Birmingham institute cancels human rights award for Angela Davis over her Palestine activism

https://bit.ly/2RAAuV2

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The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute canceled its prestigious human rights award for Angela Davis following outcry from “concerned individuals and organizations.” Davis, the Black revolutionary feminist icon, grew up in Birmingham under the Jim Crow apartheid regime.

“Upon closer examination of Ms. Davis’ statements and public record, we concluded that she unfortunately does not meet all of the criteria on which the award is based,” the institute wrote in a statement on Sunday.

While the institute has not provided specifics on the concerns or their award criteria, it is clear that Davis’s support for Palestine is one of the main reasons for the reversal.

A statement from Birmingham’s mayor revealed that these concerned individuals were from the “local Jewish community and some of its allies.”

The only public objections to Davis’s award is a December 2018 article from Southern Jewish Life:

“Her 2015 book was entitled “Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement,” and she frequently compares Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to police shootings of African-Americans. She has also said Israel gets its tear gas to use against Palestinians from the same company that supplies the police force in Ferguson.

There is a national effort among advocates for the Palestinians to get police departments to refuse joint training with Israeli police on best practices for fighting terrorism and enhancing emergency response.

She also connects Israel with one of her primary causes, the abolition of the prison system in the U.S., which she calls the “prison-industrial complex.” Palestine under Israeli occupation is “the worst possible example of a carceral society” as the world’s “largest open air prison,” she has stated.

Davis compares Israel to apartheid South Africa, but has stated that Israel is worse in its treatment of Palestinians. She refers to the security barrier Israel erected following a long series of deadly suicide bombings by Palestinians in Israel in the early 2000s as an “apartheid wall.”

Davis has called for “political prisoner” Marwan Barghouti to be released from jail. A leader of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, Barghouti is serving five life terms for participation in murders of Israelis. A leader of the First and Second Intifadas, in 2014 he called for an end to Palestinian security cooperation with Israel and advocated a Third Intifada.

Davis also was a supporter of Rasmea Odeh, who was convicted of a 1969 bombing in a Jerusalem grocery store, killing two students. A member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Odeh was deported from the U.S. for immigration fraud, lying about her terror ties and not disclosing her terrorism conviction. Davis spoke at Odeh’s farewell celebration in Chicago in 2017.”

Attempts to frame Rasmea Odeh as a “terrorist” fall into the attempts to criminalize Assata Shakur, Mumia Abu-Jamal, the Black Panther Party and Davis herself in the same light. 

The cancelation comes roughly a month after Marc Lamont Hill was fired from CNN for speaking up about Palestine at the UN.

CNN and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute each claim to care about civil rights and human rights until it comes to the application of those rights for Palestinians.

The Israel lobby is increasingly isolating itself by attacking revered Black activists for speaking up about Palestine. 

​As backlash like this continues, more and more people will understand that Palestine is a human rights issue that must be included in the global call for freedom, justice, and liberation.

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Available at Haymarket Books
Read more about Rasmea Odeh’s activism, forced confession and Angela Davis’s support for her at Ebony. 

You can also read our statements of support for Marc Lamont Hill and Rasmea.

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