A Message from Howard Zinn on behalf of the Committee for an Open Discussion of Zionism

Send a letter to the University of Michigan Press

PLEASE FORWARD TO YOUR MAILING LISTS

A Message from Howard Zinn on behalf of the Committee for an Open Discussion of Zionism

Dear Friend:

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.

Sincerely,
Howard Zinn
For the Committee for an Open Discussion of Zionism

Please send your letters and emails to:

Professor Peggy McCracken
Executive Board Chair
University of Michigan Press
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
peggymcc@umich.edu

President Mary Sue Coleman
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
presoff@umich.edu

Janet A. Weiss Dean of the Rackham Graduate School and Vice Provost
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1070
janetw@umich.edu

Teresa A. Sullivan Provost and Executive Vice-President for Academic Affairs
3074 Fleming Building
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1340
tsull@umich.edu
Sample Letter:

Dear Professor McCracken:

It has come to my attention that The University of Michigan Press has recently withdrawn its distribution of Prof. Joel Kovel’s book, Overcoming Zionism and has indicated its intention to review, and perhaps cancel, its distribution contract with the publisher of Prof. Kovel’s book, Pluto Press. It is my understanding that these steps were taken immediately following a barrage of complaints from a group called StandWithUs Michgan, an offshoot of the notorious Campus Watch censorship organization. I have heard that distribution of Prof. Kovel’s book has been resumed but that the Pluto Press contract remains under a cloud.

Pluto is a valuable intellectual resource, publishing critical and progressive books of consistently high quality. It is a highly respected alternative academic press. Its discontinuation by the U.of M. Press would directly inhibit people’s access to non-mainstream material and would impede critical thought, discussion and debate on important issues, especially those concerning Israel/Palestine and the Middle East.

Further, the University’s suspension of its distribution contract with Pluto Press under these circumstances would constitute a flagrant violation of the principles of academic freedom and freedom of speech. I strongly protest against any such move. My high regard for the University of Michigan would be seriously diminished if such a suspension took place and it would affect any future relationship I might have with the University.

Sincerely,
[SIGN YOUR NAME]

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