My Limmud Oz speech

I’d like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land, the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, and pay my respects to their elders past and present.

When explaining why BDS advocates were banned from presenting at Limmud Oz, the Executive explained that ‘the BDS campaign is an attack on Israel’s basic legitimacy and harms the Jewish people as a whole’.

I am nothing if not reasonable, so I wanted to report other treacherous, self-hating Jews who would not be welcome here either. Socialists are notoriously unreliable, and here’s what one living in Palestine in 1931 said:

We declare before world opinion, before the workers’ movement, and before the Arab world, that we shall not agree, either now or in the future, to the rule of one national group over the other. Nor do we accept the idea of a Jewish state, which would eventually mean Jewish domination of Arabs in Palestine.

This man was so hostile to religion, he reportedly refused to wear a kippah to funerals. Consider his treacherous testimony to the Peel Commission in 1937:

If Palestine were uninhabited we might have asked for a Jewish state, for then it would not harm anyone else. But there are other residents in Palestine, and just as we do not wish to be at the mercy of others, they too have a right not to be at the mercy of Jews.

For those wondering, I am quoting David Ben-Gurion, leader of the Yishuv, and Israel’s first Prime Minister. Ben-Gurion always recognised the essential reasonableness of Palestinian opposition to Zionism. During the Palestinian revolt from 1936-39, he wrote that

In our political argument abroad, we minimise Arab opposition to us, […but] let us not ignore the truth among ourselves. …[The] conflict[,] in its essence[is] a political one…[And] politically we are the aggressors and they defend themselves… The country is theirs, because they inhabit it, whereas we want to come here and settle down, and in their view we want to take away from them their country, while we are still outside it.

As early as 1919, he declared that there was ‘no solution’ to the Jewish-Arab conflict. ‘I do not know what Arab will agree that Palestine should belong to the Jews. … We, as a nation, want this country to be ours; the Arabs, as a nation, want this country to be theirs.’

Ben-Gurion explained that ‘Were I an Arab, I would rise up against immigration liable sometime in the future to hand the country… over to Jewish rule. What Arab cannot do his math and understand that immigration at the rate of 60 000 a year means a Jewish state in all of Palestine?’

After the 1948 war, he asked:

Why should the Arabs make peace? If I was an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: We have taken their country. Sure, God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them? Our God is not theirs. We come from Israel, it’s true, but two thousand years ago, and what is that to them? There has been anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: We have come here and stolen their country. Why should they accept that?

There were of course other traitors at the time, who dared show understanding of Palestinian opposition to political Zionism. The rot even spread to the Right. The leader of the Revisionists, and ideological forefather of Likud, Ze’ev Jabotinsky wrote in his Iron Wall essays:

Let us consider for a moment the point of view of those to whom this seems immoral. We shall trace the root of the evil to this – that we are seeking to colonise a country against the wishes of its population, in other words, by force.

He explained that

there has never been an indigenous inhabitant anywhere or at any time who has ever accepted the settlement of others in his country.

Colonization can have only one goal. For the Palestinian Arabs this goal is inadmissible. This is in the nature of things. To change that nature is impossible.

Not only this: he thought this was obvious:

Apart from those who have been virtually ‘blind’ since childhood, all the other moderate Zionists have long since understood that there is not even the slightest hope of ever obtaining the agreement of the Arabs of the Land of Israel to ‘Palestine’ becoming a country with a Jewish majority.

Ok, so maybe Israel’s founding fathers wouldn’t be welcome here at Limmud Oz. Obviously, we shouldn’t be letting in traitors who harm the ‘Jewish people as a whole’.

So let’s turn to the type of people who would be welcome at Limmud Oz: the kind who get supported by our leading organisations.

In July 2009, AIJAC’s column in the Jewish News praised Alan Howe, for the ‘sympathy and understanding’ he showed ‘for the dilemmas facing Israel in Gaza’. As an example, he quoted approvingly Howe’s reference to the ‘festering malevolence that is Gaza.’ He omitted how Howe began his column: ‘The people of Gaza are set to be the first to bomb themselves back to the Stone Age. Serves them right.’ Presumably AIJAC appreciates the ‘sympathy and understanding’ shown for Israel bombing Gaza ‘back to the Stone Age.’

Then there is the case of Benny Morris, who went on a speaking tour supported by the Jewish Board of Deputies, and was supported in a Senate submission by ECAJ and AUJS. Benny Morris has said, for example, that ‘The Arab world as it is today is barbarian.’ He thinks that ‘something like a cage’ has to be built for the Palestinians, who are like a ‘wild animal’. He supports the expulsion of Palestinians in the 1948 war:

A Jewish state would not have come into being without the uprooting of 700,000 Palestinians. Therefore it was necessary to uproot them. …It was necessary to cleanse the hinterland and cleanse the border areas and cleanse the main roads. It was necessary to cleanse the villages from which our convoys and our settlements were fired on.

However, he is critical of Ben-Gurion’s ‘serious historical mistake’: ‘The non-completion of the transfer’:

I know that this stuns the Arabs and the liberals and the politically correct types. But my feeling is that this place would be quieter and know less suffering if the matter had been resolved once and for all. If Ben-Gurion had carried out a large expulsion and cleansed the whole country.

The Cambridge University Israel Society disinvited Benny Morris from speaking, explaining ‘that the intention of the Society was never to give racism a platform.’ Evidently, AUJS, ECAJ and the Jewish Board of Deputies have no problem with providing such a platform.

To take a final example, Ron Weiser has recently been citing Gerard Steinberg, the head of NGO Monitor, and his criticisms of the New Israel Fund. He alleges the NIF may not live up to community standards. Steinberg, in an article attacking the Goldstone Report, explained that Israel ‘had the moral right to flatten all of Gaza.’

Our community organisations would presumably also jump at the chance to welcome Tzipi Livni, who explained that Hamas now knows that ‘when you fire on [Israel’s] citizens it responds by going wild – and this is a good thing.’ She also commented that ‘Israel demonstrated real hooliganism during the course of the’ attack on Gaza, ‘which I demanded.’ Similarly, Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister, Eli Yishai, said during the attack that it should be ‘possible to destroy Gaza, so they will understand not to mess with us’.

The Israeli doctrine that it is legitimate to harm civilians for political purposes has been openly declared before. In September 2007, Ha’aretz reported that the Israeli security cabinet ‘unanimously’ approved tightening the siege on Gaza, to utilise ‘civilian levers’ against Hamas. 52 per cent of Gaza’s population are children under 18. Dov Weisglass, Ariel Sharon’s chief adviser, explained the policy: ‘It’s like an appointment with a dietician. The Palestinians will get a lot thinner, but won’t die’. This was considered rather hilarious. The rate of anaemia of Palestinian babies from 9 to 12 months is 66 per cent.  Funny, right?

The former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, missed the humour. ‘Their whole civilisation has been destroyed, I’m not exaggerating….It’s almost unbelievable that the world doesn’t care while this is happening.’

Vivienne Porzsolt is a 69 year old woman who will soon join the next flotilla to Gaza. I do not intend to beg Limmud Oz to end its censorship of a woman courageously resisting a crime against humanity. Given the depraved nature of what our organisations consider acceptable, and what they consider outrageous, I would prefer to be banned too.

HL Mencken once said that every decent person is ashamed of their government. For decades, Israel has gotten a blank cheque from the diaspora to crush the Palestinians, to expand its colonisation of the West Bank, and to sow the seeds of hatred that threaten the futures of both of our peoples. Until people like you start speaking out against what is being said and done in our name, it will continue to do so.

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate.

Michael Brull is a columnist at New Matilda. He’s written for other publications including Fairfax, the Guardian, Crikey, Tracker and the Indigenous Law Bulletin.

More by


  1. Pingback: The Illogicality of Liberal Zionism « KADAITCHA

  2. My five year old has infinitely greater maturity and logic than Brull. He thinks umpires who give free kicks to other AFL clubs against his team should be dropped. Brull is about 20 years older, and doesn’t know any better. Why is Overland giving space to this talentless muppet?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.