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No comparison between Limmud censorship and BDS

  • 2b-Letter6
To be fair, it is important for readers who wish to make an informed decision on this subject to google the three speakers that were disinvited to speak at Limmud to find out what they stand for. Jeremy Phillips, Mitchel Joffe Hunter, and Heidi Grunenbaum are activistis in support of Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) and are involved in inciting against our community, and delegitimising the State of Israel in the public arena.
by Gary Nathan, Johannesburg | Sep 06, 2018

It is equally important to note that BDS is considered an anti-Semitic organisation by many. Laws are being debated and enacted in democracies around the world, including the United States, United Kingdom, France, and Germany to curtail its activities.

Our community is no stranger to the violent disruptions of communal events by BDS activists. Violence and intimidation at Yom Ha’atzmaut celebrations, the singing of the words “Shoot the Jew” outside a Jazz festival at Wits, intimidation of students on campus during Israel Apartheid Week, and much more. Shashi Naidoo had her life threatened by BDS activists, forcing her to retract a statement that supported Israel. It is no wonder BDS activities are being curtailed in most civilized countries.

Professor Bilchitz and Judge Davis state that our community is “mimicking the worst behaviours of BDS”. This is an outrageous comparison. Our community has never been involved in the disruption of BDS events, nor engaged in violent intimidation tactics.

The writers highlight three “democratic flaws” in the “Limmud saga”:

1.    Herzlia succumbed to bullying, which is “profoundly undemocratic”.

Herzlia School supports the State of Israel, and it rightly could not tolerate an anti-Israel agenda on its campus. Limmud agreed it had overstepped the mark. This is its right, and it would be “profoundly undemocratic” if it were any other way.

2.    “Sitting with people does not endorse what they say.”

This statement may be valid. However, it surely does not mean that should Limmud, for example, decide to invite Holocaust deniers, our community would be obliged to offer them premises for the event. In this case, a pro-Israel community cannot be obliged to provide a platform for anti-Israel activists.

3.    “Attempting to excommunicate” these activists.

While I am not aware of any moves to excommunicate these activists, it should be clear by their own actions and their association with BDS that they have exercised their free choice to distance themselves from our community.

1 Comment

  1. 1 Shalom Bayitt 18 Sep
    Gary Nathan steadfastly refuses to acknowledge the virtue of a democratic regime of equal rights and human dignity.
    While this stance is increasingly fashionable I would argue it is a profoundly negative trend.
    Not “good for the Yidden”.

    Democracy begins at home. Our identity exists alongside, not above or below, others.
    We should all enjoy equal rights. We have to become objective.
    It is the height of hypocrisy to demand one’s civil rights whilst simultaneously denying them to others.
    Unfortunately this inequality is precisely what Nathan defends.

    He does not accept or understand the Bilchitz/Davis argument.
    In the Limmud ban discussion he weighs in with indignation, casting around for external enemies to associate with the banned presenters. He cites these perceived enemies as reason to exclude those who may hold disagreeable opinions.
    His argument is thick with emotive aspersions yet thin with fact.
    The presentations that were banned involved topics of local Jewish history derived from original research.
    No Holocaust denial, nothing irrelevant or extreme. Gary will have none of that.
    The banned presenters attend a different shul.

    It was Limmud, not BDS, that was intimidated and threatened with cancellation.
    Nathan fails to grasp the irony of criticising BDS intimidation of our community while simultaneously justifying pressure tactics against the same target.  He finds any comparison “outrageous”.

    “Our community has never been involved in the disruption of BDS events, nor engaged in violent intimidation tactics.” complains Nathan.
    The sad fact is that our community managed the bullying by itself - without BDS assistance.
    This is what Bilchitz/Davis meant by “mimicking”.
    Their comparison is accurate.  Gary Nathan is being outrageous.

    Gary, slow down, read the Bilchitz/Davis article carefully.
    They cover the issues thoroughly and sensibly.
    I understand you do not like the banned presenters.
    This is not a basis to exclude them or collapse the forum where they present.
    Therein lies the route totalitarianism.
    Not “good for the Yidden”.


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