Limmud-Oz sets red lines against BDS
Where are the new red lines? Part II
25 May 2011
Limmud-Oz is Australia’s Jewish community’s annual festival of Jewish learning and creativity. Limmud-Oz is held in alternate years in Sydney and Melbourne. Limmud-Oz is a unique, volunteer-led, cross-communal and multi-generational event which caters for the spectrum of opinions in the wider Jewish community.
Congratulation Australia. Organizers of Limmud-Oz, the Australian arm of the global festival of Jewish learning, are facing a backlash over their decision to ban presenters who support a boycott of Israel. It was a particularly gutsy decision given that one of their sponsors is the New Israel Fund, known for being the financial backer of just about every Jewish/Israeli organization that sees smearing Israel for it’s own good as a legitimate goal. That list includes some that reject the legitimacy of Israel as Jewish democratic state, and are active in boycott and similar campaigns.
It’s about time someone set red lines about what an organization can say or do and still call itself pro-Israel and pro-Jewish. This is something I’ve been meaning to comment on for a long time. (see: Where are the new red lines? Part I) although I expected to use J-Street as my focus.
It is not enough to say that simply not supporting genocide is enough to call oneself pro-Jewish. Giving support, whether actively, as in the BDS movement, or passively, by demanding Israel unilaterally make concessions and not receive quid pro quo , gives support to groups, as Hamas, who DO support genocide.
So where do you draw the line?
The Limmud-Oz executive issued a statement last week saying it “believes that the BDS campaign is an attack on Israel’s basic legitimacy and harms the Jewish people as a whole … BDS therefore undermines this crucial aspect of Limmud-Oz.”
The statement added that 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.”
I’d like to suggest this definition of acceptable and not acceptable. Israel is a democratic state with a free, rambunctious press and an activist judiciary often at odds with the government and the Knesset†. Criticism of a government decision or aspects of Israeli behaviour is not the problem. The line is reached when actual, accessible damage to an individual Israeli, enterprise or organisation is promoted. BDS clearly falls into this category by putting at risk Israeli jobs (it should not be forgotten some of those jobs are Arab or even Palestinian) in the targeted enterprise and damaging the economy. That isn’t criticism that’s accessory to war against Israel.
But can’t I be opposed to the existence of Israel and still part of the Jewish Community?
Look around you. How many of the anti-Israel Jews actually have anything to do with the Jewish Community? I don’t mean those whose Jewishness comes out as a shield against criticism when blasting Israel and other Jews. “How can I be antisemitic? I’m Jewish (well sort of)”. I mean actually involved.
Read all about it:
- Presenters pull out of Limmud-Oz over boycott ban JTA 23 May 2011
- No Place for BDS at Limmud-Oz in Sydney Jewish Philantrophy, 22 May 2011 (leave a comment)
- Limmud Oz 2011 is compromised by banning people Larry Stillman, The Australian Jewish Democratic Society
- No place for BDS at Limmud-Oz J-Wire, 19 May 2011 (leave a comment)
† Not something I actually agree with. A subject for another time.