Unique distribution arrangement of Pluto Press and the University of Michigan to be challenged
"The problem with the Jewish State is that it is a Jewish State." - Joel Kovel, "Overcoming Zionism", 2007.
This week, representatives from StandWithUs-Michigan, Bnai Brith, ZOA and the Anti-Defamation League will address the University of Michigan's Board of Regents criticizing the relationship between Pluto Press of the UK, and the University of Michigan Press (UMP) and the recent irresponsible decision of the UMP faculty led executive board to renew the contract.
Due to the nature of Pluto Press's radical agenda, the University of Michigan is today the sole distributor of many of the worst anti-Israel and anti-Semitic propaganda titles available in America today.
UMP had reviewed its relationship with Pluto after StandWithUs-Michigan and others drew attention to Pluto's Overcoming Zionism by Joel Kovel which verges frequently into anti-Semitic propaganda, and to the anti-Semitic works of the late Israel Shahak. Both are staples of Pluto's offerings on the Middle East.
Pluto Press is the only publisher with which UMP has a distribution agreement, along with an understanding that UMP does not vet the works that Pluto submits and adds them, without review, to its distribution lists. In contrast to other scholarly entities distributed by UMP, Pluto Press is an independent political publisher with an explicit ideological agenda, describing itself as "one of the world's leading radical book publishers."
The UMP executive board justified its decision as a defense of freedom of speech, but free speech is not at issue. It is not a requirement of free speech for UMP to promote and distribute Pluto books when they have no scholarly merit and do not meet UMP's standards and mission.
UMP then claimed that the agreement with Pluto was "undertaken strictly as [a] business relationship." According to the Michigan Daily, the University's press earns approximately $1 million dollars per year selling Pluto books, making up 16% of their annual returns.
Pluto Press does not represent differing views. Not one of the books published by Pluto Press presents a scholarly or sympathetic view of Israel, Zionism, Jews, or Judaism. UMP's entire Pluto catalog offers only one political framework which is dogmatically anti-Israel, and frequently anti-Semitic.
StandWithUs-Michigan and other concerned citizens will take this issue before the Board of Regents on Thursday, November 15. We encourage all those willing to confront anti-Semitic and anti-Israel polemical texts being distributed by our public universities to join us at 3:00 PM in the Founder's Room in the Alumni Center, 200 Fletcher Street, on the Ann Arbor Campus.
You can also voice your concerns with University President Mary Sue Coleman at:
University of Michigan, Office of the President,
503 Thompson Street
2074 Fleming Administration Building,
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1340
Phone: (734) 764-6270
Fax: (734) 936-3529
Email: presoff @umich.edu
Source: SWU/MI Newsletter