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BDS Advocates and Sympathisers Accuse Limmud-Oz

May 18, 2011 – 10:56 pm139 Comments

Member of Knesset, Tzipi Hotovely, was a speaker at last year's Limmud-Oz in Melbourne

By Anthony Frosh & Rachel Sacks-Davis

Advocates of boycotts, divestments and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, Vivienne Porzsolt and Peter Slezak, have had their applications to speak at Limmud-Oz next month in Sydney denied. Limmud-Oz Program Director, Michael Misrachi, explained that this decision was made because BDS includes advocating a ban on Israeli academics and performers whereas Limmud-Oz supports engagement with Israeli academics and performers.

Porzsolt has called on Limmud-Oz to reconsider their decision, which she warns, “can only, once again, bring ridicule and contempt on the Jewish community.” Since receiving the email informing her that her application to speak at Limmud-Oz had not been successful, Porzsolt has contacted a number of publications including Galus Australis regarding the incident.

Despite Porzsolt’s claim that BDS “is not aimed at individual writers and academics but at academic and cultural institutions,” it is unclear why advocates of BDS are not themselves boycotting Limmud-Oz, which not only hosts Israeli speakers, but is associated with Limmud International, a global organization encompassing branches in Israel amongst other places.

In response to the claim made by BDS advocates that BDS distinguishes between individuals and institutions, Misrachi said, “The distinction they draw between boycotting institutions and individuals is disingenuous. If the Hebrew University of Jerusalem is boycotted, it affects academics from the institution. The reality of the BDS campaign is that it is part of a calculated attack on Israel’s legitimacy.”

Regarding the decision by Limmud-Oz, Porzsolt alleges, “the Jewish community leadership has chosen to oppose the free expression of ideas and misrepresent the facts.” Limmud-Oz has responded to these allegations, stating that they do “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 [Limmud-Oz] to provide them with a space to do so.”

In a statement, Limmud-Oz has added that it does not “shy away from the tough issues or from challenging points of view.” It points out that there are a number of sessions at Limmud-Oz that tackle the very issues of BDS and criticism of Israel.

Michael Brull, who states that he is against BDS but supports targeted boycotts against settlements, claims that Limmud-Oz have “dis-invited” Vivienne Porzsolt and Peter Slezak from presenting on the “grounds of inadequate loyalty to the Israeli government.”

Limmud-Oz emphasised that, “Criticism of Israel or the policies of its government similar to that levelled against any other country is entirely acceptable, and is an everyday occurrence within Israel itself. However … the BDS campaign is an attack on Israel’s basic legitimacy and harms the Jewish people as a whole, as does the singling out of Israel for unjust criticism.”

Although Brull stated that he was concerned that he too might not be welcome to speak at Limmud-Oz, the organisers have confirmed that he will be speaking at the event on a panel titled, “Beyond the Pale: Disagreeing about Israel.”

In the interests of full disclosure: In the past (and quite possibly in the future), Galus Australis has promoted Limmud-Oz events.

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  • Akiva says:

    I am the organiser of the session that Michael Brull was invited to participate in. Limmud’s acceptance of his involvement was much delayed – and given the noisome way that the matter has been handled – I have decided to to withdraw the session (although I suppose that it could be adopted by someone else). Aside from the matter involving Michael Brull, it would seem completely disingenuous to me to continue the session, given the nature of the bans.

  • Akiva says:

    and can I also say this – the session was intended to be about finding ways to disagree with eachother about core issues like this while being committed to the community. about ways to keep communicating. NOT about boycotts, or bans (which I think are similar equally absurd), or using the session as a personal soap-box.

  • andrew wirth says:

    Porzsolt and Slezak make an important moral distinction between boycotting individuals and organisations- presumably they will be content if Limmud boycotts all BDS advocates rather than just them.

  • Eli says:

    Porzsolt alleges, “the Jewish community leadership has chosen to oppose the free expression of ideas and misrepresent the facts.

    is that not what they want to do by boycotting these institutions?

    anyway they are full of left wing ideologues so perhaps maybe it’s better we don’t allow them to exchange their views and ideas

  • Sam says:

    If it is agreed by a majority organizers of Limmud Oz that the BDS is a form of de legitimizing Israel, then an attempt by Porszolt to claim that her version of the the BDS is not aimed against individuals, is merely self serving and utter nonsense. Limmud should not be about providing a soapbox for jewish anti semites to bash Israel. I for one am very pleased that the two have been un invited.

  • Vanessa Steinberg says:

    “Porzsolt has called on Limmud-Oz to reconsider their decision, which she warns, “can only, once again, bring ridicule and contempt on the Jewish community”

    That is utter garbage.
    Allowing them to speak brings ridicule and contempt on the Jewish community, not the other way round.

  • Malki Rose says:

    Totally agree Sam,

    Just because Limmud is an organisation which promotes and encourages healthy discussion does not mean it is one devoid of a strong moral code, a moral code which Limmud, like BDS Advocates or anyone else, is fully entitled to choose for itself.

    Furthermore, and in opposition to Porzsolt’s ridiculous claim that this will only bring “ridicule to the Jewish community”, Limmud’s rejection of these applications only clarifies, for those in any doubt, that it has enough self-respect to stand by its own code.

    Limmud is a celebration of Jewish Culture and Jewish ideas. A soapbox for BDS it certainly is not. It is not a viable, sensible or constructive political or economic gesture for any human being involved. Not when BDS so irresponsibly, destructively and naively threatens the lives and livelihoods of millions of Jews, Muslims, Christians, Romani, Druzim and Baha’i living in Israel, and the existence of the state of Israel itself.

    As if such a movement would be granted speakership at any Australian conference celebrating Australian culture, history and identity. Or anywhere in the world. (Such a movement in any western country would by now have been regarded as high treason and entirely prosecutable. Apparently the rules change where Israel is involved.)

    Limmud’s ethos and purpose are clearly defined and its principles internationally consistent. If Porzsolt and Slezak don’t agree with these principles, why apply in the first place? Why do they even want to be there? Perhaps they only applied so they could wave their arms around afterwards about how they were denied because of their views – knowing full well that they would be.

    Tomorrow I might apply to the Victorian College of the Blind on the grounds that i wish to be a part of their community. Although I am not blind I do have sore neck (does that count?), so perhaps the college wont notice how aptly sighted I am and choose to blindly (sorry) ignore this fact and admit me. But mark my words, if I am denied acceptance I do plan on crying discrimination from the underdog rooftops.

    I also plan on launching a BDS campaign against China for its revolting treatment of not just millions of its own people but also against hundreds of thousands of Tibetans and of course presumably I will be welcomed with open arms and a spa pedicure in Beijing at the Festival of Chinese Culture as someone who is just there for a friendly, non-threatening chat.

    After that I might secede Australia for its treatment of our Indigenous people and failure to paint its artwork on sufficient number of aircraft tails. I shan’t actually give back the land I am sitting on to the tribe to whom it belonged, but I will scream and shout about how others should. At the end of this I will still have the chutzpah to ask for medical, financial and infrastructural support from the Australian government.

    Porzsolt and Slezak should consider the following wise words…
    “I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member”
    – Marx (the fun one!)

  • ViviennePorzsolt says:

    As an addendum, it is ironical that Limmud Oz should want to enforce its maximalist idea of BDS because they tell us Limmud is included in BDS and as supporters of BDS, we should not be there. However, as has been pointed out, there will be discussion of BDS at Limmud. And neither of our presentations was about BDS. So the exclusion of Peter and myself as presenters is aimed at us as individuals. This smacks of excommunication. Pertinently, my proposed workshop was an exploration of the nature of the ‘Jewish community’. Who belongs? Who is a real Jew? Who says?

  • ViviennePorzsolt says:

    Ah, my first comments were lost. Again and again, BDS is misrepresented in the community. We are told, here by Malki Rose, that “BDS so irresponsibly, destructively and naively threatens the lives and livelihoods of millions of Jews, Muslims, Christians, Romani, Druzim and Baha’i living in Israel, and the existence of the state of Israel itself’. What histrionic nonsense! BDS is aimed at Israel’s defiance of international law and universal human rights. Is it so impossible to imagine an Israel that conforms to these standards? Continually reciting untruths like this is bad for our communal mental health. Exclusion of uncomfortable ideas is too.

  • ViviennePorzsolt says:

    Another point. while it is true that individuals from Israeli institutions may be affected by BDS – if they personally and publicly oppose the occupation and the violation of Palestinian rights, they won’t be – individuals as such are not. So, for example, when Ken Loach withdrew his film from the Melbourne Film Festival it was because the festival accepted funding from the Israeli government,not because Israeli films were on the program. So a lot of the opposition to BDS is based on misrepresenting it.

  • Sol Salbe says:

    I do not agree with Vivienne Porzsolt on BDS. In fact she was rather harsh in her criticism of my own position in the AJDS Newsletter. I’m also the only member of the community I’m aware of who debated a leading organiser of BDS in Australia on the subject.

    But isn’t there a bigger contradiction here? Porzsolt and Slezak, who are far form being the country’s leading advocates of BDS, are excluded while Samah Sabawi, who does fit the description, was welcomed to last year’s LimmudOz. This is a matter of some serious inconsistency. I would actually suggest that is this kind of inconsistency that would bring LimmudOz to disrepute.

    It would be better if the LimmudOz organisers were to held to account for their glaring contradiction, rather than have it swept under the carpet. They owe us an explanation.

  • Zeev says:

    As one who is comfortably critical of some Israeli policies: Well done Limmud – for drawing an important line. Free speech is only acceptable when it does not seek harm for others. BDS seeks harm, couched, often in hateful rhetoric or PC sophistication. This is an appropriate line. Well done Limmud Oz – you have my support.

  • andrew wirth says:

    Vivienne Porzsolt’s complaint of excommunication is ironic. She suggests that Limmud is excluding her participation not because of what she wants to say on this occasion (which she states is not about BDS), but because of her membership of a particular group (those advocating BDS). If that is not exactly what BDS does to Israeli academics and others (impose sanctions – excommunicate- not because of their specific views but because of their membership of a group- in this case national) then it would be interesting to hear a clarification of the difference. (I take it she doesn’t limit her BDS to members of right wing Israeli think-tanks or political parties). In fact BDS is worse, in that whereas advocacy of a point of view is a matter of choice, being born and living in Israel (other than making aliyah) is not. She at least has responsibility for her “group membership” which most Israeli academics do not.
    (I make no comment here on whether someone should be excluded by virtue of group membership – that is a different question)

  • Marky says:

    Mr Porzsolt, of course you were not planning to speak about BDS. It was going to be about indiscriminate suicide bombings, indiscriminate shelling, target murders of familes- fathers, mothers, children, babies. You were of course going to explain how all these come under “international law and universal human rights”.

  • Michael says:

    Sol – this decision was taken by the Limmud-Oz organisers in Sydney, which is independent of Limmud-Oz in Melbourne, as the major events alternate between each state each year. The Sydney decision is not retrospective.

  • Sol Salbe says:

    Michael, I’m aware that Sydney’s LimmudOz is different to Melbourne. Sydney present Seven Jewish Children while in Melbourne we were told that it was antisemitic.

    Glad to hear that nobody is making it retrospective — what would that be: removing Sabawi’s face from the pictures? erasing her name from the reports? The point is that Sydney is trying to establish a principle after the horse has bolted. It has bolted and gone. What I find even more annoying is the attempt to pretend that the horse is still there. The best example of this is Alan Gold submitting the same item published on GA to J-Wire some weeks later denying Sabawi presence in LimmudOz without alluding to the corrections published here.

  • Well I must be the only non-BDS supporter here who thinks that this stinks. Vivienne and Peter are quite obviously the two people that it would have been most interesting to draw into a discussion. By denying them the possibility of speaking, on the grounds (I suppose) that they might be good at it, Limmud-Oz has just turned itself into an anti-BDS soapbox. Without resorting to hyperbole (the claim that BDS-advocacy “harms the Jewish people as a whole” is ridiculous), what is so threatening about exposure to alternative ideas? Are we worried that we might become convinced?

  • ViviennePorzsolt says:

    I think the issue of inconsistency is a furphy. The issue was the furore about BDS at Marrickville Council which was very recent, after Peter and my proposasl for workshops/presentations had been accepted Peter and I took a public stand at Marrickville Council. And this is part of our offense – we spoke outside the Pale, among the goyim. Ah well, we have far more honourable antecedents than ourselves inthis kind of ex-communication. Remember Spinoza?

  • Mandi Katz says:

    and heres the problem – censoring people isnt wise, and creates martyrs.

    I am totally opposed to BDS and based on what Ive read from Vivienne Porzsolt I wouldnt be rushiong to hear her speak.

    Just spent two weeks in Israle where I was more than happy to buy Israeli products, but I dont believe in shutting down discussion.

    Its also a trerrible precedent – who is next to be excluded?

  • frosh says:


    Nobody at Limmud has denied anyone the right to speak. They are welcome to organise their own version of a Limmud and host whoever they want. An organisation is not under an obligation to give a platform to those who fall very far outside its values.

    Where would you draw the line, or would not draw it all? Should Limmud provide a platform speakers who deny the Holocaust? Or maybe Limmud should provide a platform for people who just want to boycott all Jewish owned businesses?

    And no, I’m not equating BDS with Holocaust denial; I’m just trying to find out whether you think at some point, a line needs to be drawn.

  • ViviennePorzsolt says:

    Anthony, the line drawn by BDS is very clear it is about international law and universal human rights. Why is it that everyone seems to be ignoring this fact?

  • frosh says:

    Mandi, no one has actually been excluded.

    Ms Porzsolt, despite the fact that she is involved in BDS as well as organising ‘flotillas’ (and this is after ‘flotilla’ members have tried to kill Israeli naval personnel), is still welcome to attend Limmud-Oz and ask questions in the sessions. She can buy a ticket like anyone else. But no one should be under any obligation to have Porzsolt as a featured speaker.
    Personally, I think there needs to be more quality control (irrespective of politics) at Limmud-Oz, not less.

  • ViviennePorzsolt says:

    In regard to last year’s flotilla,(not sure why you put flotilla in quotes. A flotilla is a collection of boats, a factual description of what is planned.)I am afraid you are a victim of Israeli propaganda if you believe they tried to kill the Israeli commandos. The commandos collected all electronic communication equipment on the boats. selected 2-3 minutes of footage out of hundreds they seized and broadcast this uncontested for around 72 hours. Yes I can attend Limmud Oz but apart from featured invited speakers, anyone can offer a workshop. And provided these do not breach basic values or universal human rights, that should continue without ‘quality control’. This would be the antithesis of the mission of Limmud internationally.

  • frosh says:

    VP writes

    “… provided these do not breach basic values or universal human rights”

    So even VP is in agreement that not everyone should be invited to be a presenter.

  • ViviennePorzsolt says:

    To clarify, I wasn’t invited to speak at Limmud, I offered in response to the call and was accepted,or at least I appeared on the program. Peter was approached to offer a session, and offered a presentation, not the same as an invitation to speak as a featured speaker. The call is wide open

    Of course workshops from neo-Nazis or others who oppose universal human rights should be rejected. I work for Palestinian rights explicitly in support of universal human rights, not just for Jews. And BDS is a non-violent way of fighting for those rights that anyone can engage in.

  • I don’t see any way of slicing this that doesn’t make it look like a rotten decision. Limmud Oz provides a forum that caters for “the broad diversity of opinions within the wider Jewish community”. That’s the broad diversity of opinions, mind you, which at this time includes BDS. Is BDS something that is now off-limits for debate?

    With power comes responsibility, and you can’t simply exclude somebody and then claim that they have the right to form their own community event and speak at that one. I am referring that to you, Frosh, because I don’t accept the substance of your defence. I also balk at the reference to Holocaust Denial (its very appearance being an instance of Godwin’s Law), which is something so obviously repugnant that it doesn’t bear mentioning. Again, is BDS that obviously repugnant to everybody in our community? Or do we just not like to discuss it?

    As for these “values” that people keep referring to: they wouldn’t be these ones, would they? I see nothing on that list that would necessitate removing advocates of BDS from the program, and if there is another list of values then perhaps it should be published. It should also feature a disclaimer: if your opinions fall outside the pale of acceptable Jewish values then you will not only be disallowed from presenting on them, but you will be prohibited from presenting on anything at all.

  • rachsd says:

    Hi Vivienne,

    Either you are completely ignorant about the notion of excommunication as it was applied to Spinoza in the 17th century, or you are making a dishonest comparison on purpose, because there is absolutely no common elements to the ban put on Spinoza and your “dis-invitation” to speak at Limmud as Michael Brull called it. In case this comparison was made out of ignorance, teaching in Spinoza’s synagogue would have been much more heirarchical than Limmud-Oz in the first place, so Spinoza wouldn’t have been allowed to formally teach a class on a topic of his choice in a formal setting regardless of the cherem. The ban meant that people were not allowed to interact with Spinoza, read his books, etc. None of the elements of that ban have been applied to you.

    In this case, being “dis-invited” has actually given you a lot more publicity than speaking at Limmud would have. Perhaps there are some other people who wish it had happended to them too, partially for that reason.

    The question isn’t about a ban or excommunication, but about whether Limmud-Oz should host speakerd who advocate for BDS. I am not going to make a comment on that right now.

    For a lot of people, I think it is hard to get past the many ironies in this incident. So I am curious about whether you may be able to help some of us to understand what practical measures BDS actually involves for you. I’m not so interested in the theoretical distinction between individuals and organisations here, but rather looking for some practical examples of things that you have boycotted that you would have used or attended or bought etc otherwise.

  • ViviennePorzsolt says:

    I am either completely ignorant or completely dishonest – oy! I was being rhetorical. Obviously it is not the same thing but I would argue that the impulse behind exclusion is exactly the same in both cases and very poisonous, just the mentality Limmud is designed to challenge.

    Indeed this silly decision draws greater attention and debate on BDS which I welcome.

    Yes, these days I don’t buy Israeli-produced goods or go to Max Brenner or Ikea – boo hoo!I go to the chocolate cafe in Bronte Rd instead. I oppose the strong political ties with Israel from various Australian elites. I oppose the military trade with Israel. I judge things on a case-by-case basis in terms of importance and effectiveness.

  • frosh says:

    “I go to the chocolate cafe in Bronte Rd”
    Oh, the tough sacrifices you make.

    A more sincere sacrifice would be to cease using the internet, since it is essentially impossible to use the internet without using software running on source code developed by Israeli companies and Israeli branches of American companies etc.

  • ViviennePorzsolt says:

    yes, this is a typical response of opponents of BDS. If u don’t boycott everything with an atom of Israeli content in it, u r not ‘sincere’ or ‘consistent’. I am intrigued how opponents of BDS want us to apply it ever more stringently. BDS is a non-violent political strategy to achieve a political end. As such, it is applied in context,with a view to overall political practicality, impact and effectiveness.

  • frosh says:


    For many in the community, BDS is on the same level as boycotting Jews in general. Under the paradigm of the “New anti-Semitism” the State of Israel is a proxy for the Jew.

    Yes, I understand you and others do not share this paradigm, but many people do.

    So I ask you again, should a platform be given to those who want to boycott Jews? If not, how are you drawing the line here?

    As Andrew Wirth has pointed out, BDS advocates want to deny people participation based on nothing else but nationality. They ought to not then complain when people don’t want to give them a platform on the basis of BDS advocates’ own exclusionary views. At least it is not on the grounds of nationality!

  • Malki Rose says:

    Just wondering Viviene, do you buy goods made in China?

    Or do you only engage in BDS relating to Israel?

  • ViviennePorzsolt says:

    Another anti-BDS canard! No I do not boycott goods from China. There are many unjust regimes in the world, and we cannot boycott all of them, though there are boycotts of Sri Lanka and Burma, for example. but as with South African apartheid, some injustices come to the fore internationally and as with apartheid, those opposed to the boycott say ‘What about such and such?’ It is a ploy to avoid dealing with the injustice at all. We cannot change all the world at once, just one bit at a time. For us as individuals we make our choices. I choose Israel/Palestine because that State commits its crimes in the name of all Jews in the world and I am implicated. I feel bound to say ‘Not in my name’.

  • ViviennePorzsolt says:

    Antony, the State of Israel is not the same as Jews or even Israelis. It is dishonest to say they are. Not all Jews are Zionists. Not all Jews see Israel as the guarantee of their safety. The paradigm of ‘the new antisemitism’ where anti-Israeli actions and words are antisemitic is false and dishonest too. The most devoted Zionists do not necessarily see Israel as without fault. Again I ask, is it so impossible to visualise an Israel that abides by international law?

    I get the feeling that many Jews feel it does not matter how Israel behaves so long as it exists. I can only say that as long as it continues on its militaristic intransigent path, it is heading for its own destruction. And this is hastened by the uprisings for democracy in the Arab world – the anti-democratic trends in Israel are against the tide and it will be washed away if it doesn’t change along the lines I and increasing numbers of Jews are urging.

  • Vanessa Steinberg says:

    “I choose Israel/Palestine because that State commits its crimes in the name of all Jews in the world and I am implicated. I feel bound to say ‘Not in my name’”

    And Vivienne, I say to you as a fellow Jew… NOT IN MY NAME!
    You are hereby formally ex-communicated.

  • Malki Rose says:

    There is a difference between seeing clearly the many mistakes made by the Israeli government and supporting BDS.

    Israel, is answerable to the same international laws as any other state, and its wrongdoings should be handled in the same way, with no state being better or worse or above criticism.

    But the current campaign being lead is not against some of the actions of its government, nor is it being lead against particular leaders who partake in them, the campaigns are bold, dangerous and sweeping statements against anything or anyone associated in any way with Israel and hurts all the people who live and work there and fails to recognise that Israel does much good for millions of people in the middle east, providing rights, services and safety not available any where else in the middle east!

    Gay and Lesbian Muslims come to Israel for safety, to a place where they will not be tortured, mutilated or killed, as many of their friends have. Romani and Armenians find safety and solace in Israel.

    Everyday millions of Christians and Muslims take their children to school and go to work in Israel, trying to raise a family and lead an honest life in the place they call home.

    BDS threatens their livelihoods too. And the survival of the State. BDS is therefore another gravely irresponsible act of war, not a mere gesture of anti-Israeli government sentiment.

    As you’ve said yourself, many Jews do not agree with the acts of Israel’s government and are entitled to do so, many Jews are not Zionists and are equally entitled in this regard. But the active engaging in BDS towards an entire state, land, array of peoples and organisations means another destructive step in a very wrong and dangerous direction.

    That Limmud, which supports Israel, draws its line here, is hardly surprising.

  • Reality Check says:

    Really, Slezak and Porzolt there are more than enough people out there who want Israel dbsed or what ever. But is it because you guys are Jewish and because of what is happenening in Israel and the occupied territories that you make this stance. You feel ashamed of being Jewish because of what your fellow Jews in Israel are doing? But if you really want to make a difference, rather than satisfy your conscience from afar, you really ought to move to Israel.

    The reality is that over the last 50 years or so, since the 67 war Israel has been under a baradge of international condemnation for defending itself. But in the meantime they allowed the fanatics in to have thier say about restoring Israel to the times of King Solomon and so on. And in the meantime we Jews, particularly Israel, have withdrew to what we have been for the last 2000 years; namely, ghetto dwellers. But this time the ghetto is Israel and Israelis are armed to the teeth to defend their ghetto.

    Sure enough there are real enermies who want to distroy Israel but Israel has pretty much danced to their tune in the way it defends itself.

    I could go on for hours but the reality is that the ashamed Jews (as in the Finkler Question by Howard Jasobson) want to voice their opposition to what their fellow Jews in Israel are doing to satisfy their guilt. But it won’t work, they’ll hate you anyway.

  • luke weyland says:

    The day when Israel treats all its citizens equally, when it stops preventing the free movement of its Palestinian citizens, when it stops the stranglehold it holds over Gaza, is the day when the boycott divestment and sanctions should end.

    Till then we must have nothing to do with that racist regime.

  • Malki Rose says:

    Luke do you live in Australia? On land stolen from underneath Aboriginal people?

  • Reality Check says:

    And, Malki Rose and luke weyland, who won’t even be recognized anymore as the original owners by the Baillieu state government.

  • Sam says:

    You stated:
    ” The paradigm of ‘the new antisemitism’ where anti-Israeli actions and words are antisemitic is false and dishonest too.”

    I am very sorry to inform you that the new anti-semitism has already been defined and described by others than you or me. You do not get an option to change the paradigm. What is your problem, you want to boycott Israel but then expect that you won’t be labelled, with something that is distateful to you? If you were any sort of “mensch” and I use this term very loosely here, you would own up and take responsibility for what you stand for.
    You can’t kick someone in the head and pretend either that they deserve it, or that your shoes were heavily padded and did no damage, or as it appears to me both options at the same time.

  • rachsd says:

    Hi Vivien,

    Thanks for your answer but I am a bit confused because of some conflicting messages I am getting. The MIFF was boycotted by Ken Roach because the Israeli government provided funding whereas the Israeli government doesn’t fund LimmudOz. (I’m not sure that this would apply to Limmud International including all branches, but ok, let’s assume that is true for now.)

    But Max Brenner is an independent business and not funded by the government. Ikea is not Israeli at all although there are branches in Israel (also in Saudi Arabia).

    Is the Hebrew University and all of the research coming out of it boycotted because it receives funding from the Israeli government?

    And how do the boycotts of singers who perform in Tel Aviv fit into this framework? Or do you oppose those boycotts?

    Or in fact is there no consistent principle involved, and perhaps BDS is just applied in whatever way creates the most publicity? In Ken Loach’s case by withdrawing a film? In this case, to be involved in Limmud as a presenter, or even better, once the opportunity arose, by sending out letters to as many publications as possible when your talk was denied from Limmud? Probably not the best way to get Limmud-Oz to reconsider their decision not to accept your talk, but a reasonable opportunity for self-promotion and promotion of BDS.

  • Vanessa Steinberg says:

    How do you feel about Omar Barghouti who is a founding, committee member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel and who is currently studying for a masters degree in philosophy at Tel Aviv University. He was born in Qatar, grew up in Egypt and later moved to Ramallah, which makes more Palestinian™ than most of the other Palestinians™ ?

  • Philip Mendes says:

    My only and brief comment is do you really think the Australian Arab or Palestinian community would be having this debate if a member of their community asked to present a viewpoint at a public forum in favour of a Greater Israel, and a permanent denial of national rights to the Palestinians living in the West Bank?

    If anybody from the non-responsible Jewish Left thinks I am exaggerating the analogy, then have a read of Omar Barghouti’s recently released book, BDS, published by Haymarket Books. Barghouti is one of the most prominent leaders of the BDS campaign, and was recently invited by New Palestine (sorry New Matilda) to comment on the Marrickville Council debate. A key chapter in his book is devoted to vilifying as racist the views of the Israeli peace movement including even those such as Uri Avnery who favour a complete Israeli withdrawal from every inch of the territory occupied in 1967.

    Philip Mendes

  • Akiva says:

    Simon, You aren’t the only anti-BDS person who thinks that this decision is ludicrous, ironically ridiculous and completely counterproductive. I do too – and I suspect that there are many more of us.

  • frosh says:

    Jenny/Akiva, the only real irony here is people who advocate an exclusionist ideology having the chutzpah to kvetch that they have now themselves been excluded.

  • Marky says:

    Porzsolt writes “BDS is a non-violent political strategy..”

    Rubbish. Non violent?! You as a Jew are giving encouragement to criminals involved in the indiscriminate and targeted murder and maiming of your own people. Nothing gives them more support than when Jews are also attacking their targets. You are totally complicit in these crimes!

  • frosh says:

    Sol, your “horse has bolted” logic is very weak.

    If it were revealed that a featured speaker at an AJDS symposium was actually a Kahanist, would that be grounds to invite more Kahanists?

  • Mandi Katz says:

    no Akiva – Simon is not the only one – I agree that it’s not a good precedent, constitutes censorship and is counter productive. I believe I said so.

    But one of the many reason I feel so strongly opposed to BDS is that there is nothing productive about it.

    And I find arrogant and inexplicable, Jews who appear to think that Israel is in the difficult and intractable position it is in because its citizens are, well, not as kind and smart as the Porzsolts of this world, and who disregard the historical and political realities and social and religious forces at play here, which are complex and make this anything but the sort of cut and dry situation which justifies collective punishment of all Israelis.

    So with that in mind, tell me Akiva, how much energy is the right amount to spend defending these folks’ rights to attempt to hurt Israelis and further alienate “middle Israel” – the majority of Israeli voters who are still in favour of a negotiated settlement to create a Palestinian state, and are still committed to a democratic Israel?

    Talk about counter productive…

  • Akiva says:

    I’m in the process of conversion.

    Mandi – I agree with you about BDS. Boycotts are stupid, counter-productive and, I think, target the wrong people. I personally am not aware of any global situation that they have helped (am a bit tired of the constant comparisons to Sth Africa, I’m fairly sure – without being really knowledgeable about it – that there was lots of other stuff going on there).

    I also think bans are stupid, counterproductive and, well, frightening. They do not work. You cannot ban ideas. And a good person does not want to be associated with those sort of people who have tried. They convince only those already convinced, and scare only those already frightened. And they bring the community into disrepute.

    For better or for worse, people with strongly dissenting opinions ARE part of the community. They want to be part of the community. The Limmuds that I have been to have included people who I, frankly, consider to be sociopathic, fascist, rascist bigots who have scared the pants off me (notably the one whose picture is at the top of this page). And I think that’s fine, as long as there is a balance made by including the opposite. Because both are important elements in the community, as well as everything in the middle. To say that one is ok and not the other is censorship and suppression. And it won’t make the unacceptable opinions go away. Why not engage them?

    If Limmud had allowed these people to present, they may have made a mild stir (I suspect that many people wouldn’t have gone to their sessions) and the issue would have faded. Perhaps people may have realised that those in each ‘camp’ aren’t insane monsters, perhaps not. As it is, battle-lines are hardened, and there is serious and outright hatred coming from both sides. How is that good? And all because Limmud decided that it had the right to define who is and isn’t allowed to be in the community. I think that, as a completely wasted opportunity, it stinks.

  • andrew wirth says:

    BDS is couched in the language of universal human rights – and how can Limmud be against that? But BDS is a movement with three officially stated aims, one of which is the implementation of the Palestinian right of return- this is about a one state not a two state solution- the universal rights espoused by BDS do not actually extend to the national aspirations of Jews. The discussion often gets sidetracked into discussing the means of BDS and forgets the ends.

  • Vanessa Steinberg says:

    “There are many unjust regimes in the world, and we cannot boycott all of them, though there are boycotts of Sri Lanka and Burma”

    So now you wonderful “Human Rights” activists are boycotting Sri Lanka? Good for you Viv, what a magnanimous, outrageously altruistic bunch of people you and your gang must be.
    I spent two months in Sri Lanka in 2010, just after Fonseca had outed the Tamil Tigers and as the election was happening for the presidency. I travelled up the North, as far as it was safe to, because the further you go the more of the aprox 2 million land mines planted by the Tamil Tigers you will have to avoid and, given that the monsoonal rains there cause slippage, its pretty hard to avoid all of them. Easier for me though because I stayed on tracks and stayed away, to the best of my ability, from all the signs everywhere with skulls and cross bows on them, signifying mines. Not so easy for the millions of Sinhalese though, because the Tamil Tigers, when they realised they were being outed, mined haphazardly in villages, outside houses, in their crop fields, near the water wells,hospitals, kindergartens and basically anywhere that they pleased. So those that didn’t get blown up by suicide bombers who were trained and armed by the P.L.O and their “noble peace prize winning leader”, the Egyptian Yasser Arafat, would get ripped apart by the land mines or slaughtered in one of the thousands of massacres that usually occurred on Buddhist holy days and on public buses taking people to pray. Now Yasser reminded me of Mahinda, the president of Sri Lanka, who stole billions of dollars in aid from his people and who basically rigged the election so that he won, killing anyone who disagreed with him. He has done nothing to help the thousands upon thousands of amputees begging in the streets for money, mostly wounded by landmines, or the blind beggars, mostly wounded by shrapnel. I witnessed one poor lady, begging at the base of Adam’s peak ( a Buddhist pilgrimage spot), whose face and eyes had melted. Then there are the animals wounded by landmines. Dogs with broken legs, monkeys with one arm and elephants missing legs from landmines. There is an elephant orphanage in one of the towns, set up specifically to care for elephants orphaned because their parents stepped on landmines or they were wounded during the fighting. Along the north there are many, many ruins of the ancient Sinhalese civilisation and its glorious empire and records of the three thousand years of invasion and murder and destruction of Sri Lanka at the hands of Tamil Indians who have been trying to invade the island for a very, very, very long time. Most of the present Tamil population of Sri Lanka were brought in by the British when they attempted to colonize the place, in the 1800’s because the Sinhalese were too proud to work for them. Also in the north I met many, many, many people who were coming and going in to Jaffna who said THERE WERE NO CONCENTRATION CAMPS FOR TAMILS THERE AT ALL. It was a load of bullshit and these people were impartial to the situation and would not benefit from lying about it. Every time you get on a bus in the north, the driver will let a chosen amputee or disabled person get on, before the bus leaves, so that they can read their story out to you and beg.
    Now in the South of Sri Lanka, 60,000 people were killed in the 2004 Tsunami and the billions donated in global, aid money never reached the survivors. Much less carnage from the war there, but intense poverty, with many people living along side the railway tracks, sleeping in the open air in what was left of their houses and waving to you as you take your eight hour journey from Colombo to Galle. Eight hours and all you see is the aftermath of a natural disaster and its effects on a population of people who have nothing.
    Thats right…zilch,zero,squat.
    Oh, but the reason why I went there is because my closest friend survived a Tamil suicide bombing in 1997 at the tomb of Buddha’s tooth in Kandi which killed about fourteen people and wounded hundreds of others. The day we arrived was the anniversary of that bombing and it was important for him to return and deal with what had happened. Maybe you should ask him how it feels to witness the decapitation of children through explosives and the to witness the mass injuring of praying pilgrims? Because thats the reason why you are boycotting Sri Lankan goods isn’t it? To stop Mahinda’s government from protecting its citizens from terrorists and to stop the evil Lankan’s as well and punish them for ending the civil war? Or are you boycotting Sri Lanka because of Mahinda and his corruption? Because if you are, the only people you will hurt are the Sri Lankans themselves and they need you and your crew to buy their products, because they have nothing, Viv, nothing.
    Now I know comparison is reductive but this had to be said,
    I have also travelled in 1989 and 2004, through Palestine™ and I can tell you for a fact, they are very fucking middle class. I have been to Budrus, Ramallah, Jericho, Nazareth, Gaza in 1989 and tried to get in again in 2004, but was refused. I have been lots of parts of the world and seen lots of unpleasant stuff and Palestine™ does not rate anywhere close to any of it. Even the head of the Red Cross came out two weeks ago and said “There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza”. West Bank arabs rank number eight on the scale of obesity according to the world health organisation and in Gaza they come in at number three. I have many friends who work and have worked in Haiti, Rawanda, Cambodia, Sierra Leone, Angola and every other brutalised and ignored part of the world and Palestine™ is fucking paradise by comparison.However, this doesn’t explain why it gets all the press and most of the aid unless its because its an effective distraction from the reality of how terrible most of the world really is, outside of fucking Bondi or Newtown or Brunswick or Ramallah or Gaza. Oh, I was also arrested at a “peaceful” demonstration in Budrus and have seen how violent and murderous the “peace” protesters really are. They can not masquerade their murderous, impotent rage by attaching it to a cause and you can not masquerade your gentrified fear by dabbling as a “human rights” hobbyist.
    Surely, but surely, there was a more gracious way of dealing with menopause than selling your people out, for a desperate, last shot at imagined notoriety? That is, if you are really Jewish at all.

  • Vanessa Steinberg says:


    “I’m in the process of conversion.”

    Then STOP.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    I’ve been away, but here is my take.

    This is a truly pathetic decision by Limmud Oz in really restricting debate in the community. I looked forward to a a stoush with Slezak and Porzolt. It’s an issue we have to have, as Paul Keating might have put it.

    The most galling thing to me is that in its attempt to protect the Jewish community from contamination, Limmud Oz thinks nothing of giving Vickie Janson of the SOciety a free go to promote here anti-Muslim invective.

    As Mr Frosh has said “Personally, I think there needs to be more quality control (irrespective of politics) at Limmud-Oz, not less.”

    Thus her session is “First the Saturday People, Then the Sunday People. This session will address the ‘ideological jihad’, or struggle of ideas, for the Islamisation of Australia, and the social cost of ignoring the rise of sharia in our midst.” Of course, don’t even think of having a Muslim respondent to such a session.

    Janson, who fancies herself an Islamic specialist, follows the line of professional anti-Muslims and fundamentalist theologians who collapse the current problems of Muslim extremism into a mirror image of their own narrowness.

    Remember that the Qsociety manipulated people into signing the anti-BDS petition in Sydney under their behest, but they at least failed in their attempt to sow hatred in Melbourne in the St Kilda community house-prayer group episode.

    Janson, allied with highly conservative Christians has thus published her invective in an issue of the Australian Presbyterian a magazine which also contains elements of traditional Christian anti-Semitism, but as well, plenty of invective against Muslims by the Caulfield-based Anglican minister Mark Durie. Durie has endorsed her work and appears to be a major influence on her work (she The depth of his amateur scholarship was graciously characterized in the respected Reviews in Religion and Theology as having “extensive and uncritical quotation or paraphrasing of the work of others”.”

    The dangers of foot fungus being caused by Muslims at the St Kilda Alma Road Community House appeared to be an obsession, illustrated with lurid photos online and Janson is part of this scary Kulturkreis that sucks in gullible people. Bill Muehlenberg (that’s right, he of the Australian Family Association, and a contributor to Quadrant Online), also pops up on these sites and with various words of wisdom, and goes into detail about Islam on his own website. He is particularly concerned about the consumption of halal meat by Christians, where he argues it is akin to eating meat sacrificed to a false god, and by implication, a conspiracy to Islamise our bodies. This is very similar to a line being put forward in the US. Interestingly, he doesn’t have a go at Jews for kosher food or circumcision, but then, in the world of the evangelicals, Jews are prayed for allies (who of course, in the end of time, will convert). Nor does he appear to know that at least in orthodox Jewry, there is an ablution ritual (tevilah) carried out on sacred days. Not a word of complaint.

    Janson, like others, has every right to be concerned about the plight of Copts and other Christian minorities in the Middle East, which may have something to do with her strong feelings about Muslims. But it should be noted that western Protestant missionaries in the past were never particularly enamored of the eastern Churches with their suspect practices.

    I going to quote, with a bit of modification, what I put online some months ago–

    I is not hard to recognise stinker “scholarship” and the bad effect it has on people who have had little exposure to fellow Muslim citizens in all their diversity. In the same way, I have been critical of the work on Shlomo Sand on the history of Judaism casts too many aspersions on the character and culture of the diversity of Jews in the world. Thus, bigotry that stigmatizes all members of a community on the basis of gross oversimplifications cannot accepted as contributing to the informed public debate or the body of scholarship.

    There is some excellent writing which puts this all into context, thus, in Islam (Key Concepts), Routledge:

    “In Islamophobia Islam and Muslims are subject to special scrutiny because they are understood as a threat to Western civilization. Islamophobes usually consider violence an essential component of Islam, and fundamentalism and terrorism are equated with Islam. Many Islamophobes assert that they are not equating all Muslims with Islamic radicalism, but in practice they focus on extremist elements to the neglect of more mainstream Muslim voices. Some will acknowledge that not all Muslims are terrorists or sympathizers, but may then claim that this is because they are not truly religious Muslims. In this way, Islamophobes echo certain Muslim fundamentalists who consider only their own understanding of Islam to be correct.

    Islamophobia is found in the United States among neoconservatives, some Christian evangelicals, and some pro-Israel groups. Islamophobia is also deeply influential in some segments of the United States media—Fox News is particularly noteworthy—and among right-wing lobbyists and politicians who understand Islam as a potent threat to America, Christianity, and “the West” more broadly. Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney, for instance, in 2005 advocated surveillance of mosques as a means of combating terrorism.

    The best analogy for Islamophobia is the Cold War “red scare.” Now, Islam has replaced communism as the enemy, but the portrayal of both as inherently insidious, threatening, and with the ultimate aim of world domination remains the same.”

    The entry on Islam and Christianity in the Oxford Encyclopedia of Christianity also has an excellent discussion of the evangelical denigration of Islam. Seek it out in your local library. The article notes the ‘chilling effect’ (p. 648) this has had on the development of good relations. Janson and people like Durie are certainly representative of those who contribute to a chilling effect and certainly so in Australia.

    And of course people like Janson in the fundamentalist wing love the Jews, but only for one reason…bring on the Messiah.

    And so, to take up a theme, if Slezak and Pozolt bring Limmud Oz (and it seems the entire Jewish world) into disrepute, what do we make of Janson’s presence and her and her supporters (include the Fred Nile mob) theological politics?

    So I wonder, is the panel I am scheduled for with on dissent in the community on or off? I think I know what some of will be talking about. I’d like to be contacted by the organiser and other speakers.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    I must learn to spel. I must recover from jet lagggg….

  • Akiva says:

    I’m pretty clear about that: I don’t want to be involved in presenting a session on ‘dissent’ for an organisation which bans people. I also don’t want the session to be used as anyone’s private soapbox. Happy for someone else to take it over, if they think they could prevent the latter.

  • Anony mous says:

    Thanks for pointing us to Vickie’s session, Larry. Unlike Vivienne, unless Janson identifies as Jewish, the Limmud-Oz guidelines should have excluded her from presenting (see below), even before Porzsolt and Slezak were more explicitly banned.

    The first three points on guidelines given to Limmud-Oz stream coordinators, would each at first glance invalidate Vickie’s application, if her Facebook membership of “Global Tabernacle” and “WITH JESUS ON MY SIDE I AM A WINNER!” is anything to go by.

    1. Speakers should be Jewish (by their own definition). Exception may be made for someone identified as having particular knowledge about a Jewish issue or an issue of Jewish interest, which the stream coordinator feels would positively contribute to the Limmud-Oz program.

    2. Speakers should not see themselves as also belonging to another religion: i.e. “Jews for Jesus” and “Jewish Buddhists” are excluded.

    3. All sessions must be Jewish in content. Presenters who do not have a particular Jewish contribution may be utilised as part of a presentation which covers a Jewish theme.

    Having said that, I don’t think there is much basis for excluding anyone from presenting at Limmud-Oz on the basis of their ideas and beliefs, but especially not if they identify as Jewish and are presenting Jewish content.

  • Anony mous says:

    Sorry. Late at night– obviously there need to be reasonable limits on the scope of people who can present. Some basic humanitarian indicators have been suggested above. No intention to elaborate right now.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    What I have sent to Michael Misrachi the program manager, and I have asked for a fast public response.

    “By banning Peter Slezak and Viv Porzolt as threats to Jewish security
    you have damaged what I thought would be a good and healthy discussion @
    Limmud Oz. I don’t like Slezak’s views, characterizations of Zionists,
    or blanket approach to BDS and I think Viv Porzolt is over the top at
    times, but that’s not the point. Robust debate is critical to the future
    of Israel and its relationship to the diaspora. Instead, you are further
    isolating the Australian Jewish community from the critical examination
    it needs to go through.

    What particularly makes your decision completely hypocritical is that
    you have given a platform –I assume on free speech grounds–to one of
    the new faces in ethnic/religious hatred in Australia, Vicky Janson of
    the QSociety. She and her buddies are the contemporary version of the
    League of Rights (I assume you know who they were? ) I can only refer
    you to
    and if you can’t accept anything from New Matilda or the broadsheet
    reports on the activities of her and her ilk, you might like to speak to
    Deborah Stone of the Anti-Defamation Commission about their activities
    in St Kilda.

    As an anonymous poster put on Galus Australis after I noted your
    hypocritical support of Janson—” Thanks for pointing us to Vickie’s
    session, Larry. Unlike Vivienne, unless Janson identifies as Jewish, the
    Limmud-Oz guidelines should have excluded her from presenting (see
    below), even before Porzsolt and Slezak were more explicitly banned.

    The first three points on guidelines given to Limmud-Oz stream
    coordinators, would each at first glance invalidate Vickie’s
    application, if her Facebook membership of “Global Tabernacle” and “WITH
    JESUS ON MY SIDE I AM A WINNER!” is anything to go by.

    1. Speakers should be Jewish (by their own definition). Exception may be
    made for someone identified as having particular knowledge about a
    Jewish issue or an issue of Jewish interest, which the stream
    coordinator feels would positively contribute to the Limmud-Oz program.

    2. Speakers should not see themselves as also belonging to another
    religion: i.e. “Jews for Jesus” and “Jewish Buddhists” are excluded.

    3. All sessions must be Jewish in content. Presenters who do not have a
    particular Jewish contribution may be utilised as part of a presentation
    which covers a Jewish theme.”

    So what is the excuse and justification? Doesn’t Janson represent a
    threat to public order and community relations, or is she considered a
    useful ally? You are not obliged to give her racist drivel exposure,
    drivel that harms the already fragile relationship between the Muslim
    and Jewish community.


    Thus, I really don’t think I should invest my time and effort in coming
    because I don’t want to been seen as a useful example of your tolerance
    –you are already trotting out my name on a press release.

    I look forward to a fast, and public response response from you.


  • What I find amazing in the proxy BDS debate that has taken place in these comments is that when it comes to Israel, the pro-BDS lobby are suddenly experts in international law, and very quick to declare beyond any reasonable doubt that Israel is in breach of it. Once that is established, the justification for a boycott is very easy for them.

    However, their legal basis should be challenged. The international law issues relating to how Israel deals with non-state actors and disputed land are very complex. I’m no expert, and I’m guessing that neither is VP.

    I wouldn’t mind hearing a couple of genuine legal experts talk about or debate this very issue on Limmud-Oz.

  • andrew wirth says:

    David, for a rigorous analysis of exactly this issue I would recommend this link


    a scholarly analysis from the organisation Metzilah

  • andrew wirth says:

    PS I also think on balance, Porzsolt and Slezak should, in principle, be allowed to speak at Limmud in an appropriately chaired and moderated session

  • Reality Check says:

    What? Not even one comment to my comments. Looks like no-one is taking me seriously. Well, fair enough.

  • Philip Mendes says:

    BDS actually stands for “Beat up, demonize and strangle” Israel and Israelis.

  • ViviennePorzsolt says:

    There is a very simple response to BDS from Israel and Israelis and avoiding it personally: join those great Israelis struggling in solidarity with the Palestinians eg demonstrating weekly against the Wall stealing more Palestinian land; and generally standing up publicly for their rights. Israelis who support Israel’s defiance of universal human rights can only expect opposition from those who support them. It is not about Israelis v Palestinians but about people who support human and national rights and international law, and those who don’t. Which side are you on, Philip?

  • andrew wirth says:

    Hi Viviene

    “struggling in solidarity with Palestinians” is sounds nice but means very little unless qualified- the rhetoric of BDS does not distinguish between solidarity with Palestinians who want an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel (which I expect most people on this post support) from those who demand the right of 4.7 million refugees to return to pre- ’67 Israel, which I expect most people on this post abhor. The latter is an explicit and key element in the BDS movement and equates to the destruction of Israel as a space for Jewish national self-expression.
    Where do you personally stand on this question?

  • ViviennePorzsolt says:

    Hi, Andrew, I describe myself as a non-Zionist. I am not a Zionist because I don’t think a nation state is a guarantee of safety for us as Jews. I think our collective solidarity and solidarity with others is a better guarantee. Further, I think the extreme attachment to Israel of many Jews as a guarantee dis-empowers us – all power is projected onto Israel and this does not in fact, in my observation, make Jews feel strong, but as is evidenced in the BDS debate, many feel very vulnerable and threatened. However, I am not anti-Zionist, because I think Jews are as entitled as any other people to a space for national self-expression, to use your words. I have a problem with a lot of Palestinian rhetoric that appears to deny or oppose that. However, historically, Zionism had many tendencies. Cultural Zionism did not aim at a state. Bi-national Zionists sought to live side by side with the local Arabs and found ‘a space for Jewish national self-expression’. Historically I believe the form of Zionism which won out was that for a Jewish majority state that denied Palestinian national rights and its historical development has been militaristic, chauvinist and colonialist. So real existing Zionism has been a two-faced Janus: at once a national movement for Jews and a racist colonialist regime. Zionists tend to see only the former face, its victims only the latter. Avi Shlaim has shown how in the early days of the state the front-line Arab nations were quite disposed to come to an accommodation with Israel, but Ben Gurion and his colleagues insisted on the militarist road, the ‘Iron Wall’ of Jabotinsky. You cannot get round the historical fact that the price of a Jewish homeland has been the dispossession of the Palestinian people.So to answer your question, I would prefer a single bi-national state as much more practical in terms of land, with the national rights of both Palestinians and Jews articulated and protected politically. However, I see a 2 state solution as a necessary step along the way. I think present day Zionism is much too attached to a single form of Zionism – a state for the Jews,not for all its citizens,requiring a Jewish majority. And this means opposition to the Palestinian Right of Return and the whole gammut of systematic institutional discrimination against Palestinians in Israel and the ongoing military occupation with all its oppression. If the question is posed as how can there be created a safe place for Jews and a space for Jewish national expression, then a range of solutions can imagined. A homeland for Jews does not require that it be a homeland for Jews only. We need to get out of the violent box of contemporary Zionism and imagine a future where both Palestinians and Israelis can live side by side.

  • TheSadducee says:

    Porzsolt’s whole comment above is a farrago of dish including wishes, dreams and hopes, mixed with a spoon called naivety and including a few drops of gullibility for savour.

    Take this for example..

    “I am not a Zionist because I don’t think a nation state is a guarantee of safety for us as Jews. I think our collective solidarity and solidarity with others is a better guarantee.”

    -which worked remarkably well for the assimilated German Jewish community in the 1930’s-1940’s didn’t it?

    If this is any indication of the arguments put up by some BDS proponents then let them speak, as this was particularly unthreatening.

    The fact comes down to this – if you are calling for the type of BDS that is being suggested by these types, and you state that part of your motivation is human rights concerns, then you should, to maintain moral credibility (at the minimum) be also simultaneously asking for similar measures to be taken against the Palestinian Government and associated institutions which are also involved in human rights abuses, national rights abuses and crimes against international law. Anything less and you are applying a double-standard with regards to rights.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    The issue in this discussion should be free speech at Limmud, not the rights and wrongs of BDS

  • VP wrote “… stealing more Palestinian land …” Another myth that most people have ceased questioning. This prejudicial language implies a foreign invasion of a nation state, which certainly did not happen. The partition of Transjordan into an Arab and Jewish state was done by the British. Was there any Palestinian land then?

    The foundational “truths” that campaigns like BDS are based on are very flawed indeed.

  • Andrew – where’s the executive summary? I’m going to fall asleep pretty fast tonight reading that after Shabbat dinner!

  • frosh says:


    Limmud-Oz as an organisation, just like AJDS or Galus Australis, has the right to determine what speakers or writers they wish to promote.

    It’s not really an issue of free speech. All of us in Australia (and in Israel) have that. Sadly, I can’t say the same for those under Hamas rule.

    BDS advocates are welcome to start their own alternative “ASHamed Jews” version of Limmud, and promote or boycott whoever and whatever they want. I’m sure there wouldn’t be nearly as much diversity of opinion as at Limmud-Oz.

    But hey, that’s fine, it’s a market place of ideas.

    Disagree with me if you want to, but then, as a show of good faith, I expect to see your AJDS promoting Kahanists.

  • TheSadducee says:

    Considering that you regularly hijack threads Larry that’s rich coming from you, though I commend your chutzpah.

    As I noted earlier, let them speak, what is the threat from the topic?

    Freedom of speech is a good thing usually, especially in civilised company – which most of the bourgeois participants are, however it doesn’t mean that you’ll get quality in the speech. If anyone goes outside of acceptable parameters (eg. inciting hatred, violence etc) then that can be dealt with by the organisers and/or police.

  • TheSadducee says:


    Porzsolt is probably referring to the ICJ advisory opinion from 2004 concerning the wall combined with the UNGA181, UNGA194, UNSCR242 and UNSCR338.

    Seems fairly straightforward that there is Palestinian land.

    I’m not sympathetic to the quality of Porzsolt’s arguments although I think some of the aspects are correct.

  • andrew wirth says:

    David – the paper does start with an executive summary – the article is compelling, but as you imply also somewhat dry and academic, so if you want to get through it I suggest you either dont drink too much kiddush wine …. or else drink a lot!

  • andrew wirth says:

    Hi Vivienne,

    Your use of the phrase “the violent box of contemporary Zionism” appears to so one-sidedly assign blame and ignore the long, complex history and dynamic of the conflict that it makes it hard to know where to start. Just a few responses:
    You don’t think a nation state is a guarantee of safety for Jews. You are correct a nation state does not provide a guarantee, just as seat belts don’t guarantee surviving a car accident – do you wear seat belts?
    You state that solidarity with others is a better guarantee. Do you have any evidence for this – those who disagree with your reading of history can cite a few thousand years of evidence (Spain and more recently Germany and Vienna for starters). Is this view of yours just hopeful speculation or do have evidence to support it?
    You say you are not anti-Zionist, and that you agree Jews are as entitled as any other people to a space for national self-expression. Which option is more likely to provide this – two states side by side or a single bi-national state? You assert that a homeland for Jews does not require that it be a homeland for Jews only. You appear to be confident that Jewish rights and freedoms would be preserved and protected in a binational state with the Palestinians, after 60 (or 120) years of bitter antagonism. Given how unlikely this outcome appears to be on the face of it, your confidence must be based on extensive historical precedent of warring nations who have successfully combined within one state. Can you share those historical examples that most inspire your confidence?
    You repeatedly equate past and present injustices to Palestinians within Israel and in the territories (which can be considered contingent rather than essential to the Zionist project) with opposition to the Palestinian Right of Return. These are separate issues, and conflating them does violence to any reasonable analysis of the conflict. Debate over the territories and the position of Israeli Arabs is a debate about justice – the insistence on the right of return and establishment of a binational state is about the destruction of a Jewish homeland.

  • Anony mous says:

    Frosh: “Limmud-Oz as an organisation, just like AJDS or Galus Australis, has the right to determine what speakers or writers they wish to promote.”

    Limmud-Oz has formerly allowed a variety of people to speak, and ideas to be presented (some of which were banned in Melbourne, as noted above). Limmud-Oz 2009 was extremely successful, and there were some people upset by views expressed on all extremes of the political spectrum, and no doubt others annoyed by entirely unpolitical features (too nitpicky, too academic, too fluffy, etc.). Nonetheless, it wasn’t broken, and it didn’t need fixing.

    The decision made by the Limmud-Oz committee to ban people on the basis of their politics does not accord well with Limmud’s principles. Its leadership is largely on a volunteer basis, and so has no organisational guidance but those principles, and any correspondence with Limmud International, which there may or may not have been. This basis makes it incomparable to Galus Australis, let alone AJDS.

    Moreover, the decision was made to exclude people after sessions had been invited under the assumption of inclusivity. Some people who had been heavily involved in Limmud-Oz signed up on the basis that it was the most open forum for ideas that our Jewish community has. Some of them can see that Limmud-Oz has decided to not be what it used to be, and want out.

    Except for “all publicity is good publicity”, I don’t see this decision as increasing the attendance or involvement or lively atmosphere of Limmud-Oz 2011, but I do see it as estranging liberal elements of the community who share the sentiment driving Porzszolt and Slezak but do not necessarily agree with their approach; deflating the enthusiasm of a group of Limmud-Oz volunteers, and sabotaging its own principles of volunteerism and inclusiveness of ideas.

  • ViviennePorzsolt says:

    Hello David Of course the land is being stolen – every day. People have ownership papers. Being in a nation state is irrelevant to this.

    Since Limmud has a very strong policy of inclusiveness, of course it is a matter of free speech. Of course its principles are being flouted, especially when, as Larry reminds us,a platform is being given to a proponent of the Q society.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Please see the response below from Michael Misrachi

    Dear Larry

    Excluding as presenters two people who publicly advocate for a movement whose leaders pledge the destruction of the State of Israel does not mean Limmud-Oz is averse to robust debate or unwelcoming of criticism of Israeli policy and action.

    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. The BDS campaign’s call for a cultural and academic boycott of Israel undermines a crucial aspect of who we are and what we do.

    Limmud-Oz remains a forum for healthy discussion and includes a broad diversity of opinion. We certainly have people with a wide range of views on Israel, including very critical ones. Naomi Chazan, the President of the New Israel Fund, is a case in point.

    I hope that you will attend Limmud-Oz. Feel free to raise for discussion this issue in your session. It would be a shame if you chose to withdraw from the opportunity to have your views heard at Limmud-Oz, though I respect that this is your prerogative.

    Vickie Janson’s session has been withdrawn from our program. Your are correct that the discrediting of an entire religious group is not consistent with the principles of Limmud.

    I hope you – and others who wish to discuss this issue – will join us at Limmud-Oz.

    Kind regards

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Actually, I forgot to ask, was Janson cancelled by order of Limmud, or did she withdraw?

    I assume Michael is reading this site.

  • Philip Mendes says:

    Vivienne: I am on the side of Israeli-Palestinian peace and reconciliation via a two-state solution, and totally opposed to the fanatical BDS movement whose key propagandist Omar Barghouti absurdly advocates the destruction of Israel and the genocide of its people in the name of human rights. Which side are you on?

  • ViviennePorzsolt says:

    Philip, I am not entranced by Barghouti. But given that you consider that ‘BDS stands for “Beat up, demonize and strangle” Israel and Israelis’ I would not take your word for what he stands for overall and would need to investigate further. Anyway, any movement has a range of views and proponents. Why take the most extreme view as an excuse to ignore the substance?

  • Michael says:

    Anony mous: Limmud-Oz continues to be the most open forum for ideas that our Jewish community has and it is ridiculous to say otherwise. From the very first meeting of programming volunteers, the issue of which presenters Limmud-Oz will and will not accept was discussed, and it was understood that not everyone would be accepted as a presenter. For the record, the leadership of Limmud International was consulted and accepts our position.

    Larry: Janson’s session was withdrawn by Limmud-Oz.

  • Sam says:


    You said: “Anyway, any movement has a range of views and proponents. Why take the most extreme view as an excuse to ignore the substance?”

    Are you really that naive to think that Philip or any of the anti BDS proponenents have been put off only because of Barghouti?

    You also said of Barghouti:
    “I would not take your word for what he stands for overall and would need to investigate further”.

    Are you serious, that although you have expressed some very strong views on GA re your support of BDS, you have not bothered to investigate the entire political agenda of the purported founder of this movement? Isn’t that a bit reckless of you?

  • ViviennePorzsolt says:

    The movement was founded by over 100 organisations of Palestinian civil society. I do not judge a movement by single individuals. So often in this debate, someone finds some extremist antisemitic statement among the Palestinians or Moslems and then uses that to dismiss the whole movement. It is just a ploy and not honest debate on the merits of the issues.

  • Philip Mendes says:

    Vivienne: Barghouti is universally acknowledged as the key leader of the Palestinian BDS movement.

    But even if you don’t accept that the most prominent BDS proponents in Australia are Jake Lynch, Antony Loewenstein, John Docker and Ned Curthoys – none of them are either Palestinian or Moslem. But all of them love to attack the Jewish community not just Israel, and talk about the power of the Jewish lobby and money etc.

  • Anony mous says:

    Michael describes Porzsolt and Slezak as “two people who publicly advocate for a movement whose leaders pledge the destruction of the State of Israel”.

    Yet I might now be defined as “a volunteer for an organisation which censors people because of their political/humanitarian beliefs”, given my involvement in Limmud-Oz. (I was already describable as “a member of an ethnic/religious community that sidelines its homosexuals”, etc.)

    In both cases, it is a reputation tarnished by association. And in both cases, it is a question of perspective. P & S haven’t necessarily signed on as members of an organisation, nor does that very loose “movement” have official leaders to my knowledge. P & S are proponents of BDS not because of who leads it or their goals, but because they see it as an appropriate political means to achieving a humanitarian end; their manner in performing BDS is very personally defined, as Vivienne has stated above. Unlike so many things in the Jewish community, Vivienne did not just join a club and tow its line. But, Michael, you and commenters here have twisted her beliefs to accentuate its difference from your own, and to falsely associate her with others who agree with her on some points.

    You also suggest the “leaders” are bent on “destruction of the State of Israel”. Yes, there are certainly people and organisations that advocate BDS who are fundamentally and violently opposed to the State’s existence. But surely the majority advocate a two-state solution, a one-state solution of a state for its citizens (with differing measures of Jewishness according to the proponent), or the idealist’s no-state solution. None of these cases can be categorically defined as the state’s destruction. Doing so is to blind ourselves to many creative solutions to one of the biggest political struggles of our time.

    And again, P & S weren’t to speak on this topic.

    BDS isn’t intended to destroy, so much as to induce positive rethinking and reaction. It may or not be an appropriate method, but I don’t think that’s for Limmud-Oz to decide.

    Finally, there is a very strong reason for why they SHOULD be included: simply, because they ARE part of our Jewish community.

  • Akiva says:

    I was at that meeting. The issue of acceptable attitudes to Israel was not raised. If it had been, and if the possibility of people being banned because of them had been raised, there is no way I would have agreed to be involved.

  • Anony mous says:

    Michael: I was at that meeting. Israeli political opinion was never suggested as a criterion for selecting presentations. Nor was it suggested that presenters would be excluded, rather than presentations (except insofar as the stated principles applied, and none of them regarded Israel).

    The fact that something as blindingly obvious as a session by a Christian preaching Islamophobia was initially accepted — while there was a targeted exclusion of Jews talking Jewish topics — makes a joke of the selection process.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    I’m about ten comments behind here. What Andrew says about the end goal of BDS is spot on. So indeed, why go out on a limb to defend the right of people to undermine the viability of an Israel that gives Jews ongoing self determination and safety. And the how of BDS matters too – again, why defend the right of these folk to have their say when they propose a strategy that disregards the power of discussion and debate. They want it all ways – the right to impose blanket bans on discussion and academic and intellectual cooperation with Israelis of all persuasions but to retain all rights in all forums to speak with whosoever, whenever and wherever (even, bizarrely, alongside Israeli public figures, as would have been the case at Limmud) if it suits present purposes.

    So Vivienne, the consistency issue is not a deflection – it’s a matter of principle and one you haven’t really addressed except to say that its a canard of your critics.

    As to your imaginings. Well they are very nice – shame they have very little to do with historical or political reality. But I digress into the merits of BDS itself and what its proponents aim for, rather than the issue at hand – about whether BDS advocates should be given a platform at Jewish forums.

    To me it seems unwise and wrong to exclude members of our community who wish to speak at Limmud from doing so, but my goodness, have they no shame? it takes more front than is decent to want to speak at a forum alongside people whom they generally adovcate should be excluded from all public discourse.

  • ViviennePorzsolt says:

    Where would we be without our dreamings and imaginings?

    ‘If you will it, it is no dream.’

  • Larry Stillman says:

    I will add, it if wasn’t for my pointing out of Vickie Janson, would she still have been welcome at Limmud Oz?

    And actually, in the interests of free speech, she, Slezak and Porzolt should have been probably left in the program. I would have enjoyed questioning Ms Janson’s knowledge of various matters theological, political and philological.

  • Vanessa Steinberg says:

    Shabbat Shalom BDS bitches…

  • ViviennePorzsolt says:

    I love u 2 Vanessa!

  • Larry Stillman says:

    For what it is worth.

    “Limmud Oz 2011 is compromised by banning people”, a blog post by a Sabbath breaker–( http://ajds.org.au/node/377)

  • Elliot says:

    I don’t think it is a good idea to uninvite people from a debate because you don’t agree with their views. And I don’t think it helps anyone’s cause – I think it would have been good for Vivienne et al to be exposed to those members of the community who have taken great offense from her stand. I this do not support the “uninvite”.

    But I cannot stand all of the squawking from Vivienenne about her freedom of speech being abused. BDS aims to eliminate from discourse all Israelis who do not accept the BDS definition of what makes one an acceptable Jew. Someone who like myself is strongly opposed to most Israeli policies would not qualify as I refuse to describe Israel as an apartheid state. If I was an Israeli I would be the subject of a boycott that would not want me to play international sport representing Israel, or speak at an international academic conference as a lecturer in an Insraeli university. Unless I agreed 100% with their requirements.

    Now BDS supporters think this is perfectly fair which I guess is their right. But it is a bit rich to come on all persecuted when the same things happens to you.

  • ViviennePorzsolt says:

    Eli, while the BDS movement does describe Israel as an apartheid state, I do not agree with this without qualification. In the occupied West bank, it is apartheid plus. Anti-apartheid activists have said it is worse than what they lived under in terms of the checkpoints and general strangulation of Palestinian economic, social and political life. In Israel proper, the fact of the right to vote, right to stand for the Knesset etc and the presence of Arab politicians in it do not make an apartheid state in my view. However, there are apartheid-like features: the discriminatory land laws, the fact that it is a state of the Jews not of all its citizens;the directly discriminatory right to return/migrate to Israel, are all pretty indefensible.

    Larry thank you for your piece on the AJDS, however there is no way of leaving a comment. I would question your assertion of the ‘continuing trauma of Jewish history’. I think several generations later there is a lot more at work than the direct impact of the Holocaust experiences. There is so much culture of victim-hood in our community, a culture that has served the Zionist movement which,I believe, has kept the wound open for its own political purposes and blocked healing. Just as violent men must be held responsible for their actions and are expected to manage their anger, and not hold their victims responsible for it, I think we as a community need to take more responsibility for our fears and manage them, and test them against reality. We must stop trying to suppress ideas and actions that stimulate the traditional fears. In Marrickville, it was said that an action which ‘upset’ a section of the community was divisive and therefore should be abandoned. But since a lot of the ‘upset’ was based on quite incorrect information, should such fears hold such sway both within the Jewish community and outside it?

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Viv, I gave my opinion on AJDS, so I’m not going to get into further arguments here about BDS or the justice of Jewish claims/traumas etc. I said there is a culture of trauma or something like that. I didn’t say it is right.

    In any case, one of the reasons for no feedback/comment facility on AJDS is because we have no people resources to moderate/stop spam etc. There are always nasty hackers etc. It is as basic as that. FB is a much easier space at the moment.

    I really feel the free speech issue is critical and that is what I want to focus on in discussion in this page and the immaturity/defensive of the Jewish community.

  • andrew wirth says:

    I addressed some (I think pretty fundamental) questions to you regarding key assumptions that seem to underly your position on BDS. I take your lack of response to indicate you either have overlooked them or don’t have an answer (or maybe you have boycotted me!). I am interested enough to put them to you again.

    1. You state that solidarity with others is a guarantee of safety for the Jews. There is so much historical evidence against this – do you have ANY evidence for your assertion? And why is solidarity with others incompatible with having a state as well- for example ex-pat Brits and Italians live in solidarity with their fellow Australians despite the existence of England and Italy?

    2. You appear confident that Jewish rights and freedoms would be preserved and protected in a binational state with the Palestinians, after 60 (or 120) years of bitter antagonism. Is there ANY evidence for this view? Are there real life precedents you can cite- “dreams and imaginings” are insufficient when you are intervening politically in a way that puts other people at risk.

    3. Debate over the territories and the position of Israeli Arabs is a debate about justice – on the other hand the insistence on the right of return and establishment of a binational state is about the destruction of Jewish political autonomy (unless you have a strong answer to (2) above).

  • frosh says:


    If this was a pure free speech issue, and you were serious about free speech, you would be championing the ‘rights’ of Janson to speak at Limmud as much as you are championing the ‘rights’ of the BDS crowd.

    But instead, as per an earlier comment of yours, you are claiming the credit for having Janson dis-invited.

    Personally, good riddance to Janson and the BDS crowd. And well done to the organisers for implementing some quality control.

  • Elliot says:

    Larry, I don’t believe you can separate the issues of free speech and BDS. If you are going to criticise the uninviting of the pro-BDS speakers from Limmud-Oz on the grounds of free speech, it is not going to ring true unless you also crticise the proponents of BDS for attempting to deny free speech from all Israelis apart from those who agree with the BDS position.

    I would also add the trauma is not in itself right or wrong. It is something which exists. The question is how to deal with it.

  • Andrew – the article speaks to the right of return; do you have one that addresses the legal status of the disputed land post 1967? I have seen some stuff about Israel’s legal obligations to protect its own citizens above all.

  • Elliot says:

    Just to illustrate my point. This is an extract from the NSW Greens BDS resolution:

    “refraining from participation in any form of sporting event,
    academic and cultural cooperation, collaboration or joint projects
    with Israeli institutions or teams except those that publicly oppose
    Israel’s apartheid and occupation policies; ”

    The right of free speech granted to Israeli citzens by the BDS crowd is somewhat more restictive than the policies of the Limmund-Oz organisers.

  • andrew wirth says:

    David – oops – when I read your post I had the right of return foremost in my mind and so interpreted your query in the same light – check out Metzilah but I havent seen them address this one
    happened upon http://israeltheviewfromhere.blogspot.com/2011/02/forgotten-legitimacy-of-israel.html
    the other day which is a concise summary of the “paper trail” of legal frameworks applied to Palestine since WW1, but know nothing about the blogger or the accuracy of his interpretations – certainly far from academic.

  • larry stillman says:

    Frosh, in my ajds blog, I actually argue for Janson being able to present her stuff on grounds of free speech, despicable as she is. Slam her (I hope).

    On BDS, my argument is that there is a full spectrum of opinions re Israel in the BDS movement. Not everyone is Barghouti. this doesn’t mean that I agree with BDS absolutism by the way. THe faults of BDS people do not need to be repeated by ‘us’.

  • andrew wirth says:

    Larry, there may be a range of views held by those who lend their support to BDS, but the nuances of these individual views are likely lost in the overall effect which will be to lend support to the official platform http://www.bdsmovement.net/ and contribute to delegitimisation of Israel in popular consciousness

  • Reality Check says:

    Spot on by whoever.Free speech. Do those Israelis who will be boycotted because of the proposed BDS have the right to speak? No. Free Speech; my bottom.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Andrew, I don’t disagree with you on this. This is in part why I am so guarded about generic BDS

  • letters to the age says:

    Protest update:B.D.S

    There have been two protests at Melbourne Central targeting Jericho and Max Brenner and other “Pro-Zionist” establishments.

    There was a visible police barricade at every entrance on the weekend in the City Center ,causing chaos and delays to customers and staff.

    This crowd then went to the Max Brenner store, where they sat in a group akin to student political protests at university,chanting loudly.

    The protest was handled well by the police with no violence and harm to the public.

  • Eli says:

    Are you able to set up threaded comments. This will enable people to answer a specific post and make it a hell a lot easier to follow peoples answers.

    Just a suggestion


  • letters in the age says:


    Helen Razer where are you?

    This woman should write for this blog, another suggestion Galus and incorporate ideas for the b.d.s movement.


  • Hi Eli,

    We have considered introducing threaded comments in the past, but decided not to because it makes it difficult to see which comments are earlier/later and often comments are not just responding to one person/thing amongst other reasons.

    If someone does want to respond to a particular comment, it is possible to refer to the name of the commenter and the date/time of the comment or quote directly. In the future, we may add numbers to the comments.

  • @letters in the age – was there any press coverage? I heard this happened a while back and someone suggested I try to organize a “Buycott” by Jewish CBD workers as a countermeasure.

    @GA – numbered comments would be great

  • letter so the age says:

    Yes, last weekend, no press by the mainstream papers as yet.

  • letters in the age says:


    The above is the facebook group that organised the protest with photos and details of their events.

  • letters to the age says:


    Great discussion on an “interesting” subject but the views on Israel and being Jewish were fascinating.

    A must see!

    Thanks a.b.c for great television.

  • letters to the age says:


    Thinking ouside of the square on being Jewish and Israel.


  • Onya HJ! says:

    Wow, Howard Jacobson is simply so sensible! His sage, succinct and cogent comments on Q&A ought to be widely publicised!

  • herschel Landes says:

    any chance of a debate at this forum?? Should Limmud Oz – a festival of Jewish Learning and Culture, entertain speakers who advocate of boycotts, divestments and sanctions (BDS) against Israel? Given the response above: it should be a sell out. HL

  • Ralph says:

    I am delighted that BDS proponents are not welcome under the Limmud Oz tent.

    BDS, as its initials indicate, is a “Bigoted Double Standard” attack on Israel. Since I have family in Israel, I also see it as a personal attack on my family.

    I am also pleased that BDS will be discussed as part of Limmud Oz. Just as you don’t need a pedophile on a panel to be able to discuss child abuse, or a murderer to discuss crime, you don’t need to listen to a BDSophile to gain insight into BDS and how to defend against it.

    The chutzpah of BDS proponents like Vivienne Porszolt, who are happy to boycott others but squawk “free speech” when they feel excluded, brings to mind the boy who, after murdering his parents, asks the court for mercy because he is now an orphan. “Free speech for me but not for thee” is the cry of hypocrisy.

    I am delighted that Limmud Oz has taken a stand in helping expose BDS for the “Dreck sandwiched between BS” that it is.

  • ViviennePorzsolt says:

    Hi, Ralph, I am sorry that you rejoice at the exclusion of people with unpopular views from a communal gathering. If free speech means anything, it means inclusion of the views you particularly dislike, not the ones you feel comfortable with.

    I am continually disappointed and frustrated at the way people persist in misrepresenting the BDS campaign. I think it completely reasonable, for example, to exclude an individual in their capacity as representative of, say,Bar Ilan University that has built a full university campus on the colony town of Ariel on occupied Palestinian land. If an academic who happens to teach at Bar Ilan comes, BDS does not apply to her/him because it is aimed at institutions,not individuals as such. If you oppose Israel’s illegal actions, I would have thought that you would think such a non-violent action quite acceptable. But perhaps you support Israel’s illegalities or are not opposed to them? Then let us debate that, not BDS. Shalom

  • letters to the age says:

    Great, the festival is sold out, so those not in the “Jewish loop” miss out.

    grumpy face.

  • frosh says:

    Letters to the Age,

    That sounds false to me.
    Where did you get this info from?

    The website, which you can reach by clicking on the banner advert on Galus, is still selling tickets.

  • letters in the age says:


    Thanks for that mate!

    Just looked at the website and saw the details, must have been a bad computer in the hotel that said tickets were sold out.

    Great article by Dr Phillip Mendes on The Drum and even greater comments from the wider public!


  • Reality Check says:

    Ms Porzsolt, when you campaign for a BDS of places like Syria who can torture to death a 13 year old kid, Iran that executes gays, Sudan who have slaugthered hundreds of thousands of people then I’ll take you seriously. Until then you remain an apologist Jew with very little else to do.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Reality check.

    I can’t speak for Viv, but that is a damned unfair comment. Because I mind read, several hours ago I put up a post on Facebook and the Ajds site as a comment to preempt such attempts as yours to make such aspersions.

  • ViviennePorzsolt says:

    Hi, Reality Check, indeed there are many horrors committed by states against their citizens and others, some worse than others. Israel is not even the worst. But Israel claims to act in the name of ALL Jews including me, so I feel compelled to act. This silly tactic was used all the time against the BDS of apartheid in South Africa: why not boycott X, Y or Z? Those who argue like this were just apologists for that dreadful regime – as you are an apologist
    for the crimes of Israel.

  • frosh says:


    Irrespective of your hatred of Israel, wouldn’t you agree that the fact that your previous couple of sessions that you presented at Limmud Oz attracted roughly 4 and 3 people respectively is a good reason to not have you as a presenter again?

  • ViviennePorzsolt says:

    Antony, I don’t ‘hate’ Israel – I hate its current inhumanity and crimes. I oppose them so that Israel can be a place I can be proud of. Pre-bookings are scarcely a measure of the ultimate attendance. In any case, since when was popularity a measure of the value of a point of view? We had over 80 people to the public meeting we organised for Jeff Halper when a Jewish venue was withdrawn. This suggests some concern in the community for the efforts of the communal leadership to limit the parameters of discussion.

  • letters in the age says:

    Why don’t you invite Alan Dershowitz one year?

    Just a thought, play nice and fair people.


  • ViviennePorzsolt says:

    Why? Do we invite David Irving in the interests if fairness in relation to the Holocaust? Fairness and balance is not about attending to all points of view as if they were of equal value but assessing all points of view against the same criteria, in this case human rights, international law and values of humanity.

  • frosh says:


    I don’t think precious financial resources from not-for-profit Jewish organisations should necessarily go to funding a space for presentations that the constituents are not interested in. For example, the fact that a pro-BDS speaker would obviously be a popular attraction at an anti-Semite convention doesn’t mean it will attract an audience at Limmud.

    However, I’m glad we have some common ground. Just as there is no obligation for Limmud to fund a platform for David Irving, so there is no obligation to fund a platform for BDS advocates such as yourself.

  • ViviennePorzsolt says:

    Except, Anthony, you wilfully persist in equating BDS to antisemitism when it is aimed at the crimes of the State of Israel. Israel has only to change course to one conforming to international law to stop BDS in its tracks. It appears that your notion of a Jewish homeland is inevitably in breach of international law and human rights. There are other options. Negotiation 101 says to hold firm to your interests ie security for Jews or a Jewish homeland and be very flexible about the solutions ie 1 state/2 state; Jewish majority and privilege/equality of all.

  • Reality Check says:

    VP, Since when did Israel claim to act in the name of all Jews? Israel doesn’t even claim to act in the name of all Israelis. Israel being the Jewish state means that Jews have a place on this planet,that’s all. There are lots of things that I object to what Israel does, in the same way I don’t like what our government here is going to do with refugees, but I am not ashamed of being Australian. Even the mad ultra-right who, if Israel should ever strike up a deal with the Palestinians, would not hesitate to do away with Mr. Bibi don’t put me off Israel. It still does not make me feel ashamed of being Jewish or of Israel or Jews everywhere. There are many Israelis who oppose Bibi and the settlers and so on, that’s called democracy. But while we live here away from all the problems in Israel and the mid-east, without making a real contribution, we are morally limited in our criticism or praise of Israel.

  • ViviennePorzsolt says:

    Of course Israel acts in the name of all Jews. It claims to be the state of the Jewish people – therefore it does act in our name. I am not ashamed of being Jewish and I encourage some Israeli peace activist friends that they should not be ashamed either because they are standing up for what is right.Because |Australia is doing some pretty hideous things does not make me ashamed of being Australian. I have cause to feel ashamed only if I do nothing. I think we Jews have an absolute obligation to speak up if Israel is doing wrong, not defend it regardless.

  • Eli says:

    Here is a solution that will fix all the above

  • Leo Braun says:

    “Ah, my first comments were lost” [ViviennePorzsolt]. “This smacks of excommunication. Pertinently, my proposed workshop was an exploration of the nature of the ‘Jewish community’. Who belongs? Who is a real Jew? Who says”?

    • Ironically, Aussie nation has been symbolised as independent, liberal, egalitarian society. Thriving democracy downunder, where escaping tyranny newcomers are given a fair go, because Aussies backed the underdog and cherished mateship values. Where people generally didn’t care what one’s religion or race was, unless contrary zionist ethos the newcomer happen to be unaffiliated or independent Jew. Encompassing scores of Israeli refuseniks who renounced the state of war and made Australia home, only to face thought-police impaired internet communication, not mentioning mainstream media role.

  • Leo Braun says:

    Antony, “the State of Israel is not the same as Jews or even Israelis. It is dishonest to say they are. Not all Jews are Zionists. Not all Jews see Israel as the guarantee of their safety“! [ViviennePorzsolt]

    • Having learned the hard way apropos, when circumstances compelled on me to venture into safe haven enclave for persecuted Jews in Galut. Only to face nasty officials while sustaining terrible humiliation and harassment within the ruthless intimidation tactics. As with added insult to the injury I was told on 29-08-00 by the Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister’s Counsellor apropos sought 88 year old father’s birth certificate. Obligatory for the survivors nazi atrocities, before they be bothered to proceed in contacting Jewish officials in Poland, if not for the fact that I was unable establish contact with my father. Unknowingly to me, “being taken care of”! Eventually, the Chairman of the Central Jewish Welfare Commission in Poland declared: “Taking into account that your father has not been interdicted the wishes of his next of kin have not any legal importance in this case“!

  • GG says:

    Catching up onLimmud Oz news.
    Well, well, Vivienne, who pushes boycott, doesn’t like being excluded for being a deluded Jewish antoiSemite.

    Tell Me, Vivienne, when did the West Bank Palestinian Artabs become citizens of Israel? They don’t have a right to go into Israel, they are foreigners like everybody else.

    How much do you know about Islam?

    Do you know that Bharghouti, who advocates boycott of Israel, is originally from Qatar and studies at Tel Aviv University?Barghouti unashamedly studies in Tel Aviv. He consumes Israeli goods en masse and says he would take Israeli live-saving medicine should he ever require it.

    “I have no choice. I don’t know what you think about Arabs but we are not suicidal,” was his answer to my question on that last point. He was being slightly disingenuous as my question was not about Arabs, but him specifically.

    That said, there are more than just a few Arabs who are suicidal and who think nothing of taking the lives of the innocent with them in the act, but when have you heard any condemnation of this from the so-called protectors of human rights within the BDS movement?

    I couldn’t understand why, out of choice, Barghouti studies in a country that he so despises. He also studied in America, the one country he blames for its rock solid support of Israel. But he argued that he has the right to be in Israel because he is a refugee and has the right to return there. He was born in Qatar and spent his first eleven years in Egypt.

    On the question of consuming Israeli goods, once again, he argued he has no choice as he lives in Israel.” (from richardmillett’s blog)

    What disgusting hypocrite and thief.

    What you wrote about the Gaza flotilla of last year is ridiculous.
    Have you seen the Istanbul Declaration?

    Vivienne and whoever supports a boycott, you’re nothing but accessories to murder, hype it up as you will. You’re also not very bright, putting up would-be sophistry in place of historical knowledge and research, especially into international law, which it might surprise you to learn HAS NOT been breached AT ALL by Israel.
    But then, why look up this stuff when you can pose as an injured martyr with unused brain cells?

    Limmud Oz did the right thing. And for the record, I don’t think Samah Sabawi should have been allowed to speak at the Limmud Oz last year in Melbourne.

    I see you’re off on another Murder Flotilla, Vivienne, this time on a Canadian boat. Don’t get too close to all those jihadis will you, they’re not that discriminating in the Jews they kill.


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