JVP launches campaign to retract unjust revocation of an award

Palestine Update 207
Opinion

JVP launches campaign to retract unjust revocation of an award

On January 5, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI), a 26-year-old museum and research center, announced that it was rescinding its “Fred L. Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award” after announcing scholar-activist Angela Davis as the winner. The award was to be handed out on February 16 at its annual gala, which has also been cancelled.

Davis does “not meet all of the criteria on which the award is based,” stated a comment from BCRI’s board. “While we recognize Ms. Davis’ stature as a scholar and prominent figure in civil rights history, we believe the decision is consistent with the ideals of the award’s namesake, Rev. Shuttlesworth.”

It has been reported that some Jewish leaders and residents of the city protested Davis because of her support of the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions movement, which seeks to hold Israel accountable for injustices it has imposed upon Palestine. But the Jewish Voices for Peace has issued a call on the BCRI to reinstitute the award. The signature campaign affirms Professor Davis’ visionary commitment to the “indivisibility of justice.” It further states: “(We) believe we are all responsible for pursuing social justice for all human beings, without exception—which includes pursuing social justice for Palestinians”.Meanwhile three board members have resigned from the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, after it rescinded its award purportedly owing in part to criticism from Jewish leaders.

Jewish Voice for Peace is a national, grassroots organization inspired by Jewish tradition to work for a just and lasting peace according to principles of human rights, equality, and international law for all the people of Israel and Palestine. It has an extensive network of 200,000 online supporters, over 70 chapters, a youth wing, a Rabbinic Council, an Artist Council, an Academic Advisory Council, and an Advisory Board made up of leading U.S. intellectuals and artists.

Read below to track the JVP campaign.

Ranjan Solomon
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Back in the mid-90s, three young Jewish women realized they could no longer keep silent about Israel’s occupation – and decided to do something about it. Watch their story.
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550+ Academics Stand with Angela Davis, call on Birmingham Civil Rights Institute to re-issue human rights award

Over 550 academics from across the U.S have signed onto the JVP Academic Letter in Support of Angela Davis, (see below), condemning the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute for cancelling the Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award intended for Professor Davis.

Signatories to the JVP Academic Advisory Council letter include Professors Noam Chomsky, Judith Butler, Bettina Aptheker, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Robin D. G. Kelley, Kim Tallbear, Joanne Barker and Julie Livingston, among others.

The Academic Advisory Council of Jewish Voice for Peace issued the letter last week, stating: “We share Professor Davis’ visionary commitment to the ‘indivisibility of justice,’ and believe we are all responsible for pursuing social justice for all human beings, without exception—which includes pursuing social justice for Palestinians.”

“Angela Davis has been an invaluable ally to Jews seeking justice in the Middle East. Who else stands for the unity of this struggle to defeat the systemic indignities of the world? She illuminates the future for those who no longer see the light. Anyone who opposes her opposes justice itself. Anyone who casts doubt on the integrity of her principles and actions fears justice and truth.”Judith Butler, Maxine Elliot Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature and the Program of Critical Theory at the University of California, Berkeley and member of the JVP Academic Advisory Council

Jewish Voice for Peace also launched a general petition in support of Angela Davis last week, which has garnered over 16,500 signatures.

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute announced last week it was cancelling the Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award intended for Professor Angela Davis, following criticisms of Professor Davis’ support for Palestinian human rights. The decision was likely premised on the misinformed view that to advocate for Palestinian human rights is offensive to the Jewish community.

“Having known Angela Davis all of my life, and treasuring her remarkable spirit and indefatigable energy in solidarity with so many peoples suffering on our planet, the actions of the BCRI Board were incomprehensible to me. Angela remains the highly esteemed daughter of Birmingham, and a profoundly appropriate recipient of the Fred Shuttlesworth Award. [I urge the BCRI Board to] rescind and restore, heal and persevere in joyful reconciliation.” Bettina Aptheker, Distinguished Professor, Presidential Co-Chair for Feminist Critical Race & Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz

“Rescinding a human rights award to Angela Davis because of her support for Palestinian human rights is unethical and insulting. Professor Davis’ credentials as an activist and scholar are worthy of the highest respect, and her advocacy for Palestinian rights is in no way disrespectful to Jewish people. Over 350 academics, many of whom are scholars of Jewish studies or Jewish themselves, are proud to defend Angela Davis.”Tallie Ben Daniel, Research and Education Manager, Jewish Voice for Peace

JVP Academic Letter in Support of Angela Davis
Jewish Voice for Peace calls on the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute to rescind their cancellation of the Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award intended for Professor Angela Davis. Angela Davis is a tireless advocate for the human rights of all people, a leading civil rights activist and a renowned scholar. She is eminently qualified to receive the Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award.

The cancelling of this award by the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is unjust, insulting and ill-conceived, especially because it is likely premised on Professor Davis’ long-standing support for Palestinian human rights. The decision seems to stem from a misinformed view that to advocate for Palestinian human rights is somehow offensive to the Jewish community.

As a Jewish organization dedicated to justice, dignity and equality for all people in Palestine/Israel, we share Professor Davis’ visionary commitment to the “indivisibility of justice,” and believe we are all responsible for pursuing social justice for all human beings, without exception—which includes pursuing social justice for Palestinians.

Professor Davis’s activist and scholarly life epitomizes the spirit and intention of this award and we call upon the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute to honor Professor Davis for the totality of her work.

Don’t befriend me for a day, and leave me a month. Don’t get close to me if you’re going to leave. Don’t say what you don’t do. Be close or get away.

 لا تصاحبني يوماً .. لتهجرني شهراً ولا تقربني .. لتبعدني .. لا تقل ما لا تفعل كُن قريباً .. أو ابتعد.

Mahmoud Darwish.