The Australian Jewish Democratic Society (AJDS) is deeply disappointed at the actions of the 2015 Limmud Oz organising committee in recent efforts to exclude voices from their program.
The headline of an article published in the Jewish News on May 11th boldly exclaims: “Limmud-Oz promises ‘something for everyone.’”  They quote one of this year’s volunteer co-chairs, who advertise that the 2015 Limmud Oz programme promises “something for everyone whatever their interest.”  However, it seems that their actions speak louder than their words, with the exclusion again this year of Dr. Peter Slezak, Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of New South Wales (UNSW).  Dr. Slezak was denied the opportunity to speak at Limmud Oz, based on his public support for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, despite the fact that Dr. Slezak’s proposed session was to be on the topic of Jewish philosopher, Hannah Arendt, and completely isolated from the contentious issue of BDS in Jewish communities.
This act by the Shalom Institute, which organises Limmud Oz, is not only a deliberate attempt to make invisible any form of debate or discussion around how Jewish communities in the diaspora can engage with the actions of the State of Israel, but takes it a step further to vilify not only ideologies, but individuals.
We see this decision as being fundamentally immoral and furthermore runs counter to Limmud Oz’s stated core values, which include valuing the rich diversity among Jews, valuing choice in form, content and style in our programmes, and not participating in legitimising or de-legitimising any religious or political position found in the worldwide Jewish community.  These positions have been directly copied from the Limmud Oz website.
The AJDS calls on Limmud Oz and the broader Jewish community to condemn the exclusion of speakers by Limmud Oz and to uphold values of freedom of speech, exchange of ideas and vibrant dialogue, which instead of dividing our communities could further enrich and broaden them.
We also promote support and attendance of the Jewish Fringe, which has been organised in response to the censorship of Limmud Oz and will be held at the same time and place at UNSW.  Speaking on Jewish Fringe, Dr Slezak says: “We hope to demonstrate that there is nothing to fear and much to be gained from open discussion of difficult ideas concerning important issues.”
Further information about Jewish Fringe and its program can be found here.
Read more from Limmud Oz, and download the Jewish Fringe flyer.
 
This official statement was issued by the AJDS June 4, 2015