12 January 2019

Zionist Attack on Angela Davies, Symbol of the Black anti-Racist Struggle, Backfires

Once again the Israel Lobby Abuses the Holocaust to support Racism and Apartheid

It is a familiar tale. A heroine of the Black struggle expresses their support for the Palestinian struggle and the Boycott of Israel and the Zionist lobby immediately uses the memory of the Jewish dead of the Holocaust in order to plead the cause of Israeli Apartheid.
The same people who have nothing to say about Trump’s war against migrants or Netanyahu’s cosying up to anti-Semitic rulers such as Hungary’s Orban, Brazil’s Bolsinaro or Poland’s Mateusz Morawiecki and who either turn the other way when Steve Bannon is in town or who positively welcome him, are up in arms when a Black woman, a legend in her own lifetime, a former Black Panther, prisoner and member of the US Communist Party, is honoured.
When the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute awarded the Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award to Angela Davies, who has been a symbol of the fight against racism and oppression, these miserable Holocaust hucksters immediately cried ‘anti-Semitism’. Of course Angela Davies hadn’t uttered even one word that was hostile to Jews as Jews.
This didn’t stop the Zionist Birmingham Holocaust Education Center writing to the Executive of the BCRI saying that it found Angela Davies’s support for BDS ‘very troubling as it targets the Jewish people excessively.’ Well yes, it’s probably true that those who are the primary targets of BDS are Jewish. This is not surprising as it is Israeli Jews who are practising a form of Apartheid.  However they are no more targeted because they are Jewish than South Africans were targeted because they were White.
The actions against Angela Davies have produced an immediate reaction and caused Israel to be even more associated with White racism.  When the cowardly corporate Directors of the BCRI withdrew the Award they were immediately deluged by an avalanche of protests. The Zionist Holocaust centre began backtracking and the Directors were forced to resign including their Chairman, Mike Oatridge, a former Honda Executive.
As Palestine Legal, said the rescinding of the Award put Davis on
"a long list of scholars and activists who have been censored, fired, de-funded, defamed, harassed and targeted with frivolous litigation because of concerted efforts by the Israeli government and anti-Palestinian organizations in the U.S. to silence debate."
The Zionist attempts to humiliate and ban Angela Davies and the reaction to them are a sign of the increasing weakness of political Zionism in the USA. Following on from their inability to promote a Bill in the Senate making support for BDS akin to a crime and the recent election of Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, a supporter of BDS, the Zionist hold is beginning to weaken in the USA as the Jewish community itself becomes more divided. For this we can thank, at least in part, Donald Trump.  Indeed according to Netanyahu, Evangelical Christians are Israel’s best friends. For American Jews that isn’t true.
Tony Greenstein

Angela Davis, Photo Source: Courtesy of Columbia GSAPP. Creative Commons license // Birmingham Watch

PRESS RELEASE                      Tuesday January 8, 2019
Birmingham City Council
Contact: Chiara Perry
Phone: 205-254-2036

On the heels of the news that broke over the weekend that the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute rescinded an award that was to be presented to Dr. Angela Davis, the Birmingham City Council unanimously passed a resolution of support for the civil rights icon.

The BCRI issued a statement saying “supporters and other concerned individuals and organizations, both inside and outside of our local community, began to make requests that we reconsider our decision,” and claimed Davis did not meet the criteria for the Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award.

It has since been reported that Davis’s long-time support of Palestine and calls for a boycott of Israel was seen as an issue for the BCRI board.
Councilor Steven Hoyt issued this statement during today’s City Council meeting regarding the matter (he later called for a resolution of support that was unanimously approved):

“I want to say something about what we’ve experienced in the last couple of days since we learned on Saturday that the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute decided to withdraw an award that was to be given to Dr. Angela Davis.
 It is absolutely embarrassing to withdraw an award and it’s disingenuous that we would be selective in our measure of one’s humanity without considering the totality of their lives. We are products of our experiences, so where is the grace in this matter? She didn’t nominate herself. The nominating committee deemed her worthy and now she’s not. All money isn’t good money, especially if it’s contingent on a partial view akin to “don’t shout until I tell you to shout.”
 Where is the inclusivity? The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute was founded principally to embrace all cultures and all people from all walks of life. In the academic community, professors like Dr. Davis have freedom. Colleges like UAB don’t agree with everything that every professor says. But we are to respect their opinions because sometimes their teachings can provoke new thoughts. So to judge someone by a portion of their work and not the body of their work is just not right.
 Here we are in a society where banks owned slaves. Do we stop using those banks? We have former presidents who owned slaves and yet do we not honor them as founding fathers of the United States of America? So where is the grace? It’s disheartening and embarrassing that you would judge a person by a segment of their life.
 This woman lived it. A bomb couldn’t have gone off at Center Street and she not experience it and yet we’ve forgotten about that part. We let a few people decide how we celebrate the black community. That’s an indictment. We all should be outraged because this was the epicenter of civil rights. Her influence is international and this makes it look like everyone respects her but us. She’s a champion for women’s rights, race relations and here she has an opportunity to be honored by her hometown and this is how it get’s handled. I’m embarrassed to serve in a city that would support this.
 George Wallace said “Segregation now, segregation forever,” but he said he changed his heart. We accepted that and there were a whole lot of black folks that voted for him to be governor.
 But now we have this woman — I want to emphasize, this woman, because they wouldn’t treat a man like that — and you treat her wrong. It’s not right. You can’t mischaracterize a person for one part of their life when their work is so broad and their heart is inclusive.
 There are some things that are in the works where the city still plans to honor her. She’s one of our daughters. It’s important that young people know the body of her work. Not just a piece of it. Sometimes it takes an outside voice. She’s gone into communities around the world to bring awareness to humanitarian issues. Her entire life has been about bringing civil rights to all people. And for that we must honor her and celebrate the life of one of our own.”
This press release was written by Cody Owens, Public Information Officer, in the Birmingham City Council Office of Public Information. For media inquiries please contact the Interim Director of Public Information, Chiara Perry at 205.254.2294.

January 9, 2019
Birmingham Watch
Retired federal judge U.W. Clemon spoke during a Birmingham Committee for Truth and Reconciliation press conference in support of Angela Davis. Jan. 9, 2019.  Source: Solomon Crenshaw Jr. // Birmingham Watch

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute’s controversial cancelation of its plan to honor civil rights icon Angela Davis continues to generate aftershocks.
A grassroots collection of civic, religious, legal, educational and business leaders announced Wednesday that it will honor Davis in a day that will conclude with an evening event – A Conversation with Angela Davis.
Earlier in the day, three members of the BCRI board of directors announced their resignation from that body. Chairman Mike Oatridge, first vice chairman Walter Body and secretary Janice Kelsey stepped away, effective immediately.
In a joint statement, the three said it was an honor to be associated with the institution, its leadership, staff and supporters.
As members of this board, we regret the circumstances surrounding the selection process regarding the 2018 Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award and the dissension this has caused,” the release read. “We care deeply about this institution and its continued success. … It is hoped this move will enable the City of Birmingham to create a board structure that will best enable the BCRI to continue its critical mission in the future.”
The BCRI had chosen Davis to receive the Shuttlesworth award during its annual gala next month. But several days ago, the institute rescinded that offer and canceled the gala, saying in a statement that Davis “does not meet all of the criteria on which the award is based.”
Standing in the middle of Kelly Ingram Park and across the street from BCRI on Wednesday, members of the Birmingham Committee for Truth and Reconciliation said it will honor Davis, a Birmingham native, on Feb. 16.
The committee, reconstituted from a civil rights group active in the 1960s, includes 31 persons. Among its members are former Birmingham Mayor Richard Arrington, retired federal judge U.W. Clemon, Birmingham Times founder Jesse Lewis and Woke Vote founder DeJuana Thompson.
During the press conference, Thompson read excerpts from an open letter to Davis, their “shero.”
We want you to know that Birmingham stands with you,” she read. “Dr. Davis, we will not allow any denial of your life, legacy and impact around global human rights to persist because we love you, we honor you and we will fight with you.”
Clemon said later he did not know why BCRI had revoked its invitation to Davis. He added that he thought the move was completely inappropriate “and I so expressed it to everyone that I know.”
“To the extent that it was revoked, it was because of her position on the Palestinian situation,” he said. “Her views are identical to mine. I believe there is a longstanding injustice in the Palestinian relationship with the state of Israel.”
AL.com reported having obtained a Jan. 2 letter from Birmingham Holocaust Education Center to the board of directors of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, expressing “concern and disappointment” with BCRI’s honoring activist Davis with the Fred L. Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award at its annual gala and urging the Institute to “reconsider your decision.” AL.com reported that BHEC cited “recent outspoken support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.
Reading from a prepared statement at the press conference, retired circuit judge Houston Brown said Birmingham Committee for Truth and Reconciliation believes,
“There can be no healing or reconciliation of our deep divisions without truth and honest dialogue. We look forward to celebrating Dr. Davis and honoring a true icon who once called Birmingham home.”
Details of the Feb. 16 events will be released later. “As far as the committee is concerned, the events will be open to the public,” Clemon said. “We don’t anticipate there will be any charges to the public for contact to Miss Davis.”
Retired circuit judge Houston Brown announces day to honor Angela Davis during Birmingham Committee for Truth and Reconciliation press conference Jan. 9, 2019. The events will be Feb. 16, the same day the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute had planned to honor her during a gala before rescinding its offer last week. Video for BirminghamWatch by Solomon Crenshaw Jr.

Birmingham Institute’s recission of Angela Davis award over BDS becomes an embarrassment to pro-Israel groups that applied pressure

Philip Weiss on 7 Comments
There are two big stories involving Israel and BDS in the American news this week. One is the Senate Republicans pushing a bill to punish supporters of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions and thereby divide the Democratic Party.
The other is the uproar over the decision by the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute to rescind an award to Angela Davis because of the activist/scholar’s support for BDS, which one Birmingham Jewish group claimed “targets the Jewish people excessively.”
Davis was to receive the Fred Shuttlesworth prize on February 16. The BCRI changed its mind about the award, and canceled the gala, because of what is being reported as pressure from the Jewish community.
The story is proving to be a giant embarrassment to both the Civil Rights Institute and those Jewish organizations, showing the overreach of the Israel lobby. Angela Davis is now being showered with praise and the Institute is being condemned internationally; so much so that the top three officers of the organization resigned within days of rescinding the award (the chairman is a former Honda executive). And one Jewish organization that applied pressure on the BCRI has tried to back away from its own letter to the Institute!
Roy Johnson, a reporter for AL.com, summarized the scandal on Roland Martin’s show.
This has been a big blow to the institute, it’s been a black eye that certainly extends around the world, the coverage has been global. You had to see some heads roll… The board is in the crosshairs of a lot of people in this city.
Both the Birmingham City Council and the Birmingham School Board made statements in support of Angela Davis, a native daughter of the city. Davis will be honored at a “grassroots” event on February 16, Johnson said; and it sounds like that event will be a gala of its own. “Organizations around the city are coming out in favor of honoring Angela Davis.”
Johnson stated bluntly that the decision was a mistake. He is still trying to determine “how they came to this extremely bad decision, and what were the factors, what were the pressures… and how they could not see this fallout coming.”
As for those pressures: “It came… due to pressure from Jewish organizations, from many Jewish organizations in the city.”
Two of those organizations are the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center and the Birmingham Jewish Federations. The executive director of the Federations publicly condemned the award on the organization’s Facebook page (a post later removed, according to NPR). The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is surely sensitive to the Federations because, according to federal nonprofit filings, the Institute has received many gifts over the years from people who also give money to the Federations.
As for the Holocaust Education Center (BHEC), Roy Johnson reported at AL.Com that on January 2, its board sent a letter to the Institute, in which it “expressed concern and disappointment” over the award and urged the Institute to “reconsider your decision.”
In the letter, obtained by AL.com, the organization cited
“recent outspoken support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, [which] is very troubling as it targets the Jewish people excessively.
“We do not suggest that Israel should be immune from criticism,” it continued, “but BDS ignores gross human rights transgressions by other countries around the world and focuses solely on Israel, the world’s only Jewish state.”
Johnson reported that the BHEC’s entire executive committee and its director signed the letter but they are now trying to walk it back.
Our intention was to go on record about our concerns in a private letter sent to BCRI leadership,” [Board President Deborah Layman] said in an email to AL.com, responding to query about the BHEC’s letter. “We had no further part in the decision made by BCRI to cancel the event, and we were surprised at their decision.”
Regrets they’ve had a few: “I haven’t run across anyone in the Jewish community that expected that BCRI would comply with their request and then cancel their event,” Johnson said on Roland Martin’s show.
The award had also been slammed in Southern Jewish Life magazine, which headlined its story: “Prominent BDS activist Davis to receive Civil Rights Institute’s Shuttlesworth Award,” and referred to Shuttlesworth as a “towering” figure in the civil rights movement.
The embarrassment is resonating in terms of black-Jewish relations, of course. The two groups were allies during the civil rights struggle, but BDS is evidently pushing the mainstream Jewish organizations apart from black institutions. And people are making the connection between Davis’s rebuke and CNN’s firing of Marc Lamont Hill because he had said at the U.N. that Palestine should be free “from the river to the sea.”
The list of casualties is a long one. I’d add history teacher Joel Doerfler’s resignation from the Riverdale Country School last spring after he came under an onslaught of pressure for his pro-Palestinian views, mounted by donors to the school who met privately with the American Jewish Committee to coordinate their campaign. And of course the firing of Steven Salaita at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign after he had tweeted his outrage over the Gaza massacre of 2014 and the school’s chancellor sought to “appease among others, pro-Israel donors.” The chancellor later resigned from UIUC largely because of the embarrassment that case caused. But Salaita’s career was in the process derailed.
The Angela Davis case looks to be different because the pushback is so instantaneous, the embarrassment so keen, and the damage is being experienced by the bad guys, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center, and the Jewish Federations.
On that Roland Martin show, Joe Madison of Sirius XM radio says,
“It takes you back to the 60’s and even the 50’s… I’m just so glad that Fred Shuttlesworth is not alive to see this.”
Rina Shah Bharara  says what Rashida Tlaib says (and is being unfairly maligned for saying), this is about the American interest:
“Last I checked this is the United States of America, it’s not Israel. This whole idea of defending Israel at all costs is so confuses me on so many levels. I see it happening most out of the right. It’s coming out of the left as well. The conflict between Israelis and Palestinians… why we can’t inject our American ideals into this… and say this is wrong.”
While William Spriggs, an economist at Howard University says something we are bound to hear more and more as BDS breaks up the Democratic Party’s traditional affiliation with Israel:
“It creates division within the progressive community when we don’t need division.”
More responses. The NPR story on the case quoted Jewish Voice for Peace:
To argue that Angela Davis is unworthy of a civil rights award is beyond shameful. And to dance around the fact that it’s due to her outspoken support of Palestinian rights makes it outrageous.”
A JVP Academic Advisory Council letter in support of Davis–
“The decision seems to stem from a misinformed view that to advocate for Palestinian human rights is somehow offensive to the Jewish community”
has over 350 academic signatures. JVP is also collecting signatures from non-academics.
And here is a National Lawyers Guild statement:emphasizing the ways that the civil rights movement inspired BDS.
it is appalling that the award would be rescinded due to Dr. Angela Davis’s support of Palestinian political prisoners, and the nonviolent Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
The BDS movement is part of a long tradition of freedom movements using economic pressure as a non-violent tactic. This legacy is particularly strong in the American South. In fact, Omar Barghouti, a co-founder of the movement, points out BDS was“ inspired partly by the American civil rights movement.” The well-documented and internationally recognized violations of Palestinian human rights by the Israeli government and military are an intentional consequence of ideological, political, legal, economic, and military systems known better as Zionism.  BDS is not, and should never be confused with, anti-semitism. Rather, it is our moral consciousness put into action. Suggesting that BDS is synonymous with anti-semitism invisibilizes Jews, including members of the NLG Southern Region, who oppose the state of Israel’s human rights record and support BDS as a non-violent resistance strategy.  Palestine matters because ending colonialism matters. Palestine matters because we must stand up and say that all people have the right to dignity, and self-determination. Palestine matters because the fight against global white supremacy won’t be over until the structural inequalities throughout Israel/Palestine are addressed and made right.
The NLG makes the obvious connection to the Republican Party’s efforts to go after BDS, an effort many Democrats will surely join after the shutdown ends!
This week the US Senate attempted to bring bill S1 to the floor that would attempt to silence the BDS movement and chill our freedom of speech. Dr. Angela Davis has always spoken truth to power, and devoted much of her lifelong activism to international solidarity.  By connecting U.S. grassroots campaigns against state violence and racism to movement struggles in other parts of the world, Dr. Davis helps the world become more intimate. She brings us closer to understanding the nature of justice, and that the collective work needed to dismantle systemic injustice requires that we call out all oppression.
I’d note that Alabama Senator Doug Jones was one of four Democratic senators to side with Republicans on that BDS measure in a vote two days ago. And Doug Jones is a former vice chair of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. He surely feels much of the pressure that the BCRI did. I imagine donors are a concern for him.

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