Thursday, September 13, 2007


UMich Press Story Gets Legs; +550 Books Still at Risk

More than two weeks after it first broke on this blog, the mainstream media has now picked up the story of the University of Michigan Press' collusion with Zionists in suppressing intellectual and academic freedom in this country. Inside Higher Ed (IHE) ran the story on September 11th with the New York Sun, Michigan Daily, and the Ann Arbor News chiming in a day later. I think IHE and the Daily had the best coverage and that's not just because they were only ones to credit this blog. The good news is that UM Press is once again selling Overcoming Zionism. The bad news is that more than 550 book titles are still in serious danger of losing their only American distributor.

Concerning the e-mail from UM Press Director Phil Pochoda, wherein Pochoda first characterizes the book as "hate speech," the IHE story notes that they did reach Pochoda and he "declined to comment on the e-mail, but Kovel said it was accurate." The Daily writes:
In a statement, the University Press's executive board said it has "deep reservations" about "Overcoming Zionism," but because its contract calls for it to distribute all of Pluto Press's books, it wouldn't break the contract for that book alone.

"Such a course raises both First Amendment issues and concerns about the appearance of censorship," the board said. "As members of the University community dedicated to academic freedom and open debate among differing views, the Executive Board stands firmly for freedom of expression, and against even the appearance of censorship."

The board did say that Pluto's decision to publish "Overcoming Zionism" has led it to reconsider the University Press's 4-year-old contract with Pluto. It plans to make a decision later this fall about whether it will continue contracting with the company.
Here's some of what the American Library Association says about censorship:
What Is Censorship?

Censorship is the suppression of ideas and information that certain persons—individuals, groups or government officials—find objectionable or dangerous. It is no more complicated than someone saying, “Don’t let anyone read this book, or buy that magazine, or view that film, because I object to it! ” Censors try to use the power of the state to impose their view of what is truthful and appropriate, or offensive and objectionable, on everyone else. Censors pressure public institutions, like libraries, to suppress and remove from public access information they judge inappropriate or dangerous, so that no one else has the chance to read or view the material and make up their own minds about it. The censor wants to prejudge materials for everyone.

How Does Censorship Happen?

Censorship occurs when expressive materials, like books, magazines, films and videos, or works of art, are removed or kept from public access. Individuals and pressure groups identify materials to which they object. Sometimes they succeed in pressuring schools not to use them, libraries not to shelve them, book and video stores not to carry them, publishers not to publish them, or art galleries not to display them. Censorship also occurs when materials are restricted to particular audiences, based on their age or other characteristics.
If the state-owned University of Michigan succumbs to political pressure and effectively removes Pluto's more than 550 books from the American market because Pluto dared to publish books critical of a foreign state--apartheid Israel--then who can honestly say that this isn't a case of de facto censorship? Human rights activists and civil libertarians need to send a message, loud and clear, that this attack on intellectual and academic freedom is not going unnoticed. Wake up, people! Zionists are trying to restrict your access to ideas and information.

Write and/or call University of Michigan Press Executive Board Chairperson and University President Mary Sue Coleman and ask them to stand up for intellectual freedom and against Zionist thought control by renewing their contract with Pluto Press books. Here's the contact info:

Peggy McCracken
Associate Dean for Academic Programs and Initiatives
Rackham Graduate School
915 E. Washington St, suite 1120
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1070
Phone: (734) 764-5344
Fax: (734) 764-8163

Mary Sue Coleman, President
University of Michigan
2074 Fleming Administration Building
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1340
Phone: (734) 764-6270
Fax: (734) 936-3529

See also: State Censorship: Handala & Hasbara


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In an article it describes as "Breaking News" the Ann Arbor News is reporting that "Professors opposed to adding luxury boxes to Michigan Stadium have gathered the signatures of 600 faculty and staff on a petition urging the University of Michigan to reconsider the project." I wonder how many faculty and staff will protest when the University knuckles under to Zionist pressure and refuses to renew its contract with Pluto Press or insists on restrictive clauses that allow them to censor books critical of Israel.
Thanks for this report. I found it via googling 'Kovel'.
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