Wednesday, July 02, 2008

South London Limmud

In a couple of weekends, what looks like it should be a fantastic event is happening in Bromley: a South London Day Limmud. Limmud is a cross-communal Jewish educational thing. The event on 13 July is an all-day event with eight different streams of talks, workshops and seminars. The full line up is here. Some highlights (from my perspective) include:

Ellen Goldberg
Kick Racism Out of Israeli Football
(Session 3)

Did you ever hear "Death to the Arabs" chanted at a football match? Could you believe that a team wouldn't hire a fantastic footballer because of his ethnicity? These are some of the problems that New Israel Fund's campaign to Kick Racism Out of Israeli Football works on solving. Come and hear how it's being done, and what role the English FA has played in this effort. This session is for anyone interested in human rights, social justice and football!

Ellen Goldberg joined New Israel Fund's staff as Associate Director in Israel in 2001 and has been Executive Director of NIF (UK) since 2007. She worked in social and health service development in Israel since making aliya from the US in 1980, especially for Ethiopian immigrants, the elderly, and children at risk.

Benita Hide
Co-existence - an alternative approach
(Session 3)

A brief history of Neve Shalom - Wahat al-Salam (NSWaS), its raison d'etre and description of its educational institutions.

Benita Hide has been working in the NGO sector on human rights for the past 15 years, and with British Friends of NSWaS for nearly ten.

Edie Friedman
Opening doors - myths about asylum seekers and refugees today
(Session 4)

Refugees and asylum seekers are among the most vulnerable and disempowered people in the world. In Britain, they are also one of the most vilified. Anti-asylum media campaigns have exercised enormous influence on government policy and political discourse, resulting in the belief that we are sinking under the weight of refugees clambering onto our island. The facts show otherwise: two thirds of the world's refugees are in the Middle East and Africa. Britain's hardening stance means that the number entering now are negligible and steadily declining. In this session Edie Friedman will attempt to show how current attitudes reflect a centuries-old tradition of ambivalence towards the world's dispossessed, fuelled by economic protectionism and the perceived need to maintain social cohesion.

Edie Friedman is a regular speaker and writes on race and asylum issues. In 1976 she founded the Jewish Council for Racial Equality (JCORE), of which she is now a director.

Ben Gidley
Jewish Radicals in London's East End
(Session 4)

An account of the radical movements among the immigrant Jews of East London, including stories such as Jewish radicals eating bacon sandwiches outside synagogues, ultra-Orthodox housewives making gefilte fish sandwiches for striking Catholic dockers, and Rudolf Rocker, the non-Jewish bookbinder who learnt Yiddish and led the Jewish anarchist movement before being interned in Alexandra Palace as an enemy alien during World War One.

Ben Gidley is a researcher at the Centre for Urban and Community Research at Goldsmiths, University of London. He has researched the history of Jewish radicalism in London's East End, focusing on the First World War. He is working on a study of Jewish community leadership for the Rothschild Foundation Europe and is an associate of New Jewish Thought.

Jon Mendelsohn
Is there a new Jewish agenda? Jews, Israel, Politics and the World
(Session 5)

What are the challenges facing the Jews and how well are we doing in responding to them?

Jon Mendelsohn is a former political adviser, campaigner, third sector Chief Executive, communications professional and businessman. He is currently working professionally as an investor and in a voluntary capacity for both the Labour Party and his local synagogue.

Louise Ellman
Parliament and Jewish Community Issues
(Session 6)

This session will deal with issues in Parliament that are of particular concern to the Jewish community. This will include how Israel is viewed by MPs, Britain-Israel relations, anti-Semitism and how the All-Party Committee Against Anti-Semitism and the Government is combating anti-Semitism. The issue of Iran and the threat it poses to international peace and security will also be discussed.

Louise Ellman has been the MP for Liverpool Riverside since May 1997. She is Chairman of the Transport Select Committee, Vice Chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party Regional Government Group, Chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, Vice-Chair of Labour Friends of Israel and Vice-Chair of the All Party British-Israel Parliamentary Group. She is also a Council Member of the Holocaust Educational Trust and a director of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust.

Bryan Reuben
Deconstructing the 1948 War of Independence (Session 6)

Social groups have narratives through which they define their history and which underpin their attitudes. Thus the 1948 war looks entirely different through the eyes of Jews, Arabs and bystanders. Accounts by Yigal Allon, Howard Sacher, Avi Shlaim, Benny Morris, Glubb Pasha and others will be compared, and the basis of historical revisionism discussed. What can be said about the post-modernist teaching that all narratives are equally valid?

Bryan Reuben is Professor of Chemical Technology at London South Bank University. Since going emeritus (i.e. unpaid) he has written books on the chemical, pharmaceutical and process industries, and many letters to the press. He worries that, when professional historians write about events where he was present, there seems to be little correlation with what he remembers.

There's also a culinary history of Italian Jewry, a history of Ethiopian Jewry, David Newman on Israel at 60, Fiyaz Mughal on interfaith action, an Anglican priest talking about Rothko and Chagall, a veteran of the displaced persons camps and the Israeli war of independence, a talk on the wonderful Janus Korczak, plus lots of religion, music, dance and more!

Sunday 13 July 2008 Bromley College Rookery Lane, Bromley, Kent BR2 8HE

Book online

Join them on YouTube or Facebook!

Links: Listing at Lewisham website, Listing at UJS site,

South London Jews: Bromley Reform Synagogue, South London Liberal Synagoue, Catford and Bromley [United] Synagogue, SE London Synagogue history at Transpontine.

6 comments:

Andrew Brown said...

On the football one, did you see this in Prospect?

Not happy reading.

Michael Abrahams said...

Bob,
Many thanks for promoting this event which I am helping to organise.

A couple of other sessions worth going to:

Fiyaz Mughal
From Interfaith to...? (Session 2)

This session looks at the possible natural progression to interfaith work and will also explore whether there is no natural progression? Is interfaith work that important in today's environment - nationally or globally?

Fiyaz Mughal's working history includes over 12 years experience in the community and voluntary sector in positions that have included social policy lobbying, project and general management. Currently, Fiyaz is the Director of a not for profit organization called Faith Matters which works on reducing extremism and developing platforms for discourse and interaction between Muslims, Sikhs and Jewish communities right across the UK.

David Newman
Israel at Sixty - but just who and what is a contemporary Israeli? (Session 1)

Israel's next generation of leaders are young adults who were born at least forty years after the State of Israel was established. They are more global and less impacted by the ideology of the State founders who created the State in a post-Holocaust world. How does their vision of Israel differ from that of their grandparents' generation? What is their Identity as Israelis, Jews or World Citizens? And how do they relate to the changing nature of Israel Diaspora relations?

David Newman is professor of political geography in the Department of Politics and Government at Ben Gurion University in Israel. He is currently the editor of the International Journal of Geopolitics. Originally from the UK, he has lived in Israel since 1982. He is currently on sabbatical in London and represents Israel's universities in all matters related to the academic boycott.

And there are many other great sessions and great presenters including Clive Lawton, Daniel Reisel (Why Darwin Matters), Dan Rickman (What does the Mishnah say about non-Jews?). Some really challenging and thought provoking sessions.

bob said...

Thanks Andrew, thanks Michael. (And, Michael, sorry it's taken me so long!)

On the football story: yes, a depressing if fascinating story. This very much relates to the debate I was having with Noga here/here. Beitar fans, especially Beitar ultras, should not be taken as typical of Israeli society, any more than pro-IRA Celtic ultras or pro-fascist Rangers ultras should be taken as typical of Scottish society. Beitar has a long association with the hard right in Israeli politics, and football's carnivalesque world invites extreme expressions of whatever positions are associated with football.

bob said...

I've read the Beitar article more thoroughly now. It's really interesting. I am fascinated with the way football becomes a space of political representation - how certain teams (Real Madrid, AC Roma, Beitar Jerusalem, Glasgow Rangers) become a focus for fascist organisation, how their local rivals' fanbase become a focus for an anti-fascist politics that remains trapped in a communalist logic, and how the carnivalesque space of football leads to more extreme forms of politics. (These are topics explored on Inveresk Street Ingrate.)

Anyway, the article is very clear that La Famillia are not typical of Beitar and that Beitar are not typical of Israeli attitudes. But it also presents some poll findings (poll findings: always consume with pinch of salt) on Israeli attitudes to Arabs. Question (for Noga and others): where does one draw the line between racism and understandable fears due to constant terrorist harassment?

Finally, the article also made me even more keen to go to the Ellen Goldberg talk at Limmud (I've seen her talk elsewhere about the New Israel Fund's fantastic environmental projects), although I also want to go to the talk about Neve Shalom, a project which I also support...

The Contentious Centrist said...

"...where does one draw the line between racism and understandable fears due to constant terrorist harassment?"

This is just an attempt on my part to answer a very good and pertinent question.

If you ever heard or read Kahane's rants against the Arabs, you would know where the line is.

There are fears motivated by a sense of insecurity and frustration, and there are fears whipped up by the likes of Kanane, which are grounded in contempt for the Other's culture, life style, language, etc.

The manifestations of the two kinds of hatred often seem similar. Such as mobs beating up Arab-Israelis or Paletstians workers who happen to be around when a terrorist arrack happens. The result of both is the same.

Racism is chronic and incurable, while the Beitar type of Arabophobia will disappear when there is normalization between the two peoples.

Carole said...

Hi Bob,
Nice to see a mention of South London Limmud- this is the 5th one-day Limmud in South London and the 2nd to be held in SE London.
There will also be lots of music: a female Cantor, a scratch choir, an Israeli dance lesson, a homage to Gershwin, and more.
And a separate programme for young children featuring stories, music, crafts and football.