A Message from Howard Zinn
on behalf of the Committee for an Open Discussion of Zionism
As you may have heard, in late August of this year, The University of Michigan Press, after receiving a series of complaining and threatening emails and letters from an ultra-Zionist group called StandWithUs, an offshoot of Campus Watch, withdrew from distribution Prof. Joel Kovel‘s book Overcoming Zionism, published by Pluto Press in London, United Kingdom. Since then, following numerous protests by fellow academics and scholars, The U. of M. Press Executive Board has restored the book to its distribution listings. But, ominously, the Board has indicated its intention to reconsider its contract with Pluto Press in mid October.
Overcoming Zionism is a serious, well researched work espousing a humanistic resolution. It is a valuable addition to the growing debate, in and out of American academia, that is re-examining long held assumptions about the sources of conflict in the Middle East. It should be discussed — supported or refuted — but not suppressed.
But even more serious is the University’s threat to cancel its distribution contract with Pluto Press. Pluto is a valuable and unique intellectual resource, publishing progressive books of a consistently high quality. It provides an alternative viewpoint essential to discussion and debate of important social issues, such as those concerning Israel/Palestine and the Middle East. The cancellation of Pluto’s contract with the University would be a serious blow to the principles of pluralism, academic freedom and free speech.
We urge you to add your voice to those of the many professors and authors that have vigorously protested these actions. We ask that you send a letter or, better yet, an email to U. of M. Press Executive Board Chair Peggy McCracken with copies to University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman, Dean Janet A Weiss; and Provost Teresa Sullivan, demanding that the University of Michigan Press continue its contract with Pluto Press. Further, we ask that you forward this request for support and suggested support letter to those on any list that you may maintain or have access to.
We have prepared a sample email or letter together with emails and postal addressees of University of Michigan Press committee members below but also feel free to compose your own. Time is of the essence so please act quickly.
Thank you for your kind support.
For the Committee for an Open Discussion of Zionism
Click this link to view the sample letter and UM Press committee member details.
Howard Zinn is a historian, playwright, and social activist. This letter was published on the Web site of the Committee for an Open Discussion of Zionism.