia and elsewhere – was beyond the pale because many of its speakers support boycotting Israel.

The program, which includes some 200 presentations from about 150 speakers, still includes sessions featuring the president of the Australian Palestinian Advocacy Network, a representative of the Islamic Council of Victoria, as well as a Palestinian academic.

The decision sparked mass debate in the blogosphere, with one blogger describing it as the latest example of a “culture of censorship within the Australian Jewish community,” while another defended Limmud Oz, saying it “includes sessions on the Holocaust, but need not include sessions that promote Holocaust denial.”

Limmud in Australia began in 1999 and now rotates annually between Sydney and Melbourne, drawing about 1,000 participants each year.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.