31 January 2015 – USACBI is pleased to join with a broad spectrum of progressive and anti-racist organizations, religious groups, faculty organizations, peace and justice activists, and people of conscience from all walks of life in condemning the AMCHA Initiative”s latest assault on academic freedom. AMCHA has written to Chancellor Blumenthal of UC Santa Cruz condemning the selection of Professor Angela Davis as speaker for the 31st Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Convocation, on account of her chosen topic, “Racism, Militarism, Poverty: From Ferguson to Palestine”. Once again, AMCHA and other Zionist groups that have co-signed the letter, opportunistically conflate criticism of the state of Israel and of the political ideology of Zionism with anti-Semitism in an attempt to shut down constitutionally protected political expression on campus and exposure to diverse perspectives on public issues of vital importance.
We can imagine no fitter speaker to commemorate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. than Angela Davis, a scholar and activist of unfailing integrity who has devoted her life to anti-racism and social justice. But it should be clear that the connections that are implicit in the title of her talk are neither arbitrary nor tendentious. They are connections that are forged every time US police departments get training from Israeli security forces, and deploy violent techniques learnt from Israel”s suppression of Palestinians against people of color on the streets of America. They are forged when the Department of Homeland Security contracts the Israeli security firm, Elbit Systems, to supply the surveillance equipment that will be used along the US-Mexican border as it is along the apartheid wall in Palestine. They are forged whenever the Israeli arms industry and its military supply and train the vicious dictatorships of Central America responsible for massive crimes against humanity that have driven so many to flee their country and migrate to the United States.
AMCHA”s attack on Professor Angela Davis is not only an attempt to suppress speech criticizing Israel for its ongoing occupation and dispossession of the Palestinian people. It is also an attack on all those who, since this summer”s police killings of Black men and Israel”s 2014 murderous assault on Gaza, have begun to understand these connections and to make a common cause in their resistance against racism and state-sponsored violence, in this country as in Palestine. Nothing is more threatening to those in power than the emergence of solidarity among those most targeted by this global network of state and military violence. In its assault on freedom of speech, and in its condemnation of this expression of solidarity among oppressed peoples of color, AMCHA is joined not only by the usual network of right-wing Zionist pressure groups but also by organizations like Accuracy in Academia and the David Horowitz Freedom Center, organizations that have a history of attempts to suppress affirmative action, multiculturalism and diversity on campus. These extremist Zionist groups finds their natural allies with the most conservative and repressive forces everywhere.
USACBI therefore condemns the AMCHA Initiative and its co-signatories and stands proudly in solidarity with Angela Davis and all those who, like her, have sought to join together in a common cause with the many organizations that continue to fight the ongoing struggle against racism, colonialism, militarism and dispossession, domestically and globally. Dr. King, whose final speeches affirmed the absolute necessity of connecting the fight for civil and economic rights domestically to the fight against militarism and imperialism globally, would have been proud to share the platform with her.