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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Extreme Censorship: U of M Severs Distribution Agreement With Pluto Press

A few months ago, a dear friend passed away, someone who had become my mentor in helping me to learn more about the Middle East, particularly Palestine although she knew about the entire Middle East and was always more than eager to share that information with anyone who wanted to know more. Florence Richards was a retired college professor, a former Republican activist, who twenty years ago picked up a book out of curiosity to read, Paul Findley's book, "They Dare to Speak Out". She kept reading.

Florence was a vociferous reader and book collector. When she passed away she left behind over three thousand books. When it came to Israel/Palestine, she bought every book ever published, on both sides of the argument because as a scholar she knew, in order to be educated, one must be open to reading all there is on a subject, research, cross research, draw conclusion.

Florence knew that there were books on Palestine that were not published or sold freely here in the US, so she also made it her mission to acquire those books. She would always tell me, "Robin, you don't know how these Zionists work. They'll do everything they can to stop the distribution of books which uncover them. In Europe that's not the case, so whenever I find out a book isn't published here, THAT'S the one I am particularly interested in"

My dear friend Florence is more than likely rolling over in her grave as I type here. Today it became widely written that the University of Michigan Press has severed it's distribution agreement with Pluto Press of London.

What sparked the campaign against Pluto? The book "Overcoming Zionism" by Bard professor Joe Kovell. The Zionist push started last September and although the book was removed for a while, it was placed back. The powers that be ever on the mission to accomplish their work, pushed for an all out severing of ties with Pluto Press.

All over one book, or at least that seems to be the straw that broke the camel's back, because numerous critics of Israel publish there, Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, Jeff Halper, Uri Avnery, Jonathan Cook, Ghada Kharmi and many others. ( list of Middle East writers published at Pluto)

The Middle East is not the only subject matter published at Pluto however. They are a self-proclaimed "radical thought" publishing house publishing writers world wide who have either been unable to publish in their home countries or who have chosen Pluto for it's long-standing reputation. (check their website below to get the list of all those they publish)

Now those writers also will not be distributed through the University of Michigan Press.

I will return to my thoughts of my dear mentor and friend Florence. "They will stop at nothing to achieve their goal of silencing all criticism against them"

Pluto Press now must find another partner in the US to distribute their books before December when the contract officially ends and will not be renewed.

"This is what they do best, silence" Florence would say.

In the university where free speech and disemination of different opinions is tantamount to education.

And with that, they have also silenced those others around the world who found their refuge in Pluto Press to publish their cries.

Pluto Press Website

Read HERE for the article concerning this matter.

Added Note: When Florence passed away, it was sudden, very shortly after the very unexpected death of her own son (three weeks prior). She had not left a will concerning her books, but had told another dear friend and myself that she wanted all her books on the Middle East-political and historical (she had many on European history concerning the rise of Zionism) to be donated to a library. Upon her death her family was contacted and asked if we could come and make a list of 50 books that were rare, because we knew she had them, to donate to UCLA who was going to accept the entire donation IF it was worthy (books they didn't have-rare). We were not allowed to do that by the family unfortunately. They instead called a used book store to sell the books but told us they would choose the books we could have for the donation. We were then called to pick them up. The books which were left to donate were NOT rare books of the kind that UCLA would accept, those obviously went to the used book store. There were however almost 200 books, journals and complete back copies all the way to the first publication of WRMEA.

The collection was donated to Al-Awda, which would have made Florence sing with happiness to have been able to have her books go there. Indeed, I think personally it was meant to be that they go to Al-Awda. Their library hasn't opened in Carlsbad yet, but when it does, Florence's books which had been referred to over and over again in her many calls and letters in support of the Palestinian people will be there with a stamp in them denoting they were donated by her, Palestine's DEAREST friend, who "Dared to Speak Out". (article written in WRMEA by Pat McDonnel Twair, Florence's dear friend for twenty years, in honor of Florence who wrote several book reviews as well as "other people's mail" for WRMEA over the years)

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