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.
The left cannot ever admit that it demonises opponents and shuts down debate because it stands for tolerance, rationality and conscience. Doesn't it?
Well, actually, no. Last week, Israel's TV Channel 2 exposed a far left Jewish Ta'ayush activist Ezra Nawi and a B'Tselem organiser Nasser Nawaj'ah who boasted of providing Palestinian Authority counterintelligence with details of Palestinian Arabs who wanted to sell land in the Hebron area to Jews. Nawi gloated: "The PA catches and kills them. But before it kills them, they get beat up." That's because the death penalty exists for any Palestinian who sells Jews land.
The Palestinians' murderous bigotry towards Jews is thus matched by the anti-settler bigotry of such Jewish leftists, who intend to send to their deaths Arabs who enable Jews lawfully to purchase land and live in the disputed territories.
Tenenbom's book Catch The Jew exposed the vicious agenda of NGOs such as the human rights group B'Tselem, Rabbis for Human Rights and others. To his shock he discovered these NGOs act as surrogates for German and European governments which fund their activities of defaming and demonising Israel and the Jewish people through fabrications and distortions. While Tenenbom was being silenced at Limmud, a speaker from the NGO Breaking The Silence, the group of ex-Israeli soldiers devoted to defaming the IDF, was accusing comrades of war crimes. The journalist Ruthie Blum, who was presenting in an adjacent room, was drowned out by the sound of the Limmud audience's applause.
Melanie Phillips is a Times columnist