University of Michigan Cuts Ties with Crackpot Press


[H/t Solomonia]

This is a bit dated (last month) from Inside HigherEd:

In September, the University of Michigan Press faced intense criticism from pro-Israel groups — and questions from some regents — over its distribution of a book called Overcoming Zionism, which argues that the creation of Israel was a mistake and urges adoption of the “one state” solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in which Israelis and Palestinians would form a new country, without a Jewish character. Michigan wasn’t the publisher, but it distributed the book under a deal with Pluto Press, a leftist British publisher with extensive lists on the Middle East and international affairs.

Some critics of the book demanded that Michigan stop distributing the book, which it briefly did, and cut ties to Pluto immediately. The university declined to do so, and resumed distributing the book, citing both contractual obligations to Pluto and concerns that halting distribution because of content would raise issues of academic freedom. By the end of this year, however, Michigan will no longer be distributing the book or have any ties to Pluto Press.

[read it all]

In the comments below one finds the following:

“Shame on zionists for seeking to suppress views they disagrees with. What next: book burnings? Shame on the University of Michigan Press for caving into this pressure.”

“This is a good example of how much muscle the Israeli Lobby has in the US. The U of Michigan should be ashamed to cave in to the unjustified bantering of the Israeli groups who seek to control American thought and policy.”

“What conspiracy? The right wing Zionist lobby targeted the University of Michigan and applied enough pressure to force them to sever ties to Pluto. No conspiracy — it’s a transparent fact, and a chilling one. Attention all university presses: if you publish or even distribute anything critical of Israel, you will be treated the same way.”

This was my favorite:

“No one should demand that outside groups meet the same academic standards as the university.”

Ivanhoe nails it:

“You guys are pathetic, just pathetic. If the U. Michigan had been discovered to be distributing, exclusively and without review, thirty or so right wing books that bashed the Palestinians, denied their claims to a state, attacked and mischaracterized Islam and talked about the great worldwide conspiracy of terrorists, every single one of you so called “free speech” advocates would have been marching in the street to kill it.

And what would your argument have been? That the books are political, non-academic and polemical, and occasionally racist. Or, put another way, exactly what Pluto Press books are.”

Other titles published by Pluto include:

Jewish History, Jewish Religion by Israel Shahak. Forewords by Gore Vidal, Edward Said, Norton Mezvinsky and Ilan Pappe.

Israel’s Vicious Circle by Uri Avnery

Israel and the Clash of Civilizations by Jeff Halper

You get the picture…

David Castle, Commissioning Editor, Pluto Press has this to say:

The reason that Kovel’s argument is so controversial is not for any scholarly reason – the reason is purely political. The pro-Israel lobby is an extremely powerful force in US politics – highly organised, very well funded, with influence in the heart of government – and through persuasion, chastisement and not a little bullying, the lobby has managed to establish in many people’s minds that criticism of Israel and Zionism is no less than anti-Semitism – that is to say, that criticism of the actions of a state and a political ideology is equivalent to an attack and denigration of a whole people…

In the face of the controversy surrounding Overcoming Zionism, a group of scholars, campaigners and lawyers have established the Committee for Open Discussion of Zionism, which aims to defend the principle of free speech on debate over Israel. The Committee asks for your support – you can find them at

You can email him at:

One response »

  1. Pingback: International Zionist Conspiracy Terminates Joel Kovel « The New Centrist

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