[OPE-L] Letter from Howard Zinn re The University of Michigan Press

From: glevy@PRATT.EDU
Date: Sun Oct 07 2007 - 16:21:43 EDT

---------------------------- Original Message ----------------------------
Subject: Letter from Howard Zinn -- PLEASE SIGN & SEND
Date:    Sun, October 7, 2007 2:56 pm


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 Kovelís
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 Ė but not suppressed.

But even more serious is the Universityís 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 Plutoís 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 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 letter together with
email and postal addressees of University of
Michigan Press committee members below. Please
send this immediately, or feel free to compose
your own. Time is of the essence so please act quickly.

Thank you for your kind support.

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

President Susan Coleman
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

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

Teresa A. Sullivan
Provost and Executive Vice-President for Academic Affairs
3074 Fleming Building
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1340


Dear Professor McCracken:

It has come to my attention that The University
of Michigan Press has recently withdrawn its
distribution of Prof. Joel Kovelís book,
Overcoming Zionism and has indicated its
intention to review, and perhaps cancel, its
distribution contract with the publisher of Prof.
Kovelís 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. Kovelís 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 peopleís 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 Universityís 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.



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