COVENTRY, Britain (JTA) — A group that encourages Jews to oppose the Israeli occupation sparked a lively debate at its debut session at the 2012 U.K. Limmud Conference on Jewish life and identity.
Yachad, which was founded in 2010, “aims to discuss the occupation not with the outside world, but within Jewish communities,” the group’s chairman, Daniel Reisel, told listeners at a lecture on Sunday.
Some 2,500 Jews from across the world are attending the four-day conference, according to organizers. Limmud U.K. is hosted by the University of Warwick and combines lectures and workshops on topics ranging from politics and religion to Jewish music and cinema. The Limmud movement began with the British version three decades ago.
Reisel and Yachad Director Hannah Weisfeld said Israel needs to cede land in order to remain Jewish and democratic. Their arguments drew critical remarks from a skeptical audience, with some listeners arguing such concessions would encourage terrorism.
Gerald Steinberg of NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem-based watchdog organization, invited listeners of another session to examine critically Israeli-Arab peace initiatives and “the peace industry."
On the cultural front, the American Jewish reggae performer Matisyahu and artist Jacqueline Nicholls were scheduled to be interviewed on stage by philosopher Sam Lebens. In another collaboration, the Jewish, African-American hip-hop artist Y Love was scheduled to share the stage with the British-Jewish playwright Robbie Gringras.
Erika Siegfrid-Tompson of Limmud Hungary said that many of the non-British Limmud enthusiasts came to the conference to “learn from the diversity and level of professionalism that Limmud U.K. has reached."
Limmud International now has 60 groups in 26 countries.