We view the decision by the Committee of Limmud Oz 2012 to prevent a panel "Beyond Tribal Loyalties - personal stories of Jewish peace
activists" at this year's Melbourne conference as a blatant act of
political censorship. Speakers on the proposed panel included Sivan Barak, Nicole Erlich, Avigail Abarbanel, Viv Porzolt and Peter Slezak.
Even though there are other panels featuring discussion on the
Israel/Palestine conflict, this censorship follows a similar attempt at
Limmud Oz in Sydney last year concerning a panel with a number of the
The censorship goes against all the principles of the conference which
are to engage in an exchange of ideas, which according to its website,
have the following principles:
-Respects diverse Jewish expression
-Connects and engages
-Communal and democratic
-Explores Australian Jewish identities
-Creating space for ideas and reflection
-Forum for Jewish dialogue
The act undertaken by the Committee--the names of which are not
public--betrays these principles entirely and sends out a message that
dissent is not acceptable, particularly when many of the views being
expressed are precisely those being voiced in Israel itself. Serious questions have to be asked about the governance of Limmud Oz and its decision-making processes.
Furthermore, to censor the authors of a book, particularly in a
university setting is a serious matter, and it is also a fiction to
argue that Limmud Oz is a private community event or that it is not in
direct association with Monash university. Limmud Oz markets itself as
a major community event. In addition, the association between Limmud Oz
and the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilization means that the
Centre's own academic independence is now severely compromised. Monash
University has traditionally supported the principle of free speech and
we cannot see how a conference held at Monash can pretend that it is
supporting free speech when it is censoring dissenting ideas.
This culture of censorship within the Australian Jewish community is dangerous and only conveys the message that dissent will not be tolerated. This is a
major freedom of speech issue for the Jewish community and the wider
community, concerned with a resolution of the Israel/Palestine conflict."
If you agree with this statement, please sign the petition.
Please also contact Limmud Oz directly at / arts-limmudoz AT monash.edu
/. You should also contact the Vice Chancellor of Monash, Prof Ed Byrne /
ed.byrne AT monash.edu /, and respectfully express your concerns about
the limitations on free speech in a conference at which Monash, other
Australian, and international academics are participating.
Other activities will be publicized on in the social media and by email, by those affected by the ban.