Festival of Jewish Ideas and Jewish Dissent

Festival of Jewish Ideas and Jewish Dissent

Dear all,

We are writing to inform you of recent developments in regard to the Limmud-Oz Festival of Jewish Ideas to be held in Sydney next week. As some of you may know, this year Peter Slezak sent a proposal to the Limmud organisers for a talk about German-American Jewish political theorist Hannah Arendt. As was requested and as he has done in the past, Peter promised not to talk about the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement. However, the Limmud organisers rejected the proposal, saying that even though Peter might not talk about BDS, the problem is that he believes in it. More details can be found in this feature on Peter in The Australian newspaper and in this very recent piece in J-Wire.

Peter says of the rejection that the leadership of Limmud-Oz and other Jewish organisations were “trying to exercise censorship and make some people pariahs”.“They don’t understand the most basic principles of free ­society and free speech,” he said. “The idea that some people decide for others what they should hear is an outrage.”

As a result of the rejection, an alternative Jewish Fringe public forum has been set up to be run in parallel to Limmud-Oz. The details are below.

The press release of the event reads as follows:


The Shalom Institute, which organises the annual Festival of Jewish Ideas, Limmud Oz, have threatened legal action against Jewish dissidents who are organising a parallel fringe event, This was previously announced as ‘Limmud Fringe’. The threat of legal action is against the use of this title because Shalom Institute has registered the trade marks ‘Limmud Oz’ and ‘Limmud Fest’.

In response to this threat, the organisers of the fringe event have re-named it ‘Jewish Fringe’. The organiser, Dr Peter Slezak said “We wish to make it clear that the event previously titled “Limmud Fringe” to be held at the University of New South Wales on June 8th 2015 is not in any way associated, affiliated, sponsored or otherwise connected with Limmud Oz to be held at the same time at UNSW on 6-8 June 2015. Following the complaints and legal threats, we have renamed the event “Jewish Fringe” in order to avoid misrepresentation and misleading anyone that there is a connection between any person involved in our event and Limmud Oz, where no such connection in fact exists.”

The re-named event “Jewish Fringe” is a response to the policy of Limmud Oz to exclude anyone who supports or advocates Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) of Israel. Dr Peter Slezak, in association with Jews against the Occupation, is hosting the parallel program free of charge, to be held at the same time and place as the Limmud Oz festival, at UNSW on Queen’s Birthday weekend.

The program includes a session by Dr Slezak, Jewish Dissent: Hannah Arendt & “Red Lines”, Then and Now, a workshop by Vivienne Porzsolt of Jews against the Occupation Who’s Afraid of BDS? and a panel of Palestinian and Israeli PhD students at UNSW on Identity Struggles of the New Generation Living under the Occupation.

Dr Slezak said ‘We hope to demonstrate that there is nothing to fear and much to be gained from open discussion of difficult ideas concerning important issues.”

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