(JTA) — A Montreal Jewish learning festival canceled two sessions that would have been led by a pro-Palestinian activist who calls for Birthright Israel’s abolition.
Le Mood, a Limmud conference to be held this Sunday and funded by the local Jewish federation, pulled the panel titled “Where are all the radical Jews?” and another on the history of Montreal’s Jewish garment workers, both to have been facilitated by Sarah Woolf.
Woolf this spring helped launch and promote a website called Renounce Birthright that seeks to “educate young Jews about the connections between Birthright [Israel] trips, and the ongoing colonization and occupation of Palestine.”
Woolf and her co-facilitator on the “radical Jews” panel, Aaron Lakoff, wrote on Lakoff’s blog: “Ultimately, we’ve been banned from speaking at Le Mood because of our personal politics (or whatever Le Mood and Federation CJA perceive our respective politics to be), not based on the content of our panels, which were reviewed, accepted, and scheduled months ago.”
The two added that they are “deeply disheartened to learn that Le Mood has fallen victim to the very behaviours and attitudes it had promised to avoid: stifling, censorial, top-down and centralized notions of what Jewishness can and should be.”
Federation CJA’s president and CEO issued an Oct. 31 statement in which they said the session was canceled “because it involved speakers who challenge, actively and publicly, the legitimacy of the State of Israel.”
Noting that Le Mood includes “those that are critical of Israel’s politics, decisions and actions,” the Federation CJA leaders said they had “exercised our right, as any organization would be expected to do, to draw the line at funding and providing a platform, whether directly or indirectly, to those who deny the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state.”