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Exclusion of BDS supporters from Limmud a missed opportunity

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I’m writing to express my extreme disappointment, indeed anger, that the three so-called anti-Israel BDS supporters were banned from presenting at Limmud in Cape Town this last weekend.
by Ronnie Scheurenberg, Johannesburg | Aug 16, 2018

I, many of my friends, and the people I spoke to at Limmud in Johannesburg, agree that not only was it against the principles of Limmud to exclude them, but it was actually a lost opportunity. The quotes by Raymond Schkolne in an article in the SA Jewish Report opposing the exclusion of the speakers expresses the case very well.

The attraction of Limmud is that it provides a venue where a completely diverse range of opinions can be expressed, discussed, and argued on all matters that are of interest to members of the broad Jewish community of all persuasions. It doesn’t mean that we all have to agree with them, or even give their organisations legitimacy.

Here was an opportunity to listen to these people with their controversial views, maybe to learn something we didn’t know, indeed to tell them things they may not have known, and to persuade them of the error of their ways. The attendants of Limmud are not afraid to argue with the presenters. I, for one, would have welcomed this opportunity.

In principle, this case is no different from the attitude of Chief Rabbi Dr Warren Goldstein that he and his associates will not support or attend Limmud because non-Orthodox Jews are represented and heard there. Limmud goes ahead anyway, and long may that continue. Next time, I suggest that the conference be held at a neutral venue to avoid “hosts” like Herzlia School dictating aspects of the programme. 

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