I 've been reading with particular interest about the row over Tuvia Tenenbom's exclusion from a Limmud panel. I myself have spoken at Limmud, although I haven't attended for several years. I have met Tenenbom and admire his work. By reporting what people say in unguarded moments (an activity once known as journalism) he has been steadily exposing the appalling Israel-bashing and Jew-hatred among Germans, Palestinian Arabs and, increasingly, Jews themselves.
Jews tend to be neuralgically averse to acknowledging this treachery among their own. This occurs particularly on the left, which in its mind-bending way screams "racism" at anyone who condemns those promoting murderous bigotry against Israel or the west. So I wasn't surprised to read that the largely right-on Limmud audience reacted with hostility to Tenenbom's observations about Jew-hatred in Germany. Whether or not these findings were true was, of course, irrelevant. Tenenbom, whose instincts for fighting bigotry seem bred in the bone, did not take the abuse lying down. The reaction he provoked, however, caused his abrupt removal from a Limmud discussion in which he was booked to participate.
The person who dropped him was Keith Kahn-Harris. Some years ago, Kahn-Harris approached me to take part in a series of dinners he was organising. He was concerned that the UK Jewish community was becoming divided over Israel. Jews were demonising fellow-Jews. The increasing bitterness, he said, was destructive of debate. Would I therefore take part in a "safe space" dinner discussion to open up a dialogue? The safe space turned out to be a group of folk on the left who wanted to have a go (in the most delicate and exquisitely pained way, of course) at the one presumed right-winger present (me). That experience illustrated two things. First, that those not of the left are regarded axiomatically as the people making dialogue impossible through their outlandish views. Second, there was no way those round that table could acknowledge closed minds were on their own side.Free speech for me not thee: that's about as 1984 as it gets.
Update: This gave me a chuckle:
Keith Kahn-Harris is a scholar in the new field of heavy metal studies.Heavy metal, presumably, in the sense of Black Sabbath and not in the sense of, well, lead.
Update: Black Sabbath, or as Metal Jew Keith Kahn-Harris (who, according to his Wiki bio, is married to a woman rabbi) calls it, Black Shabbes.