US academics stand with rights activist Angela Davis targeted for her pro-Palestine views

NEW YORK, Tuesday, Over 550 academics from across the United States have signed onto the Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) Academic Letter in Support of Angela Davis, a renowned academic and human rights activist, condemning the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute for cancelling the Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award intended for Professor Davis because of her pro-Palestine views.

Signatories to the 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, said a JVP press release.

The Academic Advisory Council of Jewish Voice for Peace issued its 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.

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, said 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.

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 (BCRI) 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.

“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,” said 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, according to Tallie Ben Daniel, Research and Education Manager, Jewish Voice for Peace.

In the Academic Letter in Support of Angela Davis, the JVP called on BCRI to rescind its cancellation of the 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, it said.

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.

Source: Palestinian News & Info Agency