Ali Abunimah: Full equality message too much for New Mexico Jewish Federation, UNM Hillel

Ali Abunimah’s post is worth reprinting in whole:

Let the Sun Shine In: Israel lobby tries to censor my appearance at University of New Mexico

It has come to my attention that the Jewish Federation of New Mexico and Hillel at the University of New Mexico are actively trying to censor my lecture at the University of New Mexico next month by writing to departments and professors who may co-sponsor it as they co-sponsor countless other educational events on campus. Below is a copy of a letter that has been sent to departments, signed by Sam Sokolove, Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of New Mexico and Sara Koplik, Director of Hillel at the University of New Mexico.

Typically, they throw in everything to try to defame and tar me: Hamas, Hizbullah, anti-Semitism, making Jewish students feel uncomfortable — all the usual defamatory silencing tactics to try to suppress debate and discussion about Israel’s apartheid and the alternatives that respect everyone. As they surely know, I have been an unflagging advocate of full equality and human rights for all Palestinians and Israeli Jews and others living in historic Palestine, and am guided by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Why do they not want students at the University of New Mexico to hear this message?

Instead of trying to censor my speech and intimidate departments from co-sponsoring it with the most lurid, false and manipulative charges, I invite them to attend and to urge students to attend and listen and ask me any questions they want.

Dear XXXXXXXXXX

It has come to our attention that the XXXXXXXXXX Department at UNM is co-presenting an appearance by Ali Abunimah, co-founder of the Electronic Intifada at the University of New Mexico campus on Sunday, November 7th. We are deeply troubled by the implications of the XXXXXXXXXX Department lending its support to this presentation.

As you are likely aware, Abunimah is a representative of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, a global movement intent on destroying Israel and her credibility in the world. It is an adjunct to what Hamas and Hezbollah are doing frontally, and according to the Anti-Defamation League, “BDS is about the three ‘D’s: “Demonization, Deligitimization, and applying a Double Standard.”

This movement is disinterested in peace, the exchange of ideas or legitimate dialogue. Its tactics deny Israel’s cultural products; deny Israel’s emissaries the right to be heard; delegitimize the Jewish historical ties to Israel; and portray Zionism not as an expression of peoplehood, but as an extension of European colonization.

This is all anti-Semitism in its clearest, most noxious form.

Whatever your personal views are on this matter, you should be aware of two things:

  • The XXXXXXXXXXX Department’s support of this speaker sends a tacit message of support for the anti-Semitic message of BDS;
  • The department’s endorsement sends a chilling message to the Jewish students and faculty of this public institution that the legitimacy of Israel within your department is questioned.

For those who care deeply about true peace, this is not an issue of “equal time” or “balance” on behalf of the pro-Israel perspective. Nor do we oppose Abunimah’s right to speak. Rather, we oppose the patina of respectability that your sponsorship provides to the message of demonizing The Other that is part and parcel of the BDS movement.

We ask in the strongest terms that you reconsider your department’s presentation of Ali Abunimah.

Sam Sokolove
Executive Director
Jewish Federation of New Mexico

Sara Koplik, PhD.
Director
Hillel at the University of New Mexico

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