Thursday, October 18, 2007

Pluto Press: Michael Smith and Howard Zinn ask you to please help....

Dear Friends,

My friend Joel Kovel's just published book Overcoming Zionism may be suppressed. Indeed, his publisher, Pluto Press, may lose its distribution contract with the University of Michigan Press. Please read the details below and write the University of Michigan people encouraging them to stand up for the free discussion of ideas and not knuckle under to the Israel lobby. Thank you.

The University is supposed to make its decision on October l9th. I am sending you the addresses of the four (4) relevant U Mich people. This is a critical fight since Pluto Press is one of the main progressive publishers in the world (ie. they publish Chomsky) and if they lose their distribution arrangement with U Mich it would be devastating, to them, and to the movement. We can win this one. Please send Howard Zinn's letter out to your lists as well.


Michael Smith

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 attach a sample letter, below, along with email and postal addressees, for your convenience. 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.

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

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 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 Michigan, 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.



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