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It’s about Freedom of Choice, not Freedom of Speech

May 22, 2012 – 10:14 pm132 Comments

It's hard too see what positive contribution this could add to Limmud Oz

By Anthony Frosh
As happened last year at Limmud Oz in Sydney, advocates of the destruction of the State of Israel have had their application to host a session rejected. And just as happened last year, these same advocates and their supporters have been complaining via social media that they have been censored by the Limmud Oz committee. They claim that their free speech has been violated, and they also claim that it is a violation of Limmud’s principle of pluralism.

However, these claims do not hold up to much scrutiny.

The organisers misrepresent themselves as peace activists. In actuality, they are rabid anti-Israel activists, who call for the destruction of Israel. The organisers should at least have the decency to be honest about who they truly are.

The organisers are in favour of full boycotts, divestments and sanctions (BDS) against Israel (including academic boycott) and therefore it is disingenuous of them to claim the moral high ground with regard to pluralism or free speech.

While Limmud is pluralistic, there of course needs to be limits.  For example, Limmud includes sessions on the Holocaust, but need not include sessions that promote Holocaust denial or take a pro-Nazi line.

Likewise, just because Limmud has some sessions that delve into the Arab-Israeli conflict, it does not mean that Limmud is under the obligation to accept all applications for sessions relating to that conflict. It is also worth mentioning that Limmud Oz will include at least one panel session involving Palestinians and AJDS members focussing on Israeli-Palestinian Dialogue .

This is not about Freedom of Speech, as the complainants try to frame it.  Rather, it’s about the freedom of an organisation to choose to whom it grants a platform. Similarly, at an event at which one of the session organisers spoke recently, where the crowd marched under the Hezbollah flag, one can safely assume that Zionist voices were not welcome. And that is the fair prerogative of the organisers of that event.

Furthermore, these people who support calls for the destruction of Israel are free to organise their own day of learning (or day of hatred at it would likely be). One can only imagine the very limited level of pluralism that would be on display if that were to occur.

In the interests of full disclosure: Galus Australis is involved in promoting Limmud-Oz events. However, the above is solely opinion of the author, and is unrelated to any association between this publication and Limmud Oz.

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  • Eli says:

    Perhaps someone should point those “peace activists” to the video of the interview with Norman Finkelstein – known for his outspoken criticism of Israel and advocacy of Palestinian rights.

    He spoke frankly about the BDS and Palestinian Solidarity movements. He described these movements as cultish and dishonest and essentially agreed with the long standing criticisms of these movements – that support for the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment movement is basically a call for the destruction of the State of Israel.

    Your readers can find the video here
    on my own site or directly here

  • Ilana Leeds says:

    Thank G-D there is beginning to be some common sense out there. Limmudoz is promoting Israel and Jewish learning as well as debate on issues vital to us all, not stifling it or choking it off.
    chatzlocha raba! Love to go but btween my son’s footie and Shabbat we will see it only on line if there are pod casts of the lectures or learning sessions.

  • Harry Joachim says:

    “While Limmud is pluralistic, there of course needs to be limits.”

    Yes, but what basis is used by the organisers to define what those limits are?

    Of course, 100% of the Jewish community would be rightly offended if Limmud Oz was to include a Holocaust denier. However, a much smaller proportion would be offended if a BDS group participated.

    Is it, therefore, that the organising committee’s criteria is simply to avoid offending a majority of the community?

    If so, then the event for all intents and purposes is a toothless tiger that seeks to stimulates debate of “safe” topics that are not overly controversial.

    I am not, of course, advocating for the inclusion of neo-Nazis and other fringe groups who would deny the Holocaust. I am, however, arguing that perhaps the committee should broaden its criteria to include Jewish groups who do not belong to the mainstream by allowing discussion of topics that many would disagree with.

    For example, Limmud could host a carefully moderated debate between pro- and anti-BDS activists. This would be likely to stimulate broader discussion and help position Limmud Oz as an event open to all types of Jewish-related thought and activity.

  • Vivienne Porzsolt says:

    Oh dear, here we go again! The workshop was to be a panel of some Australian contributors to a new book Beyond Tribal Loyalties: Personal Stories of Jewish Peace Activists. It was to focus on the personal experience of those who challenge |Israel and go ‘beyond the pale’. It is not about BDS or supporters of BDS, though a number of the contributors do in fact support this as a non-violent way of pressuring Israel to abide by international law.It explores the pressures on all of us in the community not to buck the party line. It is not about the ‘destruction of Israel’ but it certainly is about making Israel/Palestine a very different place based on justice. It seems the very title of the book is inflammatory. We must all be ‘loyal’. I am ‘loyal’ but to a different kind of Jewish community, It can be argued that critics like myself are much better friends of the Jewish people than those who put their heads in the sand and expect Israel’s military might to save the day.
    Israel’s present course can lead only to its destruction. It is just not sustainable.

  • Reality Check says:

    Dear Viviene, you miss one small but vital point. The Arabs don’t want Israel there, irrespective of how accommodating Israel may be to their demands. Iran, which doesn’t have any claims to Israel and they’re not even Arabs; they are building a bomb to achieve that objective of wiping out Israel.

  • TheSadducee says:

    Ms Porszolt is loyal to a different kind of Jewish community – the kind that, under the banner of claimed persecution and community intolerance, deliberately exclude points of view that they don’t agree with in their websites, publications, events etc.

    Oh, doesn’t sound that different from the usual Jewish community does it when discussing Israel, eh Viv?

  • David Langsam says:

    Dear Ant,

    Your editorial is somewhat over-the-top and a little misguided.

    I was (accidentally) excluded from the Limmud Oz excluded ‘Beyond Tribal Voices’ panel, but sadly the double negative doesn’t make me IN-cluded.

    As you well know from my Facebook postings, Ant, I am as strongly anti-BDS as anyone can be and have personally battled Mad Senator Lee Rhiannon both on the phone and by email, as well as debating any others that support this counter-productive waste of time. I have also noted that Prof Noam Chomsky also considers the BDS a waste of space.

    I am an openly Rabinite Zionist and say so very clearly in my chapter of the book. It is almost amusing that I am the sole self-proclaimed Zionist in Beyond Tribal Voices, but I can assure you from reading the entire book, that it is not monolithically anti-Israel, although there are a couple of writers who say stuff that I abhor, and probably for the same reasons you do. The book has a diverse range of opinions – as one would expect from literary Jews.

    I believe that the group made an application for a slot at Limmud Oz in time and in the appropriate manner and that it could be good for Limmud Oz to have such a panel discussion. I also accept that Limmud Oz can do as it pleases and has the right to do so and if it does exclude such a group, understands that it is seen to do so, regardless of others’ opinions.

    As I am not one of the ‘organizers’ (Baruch Hashem!) I shall not personally take issue with your sentence: “they are rabid anti-Israel activists, who call for the destruction of Israel”. Had you included me in that group it could be off-to-defamation-court-we-go.

    But at the top of this comments box, Ant, you say “be nice, keep it clean” and I think that sentence is neither nice, nor clean.



  • TheSadducee says:

    Chuckle – you have to repress a giggle when you read someone talking about defamation when they refer to an Australian Senator as Mad…

  • David Langsam says:

    Sadducee – how come there’s no ‘like’ button?
    Sorry, force of habit with Rhiannon.

  • TheSadducee says:


    I have to agree though that the broad characterisation is hardly fair to everyone involved – though I would ask why would you associate yourself in print with people whose views that you abhor on a topic and not be concerned about the potentially self-defamatory aspects of that association?

  • David Langsam says:

    When I was invited to write about my efforts as ‘a Jewish peace activist’ I had no idea who the other writers were and there are just two of I think 25 with whom I am uncomfortable.
    Given my previous experience, perhaps you are right and I should have asked.
    That said, there are a couple of seriously interesting stories in there, particularly from former IDF personnel and one from a child of 1948.
    But there is no real ‘guilt by association’ as you imply Sadducee.
    I told my story. I don’t see any contradiction between support for a safe homeland for Jews and protection of the rights of others including Palestinians – a point made repeatedly by other contributors. It is BECAUSE we were brought up Jewish that we value all human rights and that extends to the Palestinians we displace.
    Like I said, I’m a Rabinite (Habonim/Labor) Zionist and many of us bought the Paul Newman version of Zionism – at peace with our neighbors.
    I’m not as optimistic as I once was – or to quote President Shimon Peres to me: “A pessimist is merely an optimist with more information.”

  • TheSadducee says:


    I was careful to try to avoid imparting the guilt by association trope, however perhaps I missed my mark?

    Certainly a distinction can and should be drawn between differing views, however accepting to be in the public eye with views that you yourself find abhorrent (for whatever reason) suggests that you have made a value decision to accept your name being linked to those views (in the case of the publication) irrespective of public perception.

    In addition, if you consider those views abhorrent, then how unreasonable is it to suggest that others may also find them abhorrent and this raises the legitimate and natural question in their minds as to why you would involve yourself in this and with such views?

    Consequently you bear the weight of negative perception in this matter.

    I haven’t read the work, but I would suggest though that a prudent individual would certainly examine the content of a publication they were to be associated with before agreeing to it.

    We are usually judged by the company we keep (for better or worse), especially if the company is kept in public.

    Best wishes though – I hope the work makes a positive impact though I will retain a healthy scepticism on its effects on internal community discourse, primarily because of the uncomfortable aspects that you refer to and which damage (perhaps unfairly) the credibility of the overall intention.

  • David Langsam says:

    Yes, tend to agree with all your have written above.

    It will be a bit of an excuse for the usual suspects to grab a moment of reflected limelight and pillory something they haven’t read – while the writers struggle to tell their story and worst of all the community again learns that if you question the behavior of a bad Israeli government you will be castigated.

    As for keeping company with some people whose opinions I may abhor, have you not ever been in a Shul? Does everyone at any Shul have the same opinion? Or more clearly, if I vote for a party for its environment and social policies, does it mean I necessarily sign up for their law and order policies?

    I think the book is important, but the controversy isn’t.

  • Seraphya says:

    Firstly, Harry you showed exactly why some sessions might be excluded. “pro- and anti-BDS activists”, the biggest problem there to me seems to be the activists. They would be targeting Limmud Oz as activists not for the “limmud” goal of learning and education.

    “Of course, 100% of the Jewish community would be rightly offended if Limmud Oz was to include a Holocaust denier. However, a much smaller proportion would be offended if a BDS group participated.”

    I don’t actually think that is true. What proportion of the Melbourne Jewish Community who are non-supporters of BDS actively want BDS to be given a platform at a Jewish event? I think it is much smaller. I don’t think that 100% would be against even a Holocaust being given a platform, probably more like 99%. BDS supporter , maybe 97%. Whatever the number it isn’t much smaller.

    The actual exact numbers don’t matter so much, it is about what is beyond the pale of pluralism. BDS is about boycotting excluding and silencing voices, they have no right to complain about not being included.

    It would be just as wrong to have right-wing extremist speak about why it is ok to kill Arabs. They might be a Jew and they maybe have a view about Israel, but it doesn’t mean they should be given a platform in a pluralist context.

    It doesn’t sound like Limmud Oz excluded individuals, it looks more like individuals excluded themselves by marching under a Hezbullah flag. I really don’t see how you expect to be able to speak at Jewish events and at events that promote killing Jews or Israelis.

    Limmud Oz should be aiming to provide a good program to those who attend and give attendees something they are interested in. The attendees interests superseded the interests of possible presenters. I don’t think people are planning to go to Limmud Oz to hear from BDS activists , so I am not surprised they wouldn’t be given a platform to present.

  • David Langsam says:

    Seraphya makes my point perfectly. Beyond Tribal Voices is NOT a group of BDS activists, although I am dismayed that some of the contributors support the stupid and counter-productive BDS.
    Don’t worry about the facts, just paint them as something beyond the pale (or tribal voices) and that’s good enough.
    Limmud Oz does not need to give space to BDS activists or Holocaust deniers. It does not need to do anything it does not want. It is Limmud Oz’s show.

  • TheSadducee says:


    I tend to agree – I suspect that you may be right with regards to the usual suspects, the criticism etc. This is extremely unfortunate but to be expected. As I noted above, valid critique is often damaged by association with that which is seen to be invalid.

    The analogies that you draw however are interesting.

    If you go to a shul there are a plurality of views, some of which may be offensive, but how likely are these to be publicly aired as part of that shul’s activities and/or platform?

    They may be individual opinions, however you still have the choice of association after determining the views of either

    -the individuals (which hardly bear on the reputation of the individual through association of public location – after all, I may never actually engage with anyone at the shul)

    -or that of the shul (which does bear on the reputation of the individual through association of public location – after all, if I know that the shul pushes a hate message then I choose to stay despite that fact).

    I think a better example would be turning up as a Jewish representative to an interfaith discussion group and finding Sheikh al-Hilaly sitting there. Personally, offended by his odious views on a range of topics, I would choose to leave and decline public association. Perhaps others, and they are judged by this, choose to stay.

    A purist would suggest that one wouldn’t vote for a political group if the platform didn’t satisfy them entirely. Realistically a compromise is often made, again based on a value judgement.

    However, the better analogy to the publication and yourself would be choosing to join a political group because part of the platform appeals and part of it offends. Again, not something I would do, but others do and are judged by their association.

    Anyways, if the book falls my way I’ll have a look, otherwise, good luck and Hashem bless you for your efforts for peace.

  • TheSadducee says:


    I have to agree with David here – you seem to have missed the point and fail to draw the necessary distinctions between the contributors of the publication and those who also advocate BDS – which by the way has a multiplicity of forms, not just the total BDS (where’s Larry Stillman when you need him?) and may possibly garner significantly more than 3% support.

    Whatever the case, I don’t think that the discussion would have necessarily been a pro-BDS activist rally as opposed to a mixture of genuinely good intentions, delusional self-importance and victimhood and moralising to the Jewish community in general.

  • Sydney Daniel says:

    Vivienne… You concede that a number of the contributors support BDS as “a non-violent way of pressuring Israel to abide by international law”.

    Intentionally or not, anyones actions that involve supporting BDS help organisations and people that do want to destroy Israel.
    I’m not saying any of those people feel that way – but their actions help people that do.

    Get off the morale high ground and realise what your actions are doing…. now… since international law is so important … there are flights to China, Iran and a whole list of other countries available to buy whenever you want them.

  • TheSadducee says:

    Sydney Daniel

    I’m not particularly sympathetic to Ms Porszolt’s views but I’ll ask you this-

    does Ms Porszolt have a right to return to Iran or China because of her religious/cultural identity?

    Think about it and it might give you an insight into why many of these people are more interested in Israel, and legitimately so, than other countries…

  • Reallity Check says:

    What’s the bet that after she gave her 2 cents worth, Viv ain’t interested in continuing this discussion. Her ideology and agenda keeps getting in the way of reality.

  • frosh says:

    I agree completely with Seraphya. Limmud should not be turned into an event for people to promote their political agendas.

    David L,

    I was referring to the two individuals from whom we (Galus Australis) received representations from concerning this session. (Neither of them are named Sivan, Nicole, or David) I didn’t name them in the article, as I didn’t want to reward them with more personal publicity (which they, like almost all ASHamed Jews, crave).

    I have little idea of what your politics are. I once heard a monologue of yours on ABC Radio National several years ago, and if memory serves (and it was a long time ago) it was highly critical of Israel and the Jewish community. Be that as it may, even if your views were those of the right wing of Likud, the logic of my article stands (if I haven’t explained it well enough for you, please read Seraphya’s comment).

  • frosh says:


    That logic might have some worth if these people supported that right of return. Since they do not, it’s a rather fallacious argument

  • Pinchas says:

    Ms Proszolt.
    Intenational law? You really should look it up before joining the likes of Mufti Sheikh Hillaly (“Jews seek to controll the world through the use of buggery”, “uncovered meat”–).
    The Palmer report concluded Israel was within its rights to stop the “peace flotilla”. Nobody got killed on any of the other ships, that did not ccontain martyrdom seekers who were singing songs about the return of the army of Muhammed and previous Islamic massacres of Jews and viciously attacked the IDF boarding party.
    Then there was the naqba march complete with the Nazi Ross May.
    Yes Ms Proszolt you really are a shinning example of your tribal loyalty.
    There is plenty of legal contention out there about borders etc Facile one liners from those who seek to strangle Israel and refuse to see the conflict in context are just that,facile one liners.

  • Pinchas says:

    Which part of:-
    *No peace ever
    *Islamic Republic of Palestine from the river to the sea,cleansed of Jews
    *Palestine is ALL Arab land (PA covenant)
    * Moderate PA maps of Palestine which include Israel.
    * No Jewish connection to Israel
    Can I help explain to you?

  • Pinchas says:

    Jews are not just a culture or religious identity. They carry DNA identifiers as well.
    Jews are allowed to become Israeli citizens just as happens with many other countries generations later, where people born elsewhere,who dont speak the language get passports.
    The Arab victims of deliberate Arab apartheid, can return to the Arab state of Palestine,where Jews are verborten.
    The refugees are a deliberate “open sore”,while many millions of refugees have been absorbed all over the world,including a million Jews from Arab lands.
    There have been numerous instances of population swaps after wars.Allowing an entry to a hostile group, brainwashed in hatred is suicide.
    Exactly what some of the BDS brigade advocate,part of their tribal loyalties.
    They sprout “international law” when it suits them but ignore UNSCR 242,which is legally binding and which does not call for R.O.R.

  • Reallity Check says:

    Pinchas, you are treading on very dangerous ground. What, DNA tests to prove you’re Jewish? And what about converts where both parents are converts? You’re the flip-side of what the BDS pr..cks are.

  • Seraphya says:

    There aren’t a multiplicity of forms of BDS. There is no “total” BDS and other types. There is only total BDS. If you don’t support the totality of BDS then you don’t fall under the umbrella of BDS.

    Judging by the way that this seems to more of a PR stunt to claim that they aren’t included, it looks even more like that if they were given a platform then the tone would still be volatile and confrontational.

  • Pinchas says:

    Reality check
    Jews do have common genetic traits, sorry that’s reality.
    That does not exclude say a Vietnamese boat person or an African refugee escaping slavery becoming an IDF officer
    Israeli citizens include Moslems escaping the slaughter in Bisnia.
    Not something one will hear from the BDS “cultists ” or those who imperiously tell Israel to ” just make peace”.

  • David Langsam says:



    Your memory of the ABC broadcast is inaccurate. The monologue was about the freedom to have views without the attack dogs of the community barking at one’s heals. Much like the current discussion.

    On your Facebook page you describe yourself as a Libertarian which is a nice, soft, right-wing, freedom position overlapping with my own anarchism – and distinct from fascism.

    A John Stuart Mill Libertarian would agree with the Voltaire (actually his biographer’s) view of supporting the right to free speech.

    I draw the line at speech that calls for the silencing of others and hence I agree to some extent with the comments above about giving a platform to the BDS. That said, if BDS people wanted to argue their case, I would be honored to debate them – and do so from a position as a strong critic of bad Israeli policies to its neighbors. (Leaving aside the historical bad neighbor policies to Israel which we take as known.)

    It could be a worthwhile discussion to have representatives of the BDS movement line up against a panel of anti-BDSers including Prof Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein and myself! :–) ha ha ha …

    But placing a very wide limit on free speech – in principle – at the point of silencing others does NOT mean that private events or even semi-public ones like Limmud Oz must host people they don’t want. It means that those we oppose have a right to speak. They can organize their own forum which we will not assault.

    Limmud Oz can do what it likes. Nooo?

  • Pinchas says:

    Actually at the last Limmud oz in Sydney there was a forum for the BDS supporters.
    One of them fatuously said at the end of her presentation about why she is pro Palestinian and why she supports BDS she said I will give a Jewish answer” Why not”? That was just SO intellectual, literary and informative,it was up there with slogans from leftist media types who say they support the Palestinian narrative because “the Jews have enough publicity.”

    The BDS brigade want to supress free speech by Israelis but cry free speech when others return the compliment. A chutzpa !

  • frosh says:

    David L,

    This is not about freedom of speech, and can’t see any attack-dogs here either.
    No one here is taking away anyone’s right to free speech. They are free to march in the street, and they are free to organise their own version of a Limmud.

    One person’s right to free speech on the street does not trump another person’s right to decline inviting someone into their home. Just as I believe that someone should be free to spout anti-Semitic viewpoints on their own soapbox, I should be free to not have to invite that anti-Semite into my home.

    Furthermore, I (and I guess most others) would have ZERO interest in hearing you debate David Irving at Limmud. The reason for this is that his arguments are so beyond the pale of reality that it would be a complete waste of time.

    Finally, you claim to be an anarchist and for total free speech, and yet in an earlier comment on this thread you stated:
    “Had you included me in that group it could be off-to-defamation-court-we-go.”

    How do you reconcile such threats with your anarchist free speech position?

  • Wolf says:

    @ Pinchas,

    You write “There have been numerous instances of population swaps after wars”, which I find to be a particularly interesting and often overlooked point.

    There has been many succesful population swaps which, whilst not nice at the time, has ensured everlasting peace. A great example of that is ethnic Greek and Turkish populations after WW1. Beforehand there was a lot of animosity for hundreds of years, but since then wounds have healed well, and a mood of peace between the nations has ensued.

    I’m not sure how legal this is to do, or how realistic it is regarding Israel and the Arabs, however I am sure that in cases such as the aforementioned (and many other i.e ethnic germans in the Sudetenland post WWII), it does ensure a lasting peace, and ultimately the preservation of human life.

    It should also be noted that Jewish arabs were pretty much forcibly moved from there homes back to Israel in the early 50s, so half this population swap is complete. Again, I’m not saying it’s a nice thing to do short term, but it does guarantee lasting peace and the saving of human lives.

  • Reality Check says:

    Pinchas, genetic traits like big noses; is that what you mean? And Mr Wolf, what about the population sway, also in WW1, where the Turks moved some 2 million Armanians into the desert where most died of starvation, and then the swaps of Jews by the Nazis, which they termed “resettlement”

  • Wolf says:

    @ Reality Check,

    Reality Check, what on earth are you talking about?

  • Pinchas says:

    Reality check
    You really should look up the Cohen Gene amongst others. Not bad for an” invented race”.
    As for population swaps,sorry your comment is either just cheap point scoring or gross ignorance of history.

  • Pinchas says:

    Supression of free speech.

    A foreword to Wilders’ Marked for Death.
    By Mark Steyn

    May 14, 2012 4:00 A.M.
    When I was asked to write a foreword to Geert Wilders’ new book, my first reaction, to be honest, was to pass. Mr. Wilders lives under 24/7 armed guard because significant numbers of motivated people wish to kill him, and it seemed to me, as someone who’s attracted more than enough homicidal attention over the years, that sharing space in these pages was likely to lead to an uptick in my own death threats. Who needs it? Why not just plead too crowded a schedule and suggest the author try elsewhere? I would imagine Geert Wilders gets quite a lot of this.

    And then I took a stroll in the woods, and felt vaguely ashamed at the ease with which I was willing to hand a small victory to his enemies. After I saw off the Islamic enforcers in my own country, their frontman crowed to The Canadian Arab News that, even though the Canadian Islamic Congress had struck out in three different jurisdictions in their attempt to criminalize my writing about Islam, the lawsuits had cost my magazine (he boasted) two million bucks, and thereby “attained our strategic objective — to increase the cost of publishing anti-Islamic material.” In the Netherlands, Mr. Wilders’ foes, whether murderous jihadists or the multicultural establishment, share the same “strategic objective” — to increase the cost of associating with him beyond that which most people are willing to bear. It is not easy to be Geert Wilders. He has spent almost a decade in a strange, claustrophobic, transient, and tenuous existence little different from kidnap victims or, in his words, a political prisoner. He is under round-the-clock guard because of explicit threats to murder him by Muslim extremists.

    Yet he’s the one who gets put on trial for incitement.

    In 21st-century Amsterdam, you’re free to smoke marijuana and pick out a half-naked sex partner from the front window of her shop. But you can be put on trial for holding the wrong opinion about a bloke who died in the seventh century.

    And, although Mr. Wilders was eventually acquitted by his kangaroo court, the determination to place him beyond the pale is unceasing: “The far-right anti-immigration party of Geert Wilders” (The Financial Times) . . . “Far-right leader Geert Wilders” (The Guardian) . . . “Extreme right anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders” (Agence France-Presse) is “at the fringes of mainstream politics” (Time) . . . Mr. Wilders is so far out on the far-right extreme fringe that his party is the third biggest in parliament. Indeed, the present Dutch government governs only through the support of Wilders’ Party for Freedom. So he’s “extreme” and “far-right” and out on the “fringe,” but the seven parties that got far fewer votes than him are “mainstream”? That right there is a lot of what’s wrong with European political discourse and its media coverage: Maybe he only seems so “extreme” and “far-right” because they’re the ones out on the fringe.

    And so a Dutch parliamentarian lands at Heathrow to fulfill a public appearance and is immediately deported by the government of a nation that was once the crucible of liberty. The British Home Office banned Mr. Wilders as a threat to “public security” — not because he was threatening any member of the public, but because prominent Muslims were threatening him: The Labour-party peer Lord Ahmed pledged to bring a 10,000-strong mob to lay siege to the House of Lords if Wilders went ahead with his speaking engagement there.

    Yet it’s not enough to denormalize the man himself, you also have to make an example of those who decide to find out what he’s like for themselves. The South Australian senator Cory Bernardi met Mr. Wilders on a trip to the Netherlands and came home to headlines like “Senator Under Fire For Ties To Wilders” (The Sydney Morning Herald) and “Calls For Cory Bernardi’s Scalp Over Geert Wilders” (The Australian). Members not only of the opposing party but even of his own called for Senator Bernardi to be fired from his post as parliamentary secretary to the Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition. And why stop there? A government spokesman “declined to say if he believed Mr Abbott should have Senator Bernardi expelled from the Liberal Party.” If only Bernardi had shot the breeze with more respectable figures — Hugo Chávez, say, or a spokesperson for Hamas. I’m pleased to report that, while sharing a platform with me in Adelaide some months later, Bernardi declared that, as a freeborn citizen, he wasn’t going to be told who he’s allowed to meet with.

    For every independent-minded soul like Senator Bernardi, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, or Baroness Cox (who arranged a screening of Wilders’ film Fitna at the House of Lords), there are a thousand other public figures who get the message: Steer clear of Islam unless you want your life consumed — and steer clear of Wilders if you want to be left in peace.

    But in the end the quiet life isn’t an option. It’s not necessary to agree with everything Mr. Wilders says in this book — or, in fact, anything he says — to recognize that, when the leader of the third-biggest party in one of the oldest democratic legislatures on earth has to live under constant threat of murder and be forced to live in “safe houses” for almost a decade, something is badly wrong in “the most tolerant country in Europe” — and that we have a responsibility to address it honestly, before it gets worse.

    A decade ago, in the run-up to the toppling of Saddam, many media pundits had a standard line on Iraq: It’s an artificial entity cobbled together from parties who don’t belong in the same state. And I used to joke that anyone who thinks Iraq’s various components are incompatible ought to take a look at the Netherlands. If Sunni and Shia, Kurds and Arabs can’t be expected to have enough in common to make a functioning state, what do you call a jurisdiction split between post-Christian bi-swinging stoners and anti-whoring anti-sodomite anti-everything-you-dig Muslims? If Kurdistan’s an awkward fit in Iraq, how well does Pornostan fit in the Islamic Republic of the Netherlands?

    The years roll on, and the gag gets a little sadder. “The most tolerant country in Europe” is an increasingly incoherent polity where gays are bashed, uncovered women get jeered in the street, and you can’t do The Diary of Anne Frank as your school play lest the Gestapo walk-ons are greeted by audience cries of “She’s in the attic!”

    According to one survey, 20 percent of history teachers have abandoned certain, ah, problematic aspects of the Second World War because, in classes of a particular, ahem, demographic disposition, pupils don’t believe the Holocaust happened, and, if it did, the Germans should have finished the job and we wouldn’t have all these problems today. More inventive instructors artfully woo their Jew-despising students by comparing the Holocaust to “Islamophobia” — we all remember those Jewish terrorists hijacking Fokkers and flying them into the Reichstag, right? What about gangs of young Jews preying on the elderly, as Muslim youth do in Wilders’ old neighborhood of Kanaleneiland?

    As for “Islamophobia,” it’s so bad that it’s, er, the Jews who are leaving. “Sixty per cent of Amsterdam’s orthodox community intends to emigrate from Holland,” says Benzion Evers, the son of the city’s chief rabbi, five of whose children had already left by 2010. Frommer’s bestselling travel guide to “Europe’s most tolerant city” acknowledges that “Jewish visitors who dress in a way that clearly identifies them as Jewish” are at risk of attack, but discreetly attributes it to “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” “Jews with a conscience should leave Holland, where they and their children have no future,” advised Frits Bolkestein, former Dutch Liberal leader. “Anti-Semitism will continue to exist, because the Moroccan and Turkish youngsters don’t care about efforts for reconciliation.”

    If you’re wondering what else those “youngsters” don’t care for, ask Chris Crain, editor of The Washington Blade, the gay newspaper of America’s capital. Seeking a break from the Christian fundamentalist redneck theocrats of the Republican party, he and his boyfriend decided to treat themselves to a vacation in Amsterdam, “arguably the ‘gay-friendliest’ place on the planet.” Strolling through the streets of the city center, they were set upon by a gang of seven “youngsters,” punched, beaten, and kicked to the ground. Perplexed by the increasing violence, Amsterdam officials commissioned a study to determine, as Der Spiegel put it, “why Moroccan men are targeting the city’s gays.”

    Gee, that’s a toughie. Beats me. The geniuses at the University of Amsterdam concluded that the attackers felt “stigmatized by society” and “may be struggling with their own sexual identity.”

    Bingo! Telling Moroccan youths they’re closeted gays seems just the ticket to reduce tensions in the city! While you’re at it, a lot of those Turks seem a bit light on their loafers, don’t you think?

    But not to worry. In the “most tolerant nation in Europe,” there’s still plenty of tolerance. What won’t the Dutch tolerate? In 2006, the justice minister, Piet Hein Donner, suggested there would be nothing wrong with sharia if a majority of Dutch people voted in favor of it — as, indeed, they’re doing very enthusiastically in Egypt and other polities blessed by the Arab Spring. Mr. Donner’s previous response to “Islamic radicalism” was (as the author recalls in the pages ahead) to propose a new blasphemy law for the Netherlands.

    In this back-to-front world, Piet Hein Donner and the University of Amsterdam researchers and the prosecutors of the Openbaar Ministrie who staged his show trial are “mainstream” — and Geert Wilders is the “far” “extreme” “fringe.” How wide is that fringe? Mr. Wilders cites a poll in which 57 percent of people say that mass immigration was the biggest single mistake in Dutch history. If the importation of large Muslim populations into the West was indeed a mistake, it was also an entirely unnecessary one. Some nations (the Dutch, French, and British) might be considered to owe a certain post-colonial debt to their former subject peoples, but Sweden? Germany? From Malmö to Mannheim, Islam transformed societies that had hitherto had virtually no connection with the Muslim world. Even if you disagree with that 57 percent of Dutch poll respondents, the experience of Amsterdam’s chief rabbi and the gay-bashed editor and the elderly residents of Kanaleneiland suggests at the very minimum that the Islamization of Continental cities poses something of a challenge to Eutopia’s famous “tolerance.” Yet the same political class responsible for this unprecedented “demographic substitution” (in the words of French demographer Michèle Tribalat) insists the subject remain beyond discussion. The British novelist Martin Amis asked Tony Blair if, at meetings with his fellow prime ministers, the Continental demographic picture was part of the “European conversation.” Mr. Blair replied, with disarming honesty, “It’s a subterranean conversation” — i.e., the fellows who got us into this mess can’t figure out a way to talk about it in public, other than in the smiley-face banalities of an ever more shopworn cultural relativism.

    That’s not enough for Geert Wilders. Unlike most of his critics, he has traveled widely in the Muslim world. Unlike them, he has read the Koran — and re-read it, on all those interminable nights holed up in some dreary safe house denied the consolations of family and friends. One way to think about what is happening is to imagine it the other way round. Rotterdam has a Muslim mayor, a Moroccan passport holder born the son of a Berber imam. How would the Saudis feel about an Italian Catholic mayor in Riyadh? The Jordanians about an American Jewish mayor in Zarqa? Would the citizens of Cairo and Kabul agree to become minorities in their own hometowns simply because broaching the subject would be too impolite?

    To pose the question is to expose its absurdity. From Nigeria to Pakistan, the Muslim world is intolerant even of ancient established minorities. In Iraq half the Christian population has fled, in 2010 the last church in Afghanistan was razed to the ground, and in both cases this confessional version of ethnic cleansing occurred on America’s watch. Multiculturalism is a unicultural phenomenon.

    But Europe’s political establishment insists that unprecedented transformative immigration can only be discussed within the conventional pieties: We tell ourselves that, in a multicultural society, the nice gay couple at Number 27 and the polygamous Muslim with four child-brides in identical niqabs at Number 29 Elm Street can live side by side, each contributing to the rich, vibrant tapestry of diversity. And anyone who says otherwise has to be cast into outer darkness.

    Geert Wilders thinks we ought to be able to talk about this — and indeed, as citizens of the oldest, freest societies on earth, have a duty to do so. Without him and a few other brave souls, the views of 57 percent of the Dutch electorate would be unrepresented in parliament. Which is a pretty odd thing in a democratic society, when you think about it. Most of the problems confronting the Western world today arise from policies on which the political class is in complete agreement: At election time in Europe, the average voter has a choice between a left-of-center party and an ever so mildly right-of-left-of-center party and, whichever he votes for, they’re generally in complete agreement on everything from mass immigration to unsustainable welfare programs to climate change. And they’re ruthless about delegitimizing anyone who wants a broader debate. In that Cory Bernardi flap Down Under, for example, I’m struck by how much of the Aussie coverage relied on the same lazy shorthand about Geert Wilders. From The Sydney Morning Herald:

    “Geert Wilders, who holds the balance of power in the Dutch parliament, likened the Koran to Mein Kampf and called the Prophet Muhammad a pedophile . . . ”

    The Australian:

    “He provoked outrage among the Netherlands’ Muslim community after branding Islam a violent religion, likening the Koran to Hitler’s Mein Kampf and calling the Prophet Mohammed a pedophile.”

    Tony Eastley on ABC Radio:

    “Geert Wilders, who controls the balance of power in the Netherlands’ parliament, has outraged Dutch Muslims by comparing the Koran to Hitler’s work Mein Kampf and calling the Prophet Muhammad a pedophile . . . ”

    Golly, you’d almost think all these hardworking investigative reporters were just cutting-and-pasting the same lazy précis rather than looking up what the guy actually says. The man who emerges in the following pages is not the grunting thug of media demonology but a well-read, well-traveled, elegant, and perceptive analyst who quotes such “extreme” “fringe” figures as Churchill and Jefferson. As to those endlessly reprised Oz media talking points, Mein Kampf is banned in much of Europe; and Holocaust denial is also criminalized; and, when a French law on Armenian-genocide denial was struck down, President Sarkozy announced he would immediately draw up another genocide-denial law to replace it. In Canada, the Court of Queen’s Bench upheld a lower-court conviction of “hate speech” for a man who merely listed the chapter and verse of various Biblical injunctions on homosexuality. Yet, in a Western world ever more comfortable in regulating, policing, and criminalizing books, speech, and ideas, the state’s deference to Islam grows ever more fawning. “The Prophet Mohammed” (as otherwise impeccably secular Westerners now reflexively refer to him) is an ever greater beneficiary of our willingness to torture logic and law and liberty in ever more inane ways in the cause of accommodating Islam. Consider the case of Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, a Viennese housewife who has lived in several Muslim countries. She was hauled into an Austrian court for calling Mohammed a pedophile on the grounds that he consummated his marriage when his bride, Aisha, was nine years old. Mrs. Sabaditsch-Wolff was found guilty and fined 480 euros. The judge’s reasoning was fascinating:

    “Pedophilia is factually incorrect, since pedophilia is a sexual preference which solely or mainly is directed towards children. Nevertheless, it does not apply to Mohammad. He was still married to Aisha when she was 18.”

    So you’re not a pedophile if you deflower the kid in fourth grade but keep her around till high school? There’s a useful tip if you’re planning a hiking holiday in the Alps. Or is this another of those dispensations that is not of universal application?

    A man who confronts such nonsense head on will not want for enemies. Still, it’s remarkable how the establishment barely bothers to disguise its wish for Wilders to meet the same swift and definitive end as Pim Fortuyn and Theo van Gogh. The judge at his show trial opted to deny the defendant the level of courtroom security afforded to Mohammed Bouyeri, van Gogh’s murderer. Henk Hofland, voted the Netherlands’ “Journalist of the Century” (as the author wryly notes), asked the authorities to remove Wilders’ police protection so that he could know what it’s like to live in permanent fear for his life. While Wilders’ film Fitna is deemed to be “inflammatory,” the movie De moord op Geert Wilders (The Assassination of Geert Wilders) is so non-inflammatory and respectable that it was produced and promoted by a government-funded radio station. You’d almost get the impression that, as the website Gates of Vienna suggested, the Dutch state is channeling Henry II: “Who will rid me of this turbulent blond?”

    There’s no shortage of volunteers. In the Low Countries, a disturbing pattern has emerged: Those who seek to analyze Islam outside the very narrow bounds of Eutopian political discourse wind up either banned (Belgium’s Vlaams Blok), forced into exile (Ayaan Hirsi Ali), or killed (Fortuyn, van Gogh). How speedily “the most tolerant country in Europe” has adopted “shoot the messenger” as an all-purpose cure-all for “Islamophobia.”

    It’s not “ironic” that the most liberal country in western Europe should be the most advanced in its descent into a profoundly illiberal hell. It was entirely foreseeable, and all Geert Wilders is doing is stating the obvious: A society that becomes more Muslim will have less of everything else, including individual liberty.

    I have no desire to end up living like Geert Wilders or Kurt Westergaard, never mind dead as Fortuyn and van Gogh. But I also wish to live in truth, as a free man, and I do not like the shriveled vision of freedom offered by the Dutch Openbaar Ministrie, the British immigration authorities, the Austrian courts, Canada’s “human rights” tribunals, and the other useful idiots of Islamic imperialism. So it is necessary for more of us to do what Ayaan Hirsi Ali recommends: share the risk. So that the next time a novel or a cartoon provokes a fatwa, it will be republished worldwide and send the Islamic enforcers a message: Killing one of us won’t do it. You’d better have a great credit line at the Bank of Jihad because you’ll have to kill us all.

    As Geert Wilders says of the Muslim world’s general stagnation, “It’s the culture, stupid.” And our culture is already retreating into pre-emptive capitulation, and into a crimped, furtive, (Blair again) subterranean future. As John Milton wrote in his Areopagitica of 1644, “Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience.” It is a tragedy that Milton’s battles have to be re-fought three-and-a-half centuries on, but the Western world is shuffling into a psychological bondage of its own making. Geert Wilders is not ready to surrender without exercising his right to know, to utter, and to argue freely — in print, on screen, and at the ballot box. We should cherish that spirit, while we can.

    — Mark Steyn, a National Review columnist, is the author of After America: Get Ready for Armageddon. This article is adapted from his foreword to Geert Wilders’ Marked for Death: Islam’s War against the West and Me.

  • David Langsam says:

    Ant, we appear to be at crossed purposes. I am saying a private (semi-public) event like Limmud Oz can do as it likes (is FREE to do what it likes) and does NOT have to include BDS-ers, David Irving or anyone it does not want. (Although it could be interesting to do so.)
    If Beyond Tribal Voices is truly beyond the tribal voices, so be it.

    The right to free speech is not the same as the right to free slander.

    I think you are trying to score points for reasons I can’t fathom.

  • frosh says:

    David L,
    It’s good to see we are in total agreement re the Limmud Oz decision not being a free speech issue.

    With regard to defamation…
    In any society, the laws of slander/defamation are inseparable from the laws of free speech.

    In our Australian, it has been decided that one of the limitations on free speech concerns defamatory speech.

    However, I am surprised that an ‘anarchist’ would support this limitation.

  • Michael Burd says:

    I notice at the anti- Israel demo in Sydney last week marching along with vivinne a speaker at the jew hate fest was the notorious Nazi Ross the skull”” May .
    No so strange bedfellows are the Palestinians , Arabs , Muslim community members , socialist alternative thugs ,anti – Zionist Jews and a representative from the nazi party .
    You know what they say by the company you keep , perhaps viv thinks she would also be entitled to bring “her” ross may along with her
    I would love to see the day that pro- Zionist anti Islamist critics of the poor palestnian
    speakers are invited to Arab and Islamic study Centr talk fests .

    Oh yeh. O doubt I will be reminded by my “” comrade”” fellow Jews the mantra that we are better than them

    Michael Burd

  • letters in the age says:

    Are the “trolls” of the i.p.a here on this thread?

    Mark Steyn

    oh come on


  • michael Burd says:

    Mark Steyn a genius!

  • Pinchas says:

    @Letters in the age
    Playing the man not the ball,a sure sign you have no counter argument to present.
    Care to prove me wrong? A factual rebuttal as opposed to polemics and name calling will do fine.
    Thank you

  • Reallity Check says:

    Mr Wolf I am talking about ethnic cleaning. And Pinchas, I am from the tribe of Israel and my nose is rather small, so go and trace my genes

  • Pinchas says:

    @ Reality,

    Abraham’s Children in the Genome Era: Major Jewish Diaspora Populations Comprise Distinct Genetic Clusters with Shared Middle Eastern AncestryGil Atzmon1, 2, 6, Li Hao3, 6, 7, Itsik Pe’er4, 6, Christopher Velez3, Alexander Pearlman3, Pier Francesco Palamara4, Bernice Morrow2, Eitan Friedman5, Carole Oddoux3, Edward Burns1 and Harry Ostrer3, ,

    1 Department of Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY 10461, USA
    2 Department of Genetics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY 10461, USA
    3 Human Genetics Program, Department of Pediatrics, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY 10016, USA
    4 Department of Computer Science, Columbia University, New York, NY 10025, USA
    5 The Susanne Levy Gertner Oncogenetics Unit, the Danek Gertner Institute of Human Genetics, Chaim Sheba Medical Center, 52621, Tel-Hashomer, and the Sackler School of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, 69978 Tel-Aviv, Israel

    Corresponding author

    6 These authors contributed equally to this work

    7 Present address: Center for Genome Informatics, New Jersey Medical School, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Newark, NJ 07103, USA

    For more than a century, Jews and non-Jews alike have tried to define the relatedness of contemporary Jewish people. Previous genetic studies of blood group and serum markers suggested that Jewish groups had Middle Eastern origin with greater genetic similarity between paired Jewish populations. However, these and successor studies of monoallelic Y chromosomal and mitochondrial genetic markers did not resolve the issues of within and between-group Jewish genetic identity. Here, genome-wide analysis of seven Jewish groups (Iranian, Iraqi, Syrian, Italian, Turkish, Greek, and Ashkenazi) and comparison with non-Jewish groups demonstrated distinctive Jewish population clusters, each with shared Middle Eastern ancestry, proximity to contemporary Middle Eastern populations, and variable degrees of European and North African admixture. Two major groups were identified by principal component, phylogenetic, and identity by descent (IBD) analysis: Middle Eastern Jews and European/Syrian Jews. The IBD segment sharing and the proximity of European Jews to each other and to southern European populations suggested similar origins for European Jewry and refuted large-scale genetic contributions of Central and Eastern European and Slavic populations to the formation of Ashkenazi Jewry. Rapid decay of IBD in Ashkenazi Jewish genomes was consistent with a severe bottleneck followed by large expansion, such as occurred with the so-called demographic miracle of population expansion from 50,000 people at the beginning of the 15th century to 5,000,000 people at the beginning of the 19th century. Thus, this study demonstrates that European/Syrian and Middle Eastern Jews represent a series of geographical isolates or clusters woven together by shared IBD genetic threads.

  • letters in the age says:

    Im time poor

    thats all


  • TheSadducee says:


    Sorry for the late reply – I disagree strongly that it is a weak argument. The fact that Ms Porszolt or any Jew (whereever they are on the anti-Israel spectrum) doesn’t agree with the right of return doesn’t mean that the right doesn’t exist for them.

    Are you suggesting that if Ms Porszolt presented her claim for a right of return that she would be rejected (assuming her Jewish bona fides were kosher)? I could not see any reason why that would be regardless of her views. Or is Israel now measuring its right of return on political views held by applicants?

  • TheSadducee says:


    There are a number of forms of the BDS – go and inform yourself.

    There is an absolutist position which argues that the BDS should be applied to everything Israeli, there is a moderate position which argues that it should be applied to anything/or particular things associated with the occupied territories. There are others also.

    There is some validity to your suggestion that proponents of the absolute position may seek to pressure others towards their position, but like anything, people have the choice to opt out or in.

  • letters in the age says:


    Your’e a snob…

    I don’t respond to colloquialism as it’s a tired old Australian political cliche that i don’t understand

    yawn and yawn

  • letters in the age says:

    if the aijac crowd are bored and want to resort to writing on this blog, your comments give you guys away……..

    its so obvious its sad..

    go play somewhere else.. your’e boring old farts now

  • michael Burd says:

    yeh Letters in the Age
    Gallus should be only available to the usual lefty suspects , anti- Zionist Jews , AJDS , IAJV, MOnash ACJS, Porzolts , Jews for Palestine and other tolerant, open minded types like you Etc

  • Seraphya Berrin says:

    Just because other people propose boycotts of certain things doesn’t make them part of the BDS movement.

    It is boycotting, divestment and sanctions, not just boycotting. And the boycotting includes an academic boycott.

    Those who propose boycotts of West Bank products are NOT part of the BDS movement. They often go to great lengths to say how misguided BDS is.

  • letters in the age says:


    i want the next generation to come through..that has wit with politics like the show above

    take a chill pill

    your ideas are old that”s all michael et al


  • Reallity Check says:

    It hardly come as a surprise that the majority of Jews do share genetic threads since we all came from the same geographic locations, and that’s why those threads are common in people from the same region. But if we go back far enough, though, common threads will be found with apes that dwelled in Africa 7million years ago. (I just watched the ABC series on human evolution) So what? Judiaism, I thought, is a religion, which, because it is so old and robust, the adherents; namely us Jews, having hung around together for some 3500 years, do share genetic traits, but that is just a coincident. Does that make any

  • Reallity Check says:

    But what has all this to do with some anti-Israel pr..ck speaking at Oz Limmud?

  • David Langsam says:

    @Reality check:
    The issue is that Limmud Oz is a “Jewish” event not an exclusively “Zionist” event and as much as some supporters of the latter like to confuse the issues, there are many Jews who are either not very Zionist or in the case of some political (The Bund) and religious (Haredi) groups are (or were) actually anti-Zionist and VERY Jewish.
    In fact, the writers in ‘Beyond Tribal Voices’ cover a range from the most extreme Rich Segal who is pro-BDS and anti-Israel and I believe to be rather unhinged in his views to my own strong support for a good Israel (The one we were sold at Hashomer and Habonim and Mt Scopus the Paul Newman in Exodus Israel) at peace with its neighbors and being a light unto nations.

    The Menachem Begin line that any criticism of his Government of Israel is anti-Semitism has been very corrosive. Criticism of a poor Government is NOT anti-Semitism – it is criticism of Government.

    If an Israeli decried the Northern Territory Intervention, or the Carbon Tax, would this be “anti-Australian hatred”?

    That said, if Limmud Oz chooses to exclude a Jewish group for whatever reasons it is entitled to do so, but it would be good if the committee was prepared to explain itself.

    For example, if a devout Lubbavitche sect wanted to explain why Jews should wait in the Galut for the Mosshiach, at peril of eternal opprobrium, would this fire and brimstone anti-Zionism be allowed?

    Good morning. Off to work. Boker Tov, chaverim.

  • Michael Burd says:

    I wonder David if the Arab and Islamic Study departments at our universities had talk fests or sponsored them like LImmud OZ whether they would ever consider inviting Israeli Zionist speakers, speakers critical of Islam, Speakers critical of the Palestinians. I know unlike the far left wing bozos at Monash ACJC who regularly invite Arab/ Muslim/ Palestinian lobbyists and anti Zionist/Israel speakers the equivalent Arab/Islamic Study Departments never invite anyone critical of Arabs/ Muslims / Palestinians or anyone Israel friendly.
    Perhaps they are more street smart than us that is why they are winning the PR war in Australia.

    No doubt we will hear the usual left wing mantra that we are better then them blah blah …

  • David Langsam says:

    Dear Michael,

    You make a fair point and of course answer it in your concluding sentence.

    One tenet of Islam and Catholicism is that if you don’t believe in a god you are an apostate or heathen and should be put to death, which I think is just a little unfair. So I doubt that an atheist would get much of a go at an Islamic conference, but a Middle East or Arab Studies Department should be ready to hear the views of a range of Zionists (from me to you) explaining why we believe:

    A) that a State of Israel is necessary and
    B) that it is in historic Palestine as an accident of history
    Bi) for which I am sorry but that’s the case
    Bii) for which you make no apology.

    (Correct me if I have paraphrased your views inaccurately.)

    That said, London’s School of Oriental and African Studies was a vibrant venue for robust discussion and any academic (particularly a traditional Islamic academic) should want to know and understand the views of ‘the other’ so I would expect such a school to invite you and I in for a coffee and debate.

    I haven’t had an invite lately, but perhaps Mark Baker or Larry Stillman have.

    PS can you call me? – there was a matter I wanted to discuss off-line.

  • letters in the age says:

    Those far left bozos at Monash are the next gen

    you are rude michael

  • Reality Check says:

    David, I said anti-Israel, not anti-Zionist. Anti-Israel means against the existence of Israel. Those ones; for example, who chant “from the Jordon to the sea”. Got the picture? And you must ignore Michael Burd; he has this terrible phobia of anything left. I understand that he has even removed the left indicator light switch from his car.

  • David Langsam says:

    Reality Check,

    Thanks for your clarifying post. The problem us that critics of Israel (like me and the former heads of Military Intelligence, Mossad and Shin Bet) are often criticized as anti-Israel, when we are anti-specific policies of specific governments. Worse, there are those extremists like some AIJAC functionaries who then call us “self-hating Jews bent on national suicide” – an insulting accusation that could equally be directed at the Lieberman Netanyahu Government.

    The community does often argue by extremes and it us counter-productive. The difference in views between Michael and I just goes to prove that Mt Scopus did not successfully brainwash a generation of students. Michael and I were in the same class for most of our school lives and I don’t recall any harsh words between us in that time.

    Although I hadn’t thought of the car indicators as a marker and as an anarchist, I should remove both my left and right indicators. As a law abiding citizen who does not need to lose his driver’s licence, I shall desist from this matter of principle and go with the practical.

    And Letters To The Age, the next generation is a very important point. Apart from a general apathy across the board from the 20-40 year olds, I keep meeting Jews that don’t want to know about Israel and politics because it is too difficult. And if the AIJAC attack dogs have been the cause of that, then they are doing Israel a real disservice.

    I believe that it is important that Jews have a strong connection to Israel and that includes the right to openly criticize its wrong-doing.

    As former head of MI, General and Prof Yehoshafat Harkabi said to me in Intifada I of Galut Jews: Israel takes your money and claims your existence as its raison d’etre – you are an investor and you have a right to ask questions and comment.

  • TheSadducee says:


    Your characterisation of Catholicism’s views on apostasy and/or unbelief are incorrect – Catholic Christianity does not call for death for these views.

  • David Langsam says:

    Sadducee, how soon you forget the Spanish Inquisition !

    Seriously though, when did the Vatican take apostasy off the burn-in-hell books? I heard Cardinal Pell say something silly about atheists being welcome in his heaven, but last time I was aware the Catholic Church was still formally pretty exclusive and proselytizing.

  • TheSadducee says:


    Your deliberately moving the markers of your own position. Your own original statement is wrong as written, simple as that. Perhaps you should have clarified between spiritual and physical death – I took it to be physical death but even in the other sense it would not be objectively correct.

    Catholic Christians would (and this is a generalisation based on their Catechism) suggest that those who deliberately and informatively reject their faith (eg. apostasy/atheism) would be more likely to suffer spiritual death (eg. damnation) than salvation.

    It does not however even prejudge these people and there are trends of theological thinking concerning soteriology that argue that most people would be saved rather than damned (for a whole bunch of reasons which I wont go into here). Some have even speculated that Judas may not necessarily be damned.

    Those who are heathens/atheists etc but may not be informatively and/or deliberately rejecting Christianity have a number of salvific options (similar to our Noahide ideas for Gentiles eg. in the Catholic case baptism of blood etc) open to them and hence are not necessarily spiritually dead at all.

    Additionally, a tenet of Catholic Christian thought is not to prejudge the final disposition of others. Historically this has not always been the case, but in modern times you will find it very difficult indeed to find a case where the Church as an official body has definitively declared a person damned.

    And the Spanish Inquisition was a vehicle of the Spanish state whose abuses are much exaggerated by anti-Catholic Anglo-Protestant propaganda. Additionally, as deplorable as it was, consider that the Sanhedrin played a similar role in society during the 2nd Temple period and killed people for their beliefs and/or lack of.

  • David Langsam says:

    Thanks Sadducee. Interesting to read that.

    I always thought that the Catholics were as bad as Islam on apostates, as evidenced by the brutality of the Inquisition in which Jews had a choice of convert or die (or so we were taught at school) or live undercover – the Marranos.

    But you have given a different view and clearly more evidence is required. Oh dear, another subject to read-up!


  • Wolf says:

    @ The Sadducee,

    You make the assertion that “the Sanhedrin played a similar role in society during the 2nd Temple period and killed people for their beliefs and/or lack of” re likeness to the spanish inquisition.

    This is a very harsh accusation to make without any sort of evidence or reference to evidence. Why do you make this comment?

  • TheSadducee says:


    I make this statement because it is true, however the comparison, like most, is flawed by the differences that one can point out.

    The point I was making was that in a Jewish state, our people themselves had social and religious controls which included punishment of death for apostasy and/or blasphemy and hence we should be careful in castigating others for similar mechanisms and/or situations however odious.

    In terms of examples/incidents – the early Christians and Josephus all attest to examples of the Sanhedrin and/or Jewish authorities doing this. eg. it was forbidden for non-Jews to enter beyond the Court of the Gentiles in the Temple and the punishment was death for the offence.

  • TheSadducee says:


    As I noted, it was not innaccurate to suggest that at earlier historical periods, authorities within the Church acted in ways that were not compatible with orthodox theological norms. These instances are almost always aspects of social control and/or politically motivated rather than instances of fanaticism.

    In the case of the Inquisition in Spain, we mustn’t forget that it was primarily a social control mechanism and political device, and punishments were carried out by the State, not the Church (although trials/investigations were conducted by the Church on behalf of the State).

    It was an odious and offensive institution and certainly killed people for their beliefs but a large part of that motivation was an effort by the State to homogeonize the Spanish identity after 700+ years of the Reconquista and remove any potentially subversive elements from the new society.

  • Reallity Check says:

    Ah, Saddusee, the Spainish Inquisition, which started in Spain, but spread over Europe, was a witch hunt of Christians who didn’t practice the Christianity of the state. Yeah Jews copped it as well, and were made to convert etc, but it’s primary goal was to weed out stray Christians.

  • Michael Burd says:

    As we keep hearing the Jewish left are the best Advocates the Palestinians and Arabs have.

    BTW I am a supporter of AIJAC thanks goodness we have them to offset the damage that Jewish Academia , IAJV, AJDS , Jews for Palestine or what ever they call them selves in Sydney etc
    are doing to Israel’s cause.

    Any way each to their own, all I know is if all these lefty’s were in the same Synagogue or community center as the mainstream like my self we would all be targeted the same thats for sure .

  • David Langsam says:

    er … Michael … Hello?

    And the last time we saw each other was ?

    … that’s right – OUR Toorak Shul!

    And unlike most armchair critics you know that I have been targeted, especially by your beloved AIJAC and it’s paid functionaries!

  • Michael Burd says:

    Are you referring to J. Baker board member from AIJAC ?

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Join on on the discussion, but the rule is, be civil.

    LimmudX: Too hot to handle?

    A public forum with some of the contributors to the recently published book: Beyond Tribal Loyalties: Personal Stories of Jewish Peace Activists : Sivan Barak, Peter Slezak, Vivienne Porzsolt, David Langsam, Nicole Erlich, and Avigail Abarbanel (editor).

    This forum was refused a place, without explanation, in the program of Limmud Oz 2012, the Festival of Jewish Learning. It is being held in the public interest as an independent event.

    Each of the speakers will briefly speak about their contribution to the book. The session will then be open for questions and answers.

    The forum will be chaired by June Factor, a long-term advocate of free speech in Australia and a past president of Liberty Victoria. Dr Factor is also an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Centre, University of Melbourne.

    Where? Monash University, Building B Room 2.18 Monash University, Caulfield Campus, Sunday 10 June 3-4.30pm.

    All members of the public are welcome. Free entry. Please note that entry to Limmud Oz requires payment.

    Forum organised by: Sivan Barak, Peter Slezak, Vivienne Porszolt, David Langsam, Nicole Erlich, and Avigail Abarbanel.

    Supported by Liberty Victoria and the Australian Jewish Democratic Society.

    Building location: If you get onto the Monash Caulfield Campus, go to the open grassed area. Look to the side with the buildings that have a walkway and what look like cheese sticks. Just beyond the trees at the left end is the Library (building A). Go up the stairs which is level 2. Right opposite the Library in a tiny plaza-like area, is Building B. Room 2.18 is at the back of that floor and will be clearly marked. If you are attending Limmud Oz, Building B is to the left of the cheese sticks that face onto Building H where Limmud Oz is being held.

  • David Langsam says:

    Michael, No I wasn’t referring to Johnny, who I still regard as a friend from school; and like most people, keep forgetting that he is involved with AIJAC because he is moderate, decent and has a sense of humor – in stark contrast to his colleagues.

  • Michael Burd says:


    I,m sure your mate Baker would not be a board member of AIJAC if he didn,t believe in AIJAC’s Raison d’être , their principles, their strong
    support of Israel , the IDF its government which ever in power and their correct criticism of those lefty Jews that act as cheer leaders for the Palestinian lobby here.
    I think you may be the one out of step?


  • David Langsam says:

    Michael, there is a difference between strongly disagreeing with someone’s views and arguing them – as I can with many people on a range of subjects – and being subject to the vitriol and abuse that normally pours from one select section of the community.
    I am not accusing YOU of this because to the best of my knowledge you have not slandered me, personally, and we have a 50 year+ bond that is fairly unbreakable, but I do note that you tar large groups of people with one very large brush.
    I was saying to someone the other day, that if there was a real existential threat to Israel – say a Syrian invasion – I would be on the front line, if the IDF would have me. In fact I offered Yitzhak Rabin a deal – pull out of the Occupied Territories and I’ll make Aliyah. (Sadly for world history, he declined. He also ignored my warning to disarm the settlers!)

    So, Michael, honestly, on a scale of Zionism – how far apart are we?

    You and AIJAC say I am not allowed the democratic right to agree with former heads of Military Intelligence, Mossad and Shin Bet and the daily Ha’Aretz editorial. I say all stakeholders in Eretz Yisrael have a right to criticize – more than just deploring human rights abuses in China, Russia, Africa, Nicaragua or Vietnam.

    Israel is meant to be OUR bolt-hole from the next Pogrom or Holocaust. It’s not AIJAC and Netanyahu’s play thing for this decade. Israel NEEDS to be at peace with its neighbors – a difficult task, I agree, but … Existential.

  • Reality Check says:

    Michael, David, why can’t you two just have your little chit-chat on the phone, because for the rest of us this is really boring.

  • TheSadducee says:

    Reality Check

    I’m actually interested in the interplay between the two of them – very insightful and revealing actually.


    Its interesting to see that you would be on the frontlines in the case of an existential threat – but how many of your co-contributors in the book would be so inclined?

  • Michael Burd says:

    sorry Reality your are right…

  • David Langsam says:

    Agreed Reality

    He (Michael)never calls … he never writes …

    Sadducee, the really interesting stories in the book are from the former IDF personnel – including editor Avigail.


  • TheSadducee says:


    Because a person has served in a military force doesn’t necessarily incline them afterwards to serve in an existential crisis – especially if they are particularly aggrieved with existing circumstances, true?

    Nonetheless, a minor sidetrack, though I would love to see the IAJV members as a shock force defending the border from a Hezbollah incursion.

  • David Langsam says:

    Sadducee – thanks heaps – best giggle all morning!

  • letter in the age says:

    Well done Larry!!

    Next time Wheeler Centre guys!

  • Michael Burd says:

    Considering Australians for Palestine Lobby group are sponsoring the Avigail Book launch and they are aligned with
    AJDS why doesn’t Larry take his act along with his panelists to a Arab and Islamic study center TalkFest where it would fit in much better.

    I suggest larry get an introduction to the Palestinian lobbyists from the head of Monash ACJC.

  • letters in the age says:


    Why dont you start your own blog and see how successful you become?


  • Michael Burd says:

    Gee what an intelligent comment…

  • Pinchas says:

    @ Larry
    Re “:– Personal Stories of Jewish Peace Activists”
    George Orwell would be proud of the newspeak.
    Those of us who note the attempts by the” peace activists”, to stiffle Israel at every level including Israeli right to speech and the activities to undermine Israel and destroy its foundations, including the right of Jews to return there but not the “Palestinian refugees” do not see them as either peace activists or free speech advocates.
    Their demamnds for free speech while they deny others reeks of hypocrisy & chutzpa.
    That AJDS supports their self righteous demands comes as no surprise.
    BTW As Voltaire is mentioned here it should be noted that he was a vicious antisemite,no not “antizionist” but antisemite.

  • Michael Burd says:

    The reason the Palestinians are winning the Public relations war in the West [ notwithstanding most of it comes down to old fashioned Antisemitism in backing the Jewish enemy] is because all Arabs and Muslims talk with the one voice when it comes to the Israel/Palestinian, ARab, Muslim conflict. This is regardless that they can not get along with each other.

    Unfortunately Jews on the left and of course anti- Zionist Jews make the best Palestinian advocates.. they can bleat all they want about being peace-nicks but when all they ever do is criticize Israel and Israelis they only make the Palestinians and their allies more intransigent.

  • letters in the age says:

    That comment is akin to intellectual statuory rape Mr Burd…..

  • Pinchas says:

    “Peace activists “are mouthpieces for the Arab narrative..
    Naively,at best beleiving that Palestinans want peaceful co existence with any Israel and peace will reign on the Middle East when Arab demands on Israel are met.
    Ambassador Prosser put it very succinctly in the UN a few weeks ago:-
    Thank you, Madame President. 
    Let me begin by thanking you, personally, for your outstanding leadership of the Security Council this month.  Churchill once said, “In the time that it takes a lie to get halfway around the world, the truth is still getting its pants on.” 
    In the barren deserts of the Middle East, myths find fertile ground to grow wild. Facts often remain buried in the sand. The myths forged in our  region travel abroad – and can surprisingly find their way into these halls. 
    I would like to use today’s debate as an opportunity to address just a few of the myths that have become a permanent hindrance to our discussion of the Middle East here at the United Nations. 
    Madame President, 
    Myth number one: the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict is the central conflict in the Middle East. If you solve that conflict, you solve all the other conflicts in the region. 
    Make no mistake: it is important for Israel and the Palestinians to resolve our longstanding conflict for its own merits. Yet, the truth is that conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Egypt, Bahrain, and many other parts of the Middle East have absolutely nothing to do with Israel. 
    It is obvious that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict won’t stop the persecution of minorities across the region, end the subjugation of women, or heal the sectarian divides. Obsessing over Israel has not stopped Assad’s tanks from flattening entire communities. On the contrary, it has only distracted attention from his crimes. 
    This debate – even this morning – has lost any sense of proportion. Thousands are being killed in Syria, hundreds in Yemen, dozens in Iraq – and yet, this debate again repeatedly is focusing on the legitimate actions of the government of the only democracy in the Middle East. 
    And dedicating the majority of this debate to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, month after month after month, has not stopped the Iranian regime’s centrifuges from spinning. Iran’s ambitions for nuclear weapons are the single greatest threat to the Middle East, and the entire world. —”

  • Michael Burd says:

    It is bewildering how Jewish activists on the left think by aligning them selves with radical Palestinian lobby groups when the Palestinians
    have no peaceful intentions at all other than using these Jews as useful idiots, which of course they are.
    Why left wing activists from ajds and ACJC join these lobby groups participating in anti -,Israel events and at the same time try to convince us they are zionists or pro Israel is astounding.
    How many Palestinians , Arabs or Muslim activists have we ever seen siding with the Israelis or Jews it is all one way street.

  • michael Burd says:

    letters in the age says:
    June 3, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    That comment is akin to intellectual statuory rape Mr Burd…..

    The difference between you and me letters in Age
    is I believe I am entitled
    To my opinion where as people like you who think they have a monopoly on truth, try to stifle debate , name call and bully those that don’t agree to you extremist left wing views.

    btw I hope it was as good for you as it was for me .

  • letters in the age says:


    i was being faecitious….


    no left or right wing as it hasnt existed for quite a while

  • letters in the age says:


    We are all Greek Jews petition

    This serious topic should be discussed at Limmud whatever the outcome of the Greek elections

  • michael Burd says:

    With a panel consisting of Baker, Levey & Zable all who is missing is SAMAH Sabawi and Salbe unlikely , I don’t need to be depressed and go and listen to a bunch of old lefty diehards.

    Prefer to go and hear what Dr Jonathyn Spyer has to say.

  • TheSadducee says:

    I must wonder about whether any of the panellists are actually practicing Jews, especially Orthodox, considering that they are talking about the role of faith and religious belief in society?

    There must be at least 1 person from the religious community who could discuss this topic in depth and give a presentation from their perspective rather than observations from outside of it. Surely?

  • michael Burd says:

    Knowing one particular participant well he thinks he’s an expert on everything….

  • letters in the age says:

    Thanks for that Guys!!!

    Feedback noted…


  • letters in the age says:


    I wait with eager anticipation the day you have the wonderful opportunity to speak at a forum and vent your views…?


  • michael Burd says:

    LEtters to Ed , I take that as a compliment thank you, in fact I did speak at Limmud Oz in Melbourne a few years ago on the topic of Anti – Zionist Jews and left wing Jews that work along side the Palestinian lobby in Australia.Obviously much of this was directed at our Jewish Academia.

    My views on ‘Israel’ are pretty much in sync with the mainstream Jewish community and the likes of leadership of SZC, UIA, JNF, AIJAC views on Israel and the conflict. I would have supported Barak’s 2000/2001 proposal back then. I would like to see a 2 state solution with compromises on ” Both ” sides.

    However things have changed the Palestinians obviously would like to continue seeing them selves as the victims so they can keep collecting funds from the naive UN & West including our own stupid Government who are pissing $90 Million of my tax dollars against the wall.

    The Palestinians just like the Arabs show us on an almost daily basis how they cant even get along with themselves , so it is unlikely if not impossible that Israel will ever reach an agreement with a proposed ” Islamic State of Palestine”. We have seen what happens when you give Land for peace or a a Piece of paper with a promise of peace. { Egypt]
    The Arabs get rid of their leader and either tear up old agreements or want them amended in their favor , once land has been given how do you take it back when the other side reneges ?

    Palestinians have proven they can not be trusted, which Israeli leader would give them more just on a promise [ who are they dealing with?} , when their leaders charter and attitude clearly means something else.

    Unfortunately the reality is Israel is in the wrong neighborhood if it had non Muslim neighbors they would not be in this position . We have seen how Syrians treat each other imagine how they would treat Jews if they had control.
    The conflict is no longer a Israel- Palestinian conflict but very much a Palestinian , Arab, Islamic conflict { Iran are not Arabs]

    The best Israel can do is ensure they continue their military superiority to survive .

    These are some of my views in short.

  • letters in the age says:

    Lovely Michael.

    Thanks for the response


  • TheSadducee says:


    Some of your views are incredibly offensive, ignorant and crass. Specifically your casual habit of referring to the Arabs, the Palestinians etc without any distinction of positions/views etc.

    I sincerely hope that you haven’t provided the raw product of the views (they of course would be far more polished) of AIJAC and the other orgs that you list that you claim to do.

    Very unfortunate and embarrassing.

  • Michael Burd says:

    Hi Sadduce I’m pleased you to took the time to read my own personal views
    The truth of what is happening in the Arab middle east is what is offensive and embarrassing .

  • David Schulberg says:

    The Limmud Oz committee has not been consistent in its policy and
    decision making regarding the participation of these provocative anti-Israel elements. It is hard to fathom why this furour has recurred at Limmud Oz 2012. Refer http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/jewish-world-news/australian-jewish-conference-cancels-far-left-speakers-renewing-controversy-1.434518.
    I had arranged the panel session where two members of the Palestinian community were going to take part. I am not a member of AJDS and Anthony Frosh was wrong in saying that those involved in Israeli-Palestinian Dialogue on the Jewish side were just AJDS members.
    The two Palestinians from the Dialogue certainly hold anti-Zionist, pro-BDS positions, but the Limmud Oz organisers saw fit to allow them on the program. Now because of ambiguities in the behaviour of the Limmud Oz committee and concern that they will be seen by their own Palestinian communities as “fig leaves by the right of the Zionist community” and victims of tokenism they have decided to withdraw.
    It would appear that the Limmud Oz organisers have put themselves under undue pressure by their inconsistent behaviour and unwillingness to clearly state what is acceptable for the program and what transgresses.

  • frosh says:

    David S,

    With regard to Palestinians who hold XYZ views, there is an argument for having dialogue with them with regard to building bridges for peace etc. However, since the likes of VP and PS are not Palestinian, it is not a bridge building exercise. They are merely using Limmud to advocate an agenda extremely hostile to Israel.

    If some Palestinians have withdrawn because they did not want to appear “fig leaves by the right of the Zionist community”, then this is not a reflection on the Limmud orgnaisers.

    What it does reflect is this:
    -These individuals who withdrew lack moral courage, and are overly concerned with how they appear.
    -It is also an indictment on those people from their community who would see them that way (assuming there are actually some who would).

  • TheSadducee says:


    I think that is a little bit of an unfair assessment re. moral courage – it is more reasonable to suggest that if they came out with anything resembling a sympathetic view to Israel, then it would not be safe for them to go back to the WB and esp. Gaza.

  • letters in the age says:

    Glad you guys get these personal views out in the open…

    Great to vent people!


  • TheSadducee says:


    I don’t think there is anything unreasonable or extreme about the suggestion that freedom of expression is limited (and dangerous) in the OT, especially under Hamas, for anyone who doesn’t have the highest public profile. Perhaps you can explain/demonstrate otherwise?

  • Jack Chrapot says:

    Correct me I’m wrong but isn’t this about a bunch of people who advocate for a boycott of Israel, including its products, its academics, artists, sportsmen and women and even its national bird complaining about being boycotted themselves?

    Give us all a break please.

  • David Langsam says:

    Dear Jack,

    Sort of yes and sort of no.

    I contributed to the book ‘Beyond Tribal Voices’ which has a range of views critical of Israel. I am a Zionist and strongly anti-BDS.

    Other contributors describe themselves as either non-Zionist or anti-Zionist and a couple are even beyond my pale. Some of the writers are pro-BDS, I’m not sure all are.

    The Limmud Oz event was planned without my knowledge and an application correctly submitted and a session allocated to discuss the book.

    Then the organizers – with I believe some internal dissent – ‘disinvited’ the panel, which is a mistake because it led to this long series of blog postings, and accusations of censorship, among other things.

    It was only after the exclusion that I became aware that I had been excluded from the excluded – which as I have previously joked – did not make me IN-cluded.

    The event was to discuss the book and the difficulties of Jews and Israelis criticizing Israel, for the reasons that my old school-mate (and yours) Michael clearly enunciates above.

    It had nothing to do with the BDS other than some of the writers and a majority of the panel support that idiotic, counter-productive, waste of space – the BDS. If Mossad could have invented the BDS it would have. Israel must love the BDS – it outs the unthinking maddies and wastes their political life. (Almost as much as this blog is doing to me!!!)

    1. Imagine for a moment all those human hours spent banging on the windows of chocolate shops and picketing the wrong synagogue.
    2. Now consider the same amount of human hours spent on the phone to marginal Labor MPs (that’s all of them these days)arguing that their electorate wanted them to support then Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd’s abstention on UN recognition of Palestine, rather than Julia Gillard’s opposition.
    Which tactic would do more for Palestine? (assuming you cared at all)



    PS I have chosen not to attend the panel at Limmud X, but am available for private functions for a small fee and dinner. (Shabbat preferred)

  • Michael Burd says:

    David you say you have contributed to this anti Israel book ( please don’t insult our intelligence by trying to argue the book is not a anti – Israel book because the proof that it is by the number of anti zionists supporting this book and of course by the fact that it is also being promoted by the very active Palestinian lobby)
    My question to you is how many books have you written or how many times have you contributed to any anti Palestinian ., anti Arab books or so as not to hurt your feelings i know how sensitive you people are lets say books that are critical of the Palestinians and or Arabs .
    If your response is none , zero then why not if you set your self up as a muddle east critic surely you would have had to be equal if not more critical of the other side?

  • David Langsam says:

    Michael, I reported on the Israel Palestine conflict from 1985 to 1997 for a range of publishers and broadcasters, which most of the world holds in very high repute, but I’m sure you don’t, from the BBC World Service, the Guardian and New Statesman to the ABC and Fairfax broadsheets. I have also written for the AJN, London’s Jewish Chronicle and the Jerusalem Post.

    I am not anti-anyone other than the usual baddies: oppression, superstition, gossip, fascists, Nazis and bad jokes. And Collingwood.

    I was asked to write about my experience for a book on Jewish peace activists and I didn’t feel very comfortable with that descriptor.

    But that facts are that I cross examined PLO Military Commander Abu Jihad on his policies on Israel – winning the quote in 1985 that he would renounce terrorism and recognise Israel in exchange for any land where he could raise his flag. Equally I later cross-examined then Defence Minister Yitzhak Rabin (Abu Jihad’s opposite number and in 1987 his assassin)on what conditions were required for negotiations with the PLO – which Rabin flatly rejected and then did!

    So I guess the intention of my reporting and the intention today is to do anything that brings peace between the two people closer.

    I am not a rejectionist of any sort.

    I reported what I saw, taped, photographed and could evidence. I reported extensively on Intifada I and wrote my own unpublished book on the subject include a lengthy investigation on the killing of Palestinian collaborators with Israel (which ranged from self-defence to outright murder).

    Beyond Tribal Voices is okay as a book. It’s not Tolstoy’s War and Peace and it’s not Dayan’s My Lfe or even Keith Richards Life. It’s similar to Philip Mendes earlier work on the Australian Jewish Left, in which I also had a chapter.

    I hope that answers your question.


  • Michael Burd says:

    I don’t understand where do you people draw the line.
    If for instance a known Nazi came out with a petition or invited people to contribute to his book on a particular subject and lets say you agreed with that particular issue would you make a contribution? and then argue later well I don’t agree with his anti- Semitic views..

    The Same applies to the radical anti- Zionist Jewish born Loewenstein so many people have signed up to his dissident Jewish group IAJV, many prominent people . I have asked many of them did they know of his extremist views and when I quoted Loewenstein or sent them some of his material they were shocked and their excuse was well they agreed with a particular issue so they signed up. Now they are tarred with the same brush as that Bozo because their names still appear on his list.
    I would be very careful to have my name associated with any cause or person whose worldly views I was abhorrently against.

    David makes the extraordinary statement that he is a Zionist[ not sure if that is tongue in cheek of his sense of humor] and he admits aligning himself with radical ant- Zionists [and Palestinians]the type who we saw at the Windsor on Tuesday night are extremists not peace nicks.

    You have the perfect right to be an anti- Zionist or as the Jewish left behave act as advocates for Palestinians but you cant be a little bit pregnant David , I think you are very confused. You want to dance at two weddings at the same time.

  • David Langsam says:


    I think your misunderstanding is deliberate and provocative and worst of all not necessary.

    I went to Habonim. I still hold those views on the need for an Israel – preferably at peace with its neighbors – as bolt hole for when the (not if) the next Pogrom or holocaust is visited upon us.

    My Zionism is not tongue in cheek, but it is also not head in sand.

    I singed the IAJV petition not knowing anything about Lowenstein or Slezak at that time – none of us did, because it merely reflected the British petition and was relatively measured and equal.

    But when they started using our names as excuses to run whatever polemic they dreamed up that night I rang them, bollocked them, and wrote publicly (I think in the AJN and/or The Age) that they had no right at all to take 500 signatories to a specific petition and then try to misrepresent us as supporters of their political views.

    I found it a very unsatisfactory time, but did publicly dissociate myself from the duo. That Slezak was in this book came as a great surprise. I am unimpressed with his contribution and at best find
    it amusing that he claims ignorance of Zionism and Judaism as a high ground.

    Michael, before you respond, please take just a moment and keep it sober.


  • Michael Burd says:

    David these are some of the dates that Palestinian Lobby Group ‘Australians For Palestine’ are promoting for your Book on their Palestinian , anti- Israel , anti- Zionist, Anti – Jewish website.

    I quote a true Zionist Isi Leibler who said recently
    ”Zionists do not boycott Israelis”

    I believe the Author , majority of you fellow contributors and the biggest promoters of the book you are involved with the Palestinian lobby all support the Boycott
    of Israel..

    ”With due respect” David ,I rest my case.

    28 June, PERTH: Editor Avigail Abarbanel discusses “Beyond Tribal Loyalties”
    26 June, MELBOURNE: Prof Jamal R Nassar on “The Arab Spring – root causes and implications”
    23 June, BYRON BAY: Editor Avigail Abarbanel discusses “Beyond Tribal Loyalties”
    22 June, BRISBANE: Editor Avigail Abarbanel discusses “Beyond Tribal Loyalties”
    20 June, BRISBANE: Editor Avigail Abarbanel discusses “Beyond tribal Loyalties”
    19 June, BRISBANE: Editor Avigail Abarbanel discusses “Beyond Tribal Loyalties”
    15 June, SYDNEY: Book event “Beyond Tribal Loyalties: personal Stories of jewish peace Activists” ed Avigail Abarbanel
    12 June, MELBOURNE: Editor Avigail Abarbanel discusses “Beyond Tribal Loyalties”
    10 June, MELBOURNE: Public Forum: LimmudX – too hot to handle?
    9 June, MELBOURNE: Public Forum “Beyond Tribal Loyalties” with Avigail Abarbanel & Nicole Erllich; Chair: Michael Shaik

  • Michael Burd says:

    ”I found it a very unsatisfactory time, but did publicly dissociate myself from the duo ” David

    I’m glad that you agree about people like yourself that are so quick to sign up or align them selves with radicals then later on regret it …
    . the only problem is you have done it again with this book aligning your selves with people and groups that want the Jewish state destroyed..

    If you wanted to be taken seriously as a Israel critic David you have to at least be seen to be impartial and criticize the other side with equal enthusiasm. Until then as far as the main stream Jewish community goes you will be considered a extremist , a minority nutter like some of your co contributors to the anti- Israel book .

  • David Langsam says:

    oh stop Michael.

    And for the third time, please give me a phone call – seriously.


  • David Schulberg says:


    You have said that “If some Palestinians have withdrawn because they did not want to appear “fig leaves by the right of the Zionist community”, then this is not a reflection on the Limmud organisers.”
    The confusion that the Limmud organisers have propagated has not helped the situation, which has become untenable for the Palestinians who had intended to participate.

    You suggest that this reflects:

    -These individuals who withdrew lack moral courage, and are overly concerned with how they appear.
    -It is also an indictment on those people from their community who would see them that way (assuming there are actually some who would).

    Your remarks do not show any appreciation of the special nature of the Palestinian community. It would be impossible for these members of their community to maintain any credibility amongst their fellow Palestinians if they were to participate in Limmud Oz in the current, ambiguous circumstances. It may be unfortunate that more Palestinians don’t speak out as individuals, but that happens to be reality. They feel that they need to maintain their solidarity to strengthen their bargaining position.

    I think it is a real shame that members of the Jewish community have missed out on an opportunity to meet with a couple of sincere Palestinians who are willing to be involved in dialogue and reconciliation. This review session may still possibly happen in a few weeks time as a public event.

    And Anthony, an apology for having assumed that everybody in the Dialogue was from AJDS would not go amiss.

  • frosh says:

    David S,

    Let me get this straight. They come from a society where people get their knee-caps shot because they danced at a wedding, but they find the Limmud organisation “untenable”?

    I think they need to work on fixing their own society and introducing a modicum of pluralism there before they concern themselves with whether ASHamed Jews who march under the Hezbollah flag are welcomed at Limmud Oz.

    So, I stand by my original comment.

  • frosh says:

    “And Anthony, an apology for having assumed that everybody in the Dialogue was from AJDS would not go amiss.”

    David, how about an apology FROM YOU TO ME for the above line, unless you can demonstrate where I said this (because it’s news to me!)

  • letters in the age says:

    never ceases to amaze me…..

  • Reality Check says:

    Hi frosh, I, for one, am very ashamed of the ASHamed Jews. Maybe that’s why they call themselves that. But seriously, there is something very wrong with them. I too have some serious concerns with the current Israeli government, especially as how they are flaunting the idea of it over riding the Supreme Court which spells the end of democracy in the country. But that’s their choice, not mine. I can still support Israel as the Jewish homeland, even though I oppose the government, as I would oppose any government who wants to dump its democracy down the toilet. But who am I to be ashamed, I haven’t done anything wrong. Those ASHamed Jews need to justify themselves to their non-Jewish anti-Israel so-called intelligensia friends, so they claim, that they are different to the rest on the Jews. They are just making excuses and aplogizing for being Jewish, and that is indeed shameful. In reality, rather than ASHamed Jews they should call themselves, DON’T Blame me Jews.

  • David Langsam says:

    I received what I hope is a hoax call from an anonymous friend today, but could also be interpreted as threatening.
    It appears to be related to the Limmod Oz controversy.
    If any of the people posting on this blog may have called me and left the ambiguous voicemail, please let me know ASAP.
    Despite no return number being left, the police and Telstra can trace the call – a journey I’d rather not make.

  • Michael Burd says:

    You should contact telstra and Police if you really did receive some
    hoax call.

  • David Langsam says:

    Michael, I don’t know if it is not someone I know thinking they are being funny or something more sinister. It’s an ambiguous message.

    If there is a repetition, I shall go to Telstra and the Police, but I don’t have enough to go on, yet.

    I appreciate your concern.


  • David Schulberg says:


    It is also worth mentioning that Limmud Oz will include at least one panel session involving Palestinians and AJDS members focussing on Israeli-Palestinian Dialogue

    AJDS members????

    You have given the impression that all who have been involved in Israeli-Palestinian Dialogue have come from the one camp.

  • frosh says:

    Hi David,

    Have I understood this correctly?

    You would like an apology from me because you have imprecisely interpreted my precisely correct language?

    I wrote “…panel session involving Palestinians and AJDS members”

    If I had wanted to give the impression that you took, I would have written something like “…panel session exclusively involving Palestinians and AJDS members”

    Do yourself a favour and go and read The Human Stain by Philip Roth.

  • letters in the age says:

    Eds: Irrelevant link removed. This must be about the 7th time we’ve asked you NOT to post irrelevant links. If you’d like to write an article about a topic, then please email the editors.

  • Michael Burd says:

    Eds: Removed comments in response to the irrelevant link posted by “Letters…”

  • letters in the age says:

    Eds: Removed comments in response to the irrelevant link posted by “Letters…”

  • letters in the age says:

    ok i get it

    thanks for deleting michaels patronizing comments

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