Stop censorship at Limmud Oz 2012

(From The Australian Jewish Democratic Society)

The following is self explanatory, and it follows a similar event at Limmud Oz last year. Some people never seem to realize that free speech is healthy and not dangerous. This is not an AJDS issue, but one that affects those interested in free and rigorous debate not just in the Jewish community in Australia, but free speech in general.

The abstract of the banned panel session (Sivan Barak, Peter Slezak, Viv Porzolt, Nicole Ehrlich, and Avigail Abarbanel), is attached below.

If you agree with this statement, please sign the statement

“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.

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 same speakers.

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
-Igniting activism
-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.”

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 made known by those affected by the ban.

If you agree with this statement, please sign the statement

Link: Academic and Intellectual Freedom

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