A version of this statement was e-mailed to signatories of the statement on 19 July 2015.
If you are reading this, it means you joined former UN special rapporteur on Occupied Palestine Richard Falk; Holocaust survivor and peace activist Hedy Epstein; founding member of the Board of Trustees of Birzeit University Samia Khoury; Palestine-based director George Rishimawi; peace activists Cindy Sheehan and Arun Gandhi; former senator and founder of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee James Abourezk; former US government officials-turned-peace-activists Ray McGovern, Edward Peck, Philip Giraldi, and Ann Wright; and over 1200 others in defending Alison Weir and If Americans Knew from the vitriolic attacks on that organization by the national leadership of US Campaign and Jewish Voice for Peace.
But like them, you were ignored.
Earlier today, the US Campaign released a statement officially expelling If Americans Knew and Alison Weir from their non-profit coalition.
In doing so, they ignored over one thousand dedicated activists and human rights defenders like you, including many members of their coalition, who signed our Open Letter within 48 hours.
They ignored at least 15 activist leaders who risked their lives to break the siege of Gaza by boat.
They ignored at least 83 members of Jewish Voice for Peace from around the country, the organization whose national leadership originally released a statement attacking Alison Weir without the approval or consensus of their membership
They ignored several hundred members of several dozen US Campaign member organizations.
The statement by the US Campaign repeated some of the same accusations that have been addressed meticulously before, with little new material. The only new item is yet another guilt-by-association argument, targeting Alison Weir for re-posting a lengthy piece — without endorsing it — by Roger Tucker on her blog. While the piece is undeniably controversial, it hardly suggests that Alison Weir seeks to “blame Jewish people for any bigotry they might face” as the US Campaign suggests.
It is worth noting that the same accusation was recently leveled against Yale University chaplain Bruce Shipman, for suggesting that Israeli actions could have prompted a spike in anti-Semitism, and even against renowned German-Jewish philosopher Hannah Arendt, for discussing what she called “Jewish responsibility” for the rise in anti-Semitism during the interwar period.
If you are like the rest of us who have come together to defend If Americans Knew, you probably do not agree with everything Alison Weir or IAK has ever said — and certainly not everything said by those with attenuated associations with her. You probably do, however, agree with her opposition to bigotry and believe that everyone should treated with respect, and with the statement on her website:
You probably also agree that there is something deeply wrong with an organization that is willing to engage in extensive witch-hunts and excommunication campaigns based on combing through extensive writings and advocacy over two decades to find instances of speech that could be perceived as anti-Jewish.
You may feel that such a tactic is excessive, especially given the blatant failures of the American movement for solidarity with Palestine to take more militant stances with regards to the oppression of Palestinians, let alone other oppressed groups.
You might dislike that the Campaign seems intent on expunging Alison Weir from public awareness, just as opponents worked to disappear Dorothy Thompson, Grace Halsell, Donald Neff,Helen Thomas, and other journalists who revealed too many truths.
You might also wonder what sorts of things might be found if someone were to apply the same sort of McCarthyistic tactics to those who are currently leveling such harsh charges.
But whatever your views are, it is clear that the US Campaign ignored you along with hundreds of others, including those who are leading the movement for solidarity with Palestine.
Defend your voice. Act Now.
Already, some organizations in the US Campaign are considering measures to end their affiliation with the Campaign and pulling their membership funds. While we cannot tell you how to deal with this situation, we suggest the following possible responses to the US Campaign’s unfair and undemocratic decision:
1) Let the US Campaign Steering Committee know that their decision was unfair and did not represent you. You can e-mail the US Campaign here.
A sample message might state,
“Dear U.S. Campaign Steering Committee,
Your expulsion of Alison Weir and If Americans Knew did not represent my views or input. I call on you to reverse your decision and consider that it was not representative of the views of this movement. Thank you.”
2) Post your objection to the Campaign listserve in your region.
3) Forward this e-mail to all of your lists.
4) Propose leaving the US Campaign to others in your USCEIO-affiliated organization. You can cancel your membership in the US Campaign by firstname.lastname@example.org.
5) Cancel your membership fee. (Since only a tiny number of organizations seem to have paid this, this option probably only applies to handful of you.)
6) Stay in the Campaign and work for a more representative, democratic and focused organization, while demanding that your membership fee not be used for witch hunts.
A US Campaign that does not, in fact, represent the campaign for Palestinian liberation in the US is an undemocratic and unaccountable one.