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In Solidarity With Angela Davis

January 9, 2019


Fania and Angela Davis…sisters in struggle and in life

The following letter will be mailed in the morning to the Birmingham Jewish Federation, one of the main organizations pressuring the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute to rescind a human rights award to Angela Davis. I urge others to do likewise. 

Birmingham Jewish Federation
3966 Montclair Rd, Mountain Brook
Birmingham, AL 35213

January 9, 2019

Dear BJF:

I have been reading about how it was your organization that pressured the Birmingham Civil Rights Organization to rescind a human rights award to Angela Davis, the Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award, issued by the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

What a cowardly, underhanded action on your part!

Despite all the political influence the Jewish Community has won nationally through organizations like the Anti Defamation League and the American-Israel-Public Affairs Committee, your blind support of Israel and failure to acknowledge and work against what is a process of incremental genocide and ethnic cleansing committed by the Israeli government against the Palestinian people will be your undoing. Ultimately all American Jews, myself included, will pay the price for your outright bigotry against the Palestinian people in particular and Arabs in general.

Are you blind to what the Palestinians are suffering in Gaza? How land expropriation of Palestinian property continues unabated in the West Bank as do arrests, shootings of Palestinians in the West Bank, especially but not uniquely in Area C controlled by the Israeli Defense Force? Do you still cling to the worn-out accusation that Hamas represents a threat to Israel’s existence? Are you silent about the growing cooperation between pro-Israeli Jewish groups in this country and openly fascist elements like John Hagee’s Christians United for Israel? While the world condemns Israel for the longest illegal and cruel military occupation of modern history, organizations like yours live in a Zionist bubble that denies reality. Of course you cannot do otherwise; to do so would force you to deal with Israel’s untenable actions.

As you will soon find out, those involved in torpedoing Angela’s award – and trying to smear her name – have made a mistake for which they, themselves will be discredited and exposed. It will backfire and already has. This initiative on your part, using the influence of Birmingham’s Jewish Community to demean and attack Angela Davis, smacks of racism, not only against the person of Angela Davis, but against all those struggling for human dignity and opposed to racism. It is meant to intimidate or silence all critics of the Israeli Occupation, but most especially people of color. As you are about to see, such intimidation ultimately will not work anymore. Calling people “anti-semitic” for criticizing Israel has become a hollow and empty accusation. It is not they who criticize Israeli practices that are racists but you who defend Israeli treatment of the Palestinians which has only intensified over the decades, that are bigoted.

What is going on here – besides the obvious racist attack on Angela and on any manifestation of support for the Palestinians – regardless of the forms it takes? On one level there is a special kind of viciousness, a cover for fear, fear that the hold which the Zionist narrative has had on the minds of the people of this country is unraveling at an extraordinarily fast pace.. – in this case, the fear among Zionists that people of color, Black or otherwise, are drawn to the Palestinian cause, precisely because understand racism from the experience in their daily lives; they don’t need to be lectured about racism embedded in Zionism. They know it from their own experiences and identity with the sufferings of the Palestinian people. That combines in Angela’s case with a sophisticated analysis of the history of Zionism and that of the Palestinian people in the modern era.

Further, mainstream bonkers Zionist organizations like yours also know that it is not only public figures like Angela Davis and Alice Walker who are critics – to one degree or another – of Israeli practices and oppression against the Palestinians – but that there is a sea-change of opinion, growing sympathy among Black, Brown, Red-skinned people for the fate of the Palestinians…a part of a broader shift that has been taking place for decades… a movement of solidarity that has taken many forms. And so these elements – be it AIPAC, the Rabbinical Councils, or whatever essentially try to “decapitate” the solidarity movement – attacking public figures who call for justice for the Palestinians, movement leaders, etc. It won’t work and more than likely will backfire.

It is true, as she writes in this statement, that Angela Davis has long sympathized with the Palestinians and been a critique of Israel, but it is a part of her overall concern for human justice around the world. ………

Angela’s response to all this is predictably dignified, humane..and political. She’s calling for organizing some kind of alternative event to the awards evening from which the award offered was withdrawn. Almost makes me want to go to Birmingham to attend…

Shame on you … how un-Jewish but unfortunately typically underhanded for a mainstream Jewish organization to have committed such a sleazy action.


Rob Prince

Retired Senior Lecturer of International Studies. University of Denver, Korbel School of International Studies.

Bar Mitzvahed at the Jamaica Jewish Center (in Queens, NY) in November, 1957.; stopped going to synagogue forever several months later.


Larry Grimm’s Statement

Mike Wilzoch’s Statement

Rob Prince – Further Reflections

9 Comments leave one →
  1. William Watts permalink
    January 10, 2019 2:34 am


  2. William Watts permalink
    January 10, 2019 2:35 am


    On Wednesday, January 9, 2019, View from the Left Bank: Rob Prince’s Blog wrote:

    > Rob Prince posted: ” The following letter will be mailed in the morning > to the Birmingham Jewish Federation, one of the main organizations > pressuring the Birmingham Civil Rights Organization to rescind a human > rights award to Angela Davis. I urge others to do li” >

  3. SK Levin permalink
    January 10, 2019 3:43 am

    What you say is unfortunately true, and shame on the Birmingham Federation.What you leave out in your post, however, is that racism exists just as much if not more, historically and today, among other ethnic and religous groups. By no means is this a justification. But often I am angered by the fact that we (I am Jewish) are just about the only ones to do a « mea culpa », we are the shabbath goy. Anti-Jewish sentiment within the Arab Muslim world is terrifying, and it goes way back, well before the creation of the Israeli state or colonialism and greedy Western imperialism. Which is why, although I will not stop fighting for the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel and for an end to the immoral occupation, I do not support BDS. When we attack racism everywhere, at the same time, I will join this bandwagon.

    • January 10, 2019 10:37 am

      Yes..the important thing – to fight all manifestations of racism, regardless of the source. And it is also the case that anti-Zionist sentiment has morphed into anti-Jewish sentiment. What a mess, huh? All meant to keep potential allies in the effort to make this a better world, separated and divided.

  4. Eugene V. Fitzpatrick permalink
    January 12, 2019 11:15 am

    Commentator Levin seems to have no stomach for criticizing Israel’s racism as long as racism persists elsewhere and anywhere. Thus he/she will demur from criticizing Israel ever in the future. Kind of like a Chinese-American refusing to criticize China for their treatment of the Uighurs as long as theTurks oppress the Kurds and Brazil mistreats the Amazonians. Ultimately, I’d conjecture, Levin is a closet Israel supremicist, with DNA the determining factor even if subliminal.

    The Likudists know BDS won’t do damage economically but can do a lot of damage morally or, more crassly, p.r.-wise. The strong outcry against it, one manifestation of which is present in Levin’s comment, is a sign that it’s making in-roads into the consciences of thoughtful people.

    • January 12, 2019 8:28 pm


      While SK Levin is quite capable of responding personally – this is a person that has spent most of adult life severely critical of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and has shown a lifetime of courage in criticizing Israel for its mistreatment of the Palestinians.. does not “demur”…best, Rob

      • Gene Fitz permalink
        January 13, 2019 6:12 pm


        Thanks for the reply. Your positive assessment of Levin’s advocacy history convinces me that the conclusion I drew with respect to Levin’s anti-BDS stance was faulty and precipitously made from assumption based on too superficial a grasp of the actual facts. Zealotry can sure cloud cogitation.


  5. Rich Forer permalink
    January 13, 2019 5:44 am

    Superb letter, Rob. It is time these groups that hide behind “justice” as a pretense to de-legitimize real Justice be exposed for their narcissistic and fear-based tactics. Rich Forer


  1. In Solidary With Angela Davis – 2 – Statement of Rev. Larry Grimm, Guest Blogger | View from the Left Bank: Rob Prince's Blog

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