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In October 2018 the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute announced that Angela Davis, a Birmingham native, would receive the Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights award, calling her “one of the most globally recognized champions of human rights, giving voice to those who are powerless to speak”.
Recently, the organization changed its position and said Davis does not meet the criteria after all but did not explain why. It is now clear that it is because of her outspoken support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement that protests against Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.
DIN urges all activists to distribute the statement by sister Davis on this issue.
Angela Davis’ Statement about Birmingham
On Saturday January 5, I was stunned to learn that the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute Board of Directors had reversed their previous decision to award me the Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award. Although the BCRI refused my requests to reveal the substantive reasons for this action, I later learned that my long-term support of justice for Palestine was at issue. This seemed particularly unfortunate, given that my own freedom was secured – and indeed my life was saved – by a vast international movement. And I have devoted much of my own activism to international solidarity and, specifically, to linking struggles in other parts of the world to U.S. grassroots campaigns against police violence, the prison industrial complex, and racism more broadly. The rescinding of this invitation was thus not primarily an attack against me but rather against the spirit of the indivisibility of justice.
I support Palestinian political prisoners just as I support current political prisoners in the Basque Country, in Catalunya, in India, and in other parts of the world. I have indeed expressed opposition to policies and practices of the state of Israel, as I express similar opposition to U.S. support for the Israeli occupation of Palestine and to other discriminatory U.S. policies. Through my experiences at Elizabeth Irwin High School in New York City and at Brandeis University in the late fifties and early sixties, and my subsequent time in graduate school in Frankfurt, Germany, I learned to be as passionate about opposition to antisemitism as to racism. It was during this period that I was also introduced to the Palestinian cause. I am proud to have worked closely with Jewish organizations and individuals on issues of concern to all of our communities throughout my life. In many ways, this work has been integral to my growing consciousness regarding the importance of protesting the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
The trip to Birmingham, where I was born and raised, to receive the Fred Shuttlesworth Award, was certain to be the highlight of my year—especially since I knew Rev. Shuttlesworth personally and attended school with his daughter, Patricia, and because my mother, Sallye B. Davis, worked tirelessly for the BCRI during its early years. Moreover, my most inspirational Sunday School teacher Odessa Woolfolk was the driving force for the institute’s creation. Despite the BCRI’s regrettable decision, I look forward to being in Birmingham in February for an alternative event organized by those who believe that the movement for civil rights in this moment must include a robust discussion of all of the injustices that surround us.
Angela Y. Davis
January 7, 2019 to exist.
On December 8, 2018, the Islamic Human Right Commission (IHRC), member of the Decolonial International Network (DIN), organized a successful conference in London with the theme Islamophobia and Silencing Criticism of Israel.
One of the speakers was Ramon Grosfoguel, founder of DIN. Ramon stated that Israel is an extremist state that practices and promotes terrorism against civilian populations while simultaneously has the audacity to accuse those who resist its crimes of being “terrorist”.
He outlined the double standards that are currently in place. For example, one can freely send and raise money for the IDF (with many celebrities recently attending and promoting a fundraiser with the exact aim) but those doing the same for Hamas or other forms of Palestinian resistance are immediately labelled as ‘terrorists’ or ‘terrorist supporters.’ People across the board are fearful of announcing their support for Palestine lest they too are painted with this unsavoury and undeserved brush.
He explained that there is an institutional framework in place to criminalise the supporters of Palestine. Israel micromanages every person, group and institution that criticises Israel. The Israeli lobby is automatically aware of every kind of criticism – even if it has no real impact. There is always a response to criticisms of Israel regardless of who they are from. In particular, those who are proponents of BDS will always find themselves under fire. Artists, musicians and actors who come out in support of Palestine are also labelled ‘anti-Semitic.’ Israel winning public support and opinion in the West is a major strategic operation.
On December 22, 2018, the right-wing news site The Telegraph in the UK published an article attacking IHRC and Ramon with the title: Group awarded more than £140,000 of EU finding described zionism as a ‘criminal enterprise’. It invokes Dave Rich, head of policy at the Community Security Trust, which claims to monitor anti-Semitism, and quotes him against Ramon and the IHRC: “This speech evokes classical antisemitic conspiracy theories, with its talk of global Zionist frameworks and lobbies controlling what people think, and it does so to encourage people to support terrorist groups that are banned in this country. It is yet another example of the IHRC’s extremism.”
The Telegraph calls for an end to the funding of the participation of IHRC in a European research project on Islamophobia. This kind of attack is an illustration of what Ramon in the conference called the “micromanagement” of every person, group and institution that criticises Israel. Now the “micromanagement” he spoke about is applied to his own speech.
It reminds us of the days of slavery on the plantations of the Americans where enslaved Africans were monitored in each and every movement in search of a sign of protest and resistance. That kind of micromanagement was effective in the short term on some plantations in some periods, but could not prevent the historical demise of the system of slavery. And so it goes for Zionism. Its micromanagement of resistance can cause inconvenience and problems in the short term, but one day justice will prevail and Zionism and the apartheid state of Israel will cease to exist.
This year London and Brussels are the venues where the annual Genocide Memorial Day is being organized, a day focused on remembering man’s inhumanity to man. It takes place on the third Sunday of January each year.
In London the theme is ‘Genocide as a tool for colonialism’.
Venue: Sunday, 20 January 2019 from 12pm – 4pm, P21 Gallery, 21 Chalton St, Kings Cross, London NW1 1JD.
In Brussels the Bruxelles Panthères are organizing a conference with the theme: ‘What Belgium owes to Congo’. Speakers are Sandew Hira, coordinator of DIN, Véronique Clette-Gakuba, researcher at ULB, Toma Muteba Luntumbue, art historian and Martin Vander Elst, researcher at the Laboratory of Prospective Anthropology (UCL).
Venue: Friday, January 18, 2019 from 19:00 to 22:00, Pianofabriek, Fortstraat 35, 1060 Saint-Gilles.