Setting The Record Straight

Campus Watch corrects false allegations made against it.

Response to:

Committee for Open Discussion of Zionism [solicitation letter]
by Howard Zinn
Committee for Open Discussion of Zionism
October 8, 2007

Misc. Corrections

Campus Watch Responds:

[Ed: The following entry was reposted from the Campus Watch blog post, "Howard Zinn Gets Campus Watch Wrong in Plugging Pluto Press and Joel Kovel's 'Overcoming Zionism'"]

Howard Zinn, the radical historian who wrote that "objectivity is impossible, and it is also undesirable," remained true to his word when he claimed recently that the organization StandWithUs is "an offshoot of Campus Watch."

The objective truth is that StandWithUs has no relation whatsoever to Campus Watch--a empirical fact Zinn might easily have discovered had he examined the web sites of either nonprofit.

Zinn's exact words are:

As you may have heard, in late August of this year, The University of Michigan Press, after receiving a series of complaining and threatening emails and letters from an ultra-Zionist group called StandWithUs, an offshoot of Campus Watch [emphasis added], withdrew from distribution Prof. Joel Kovel's book Overcoming Zionism, published by Pluto Press in London, United Kingdom.

His erroneous charge appears in a "solicitation" letter for the group "Committee for an Open Discussion of Zionism," which is campaigning for UMP to remain the American distributor of Pluto Press in the face of ongoing criticism that a university press has no business distributing radical works such as those published by Pluto. UMP agreed to distribute Kovel's work after initially pulling it, but said it would reconsider its relationship with Pluto--hence the campaign.

Kovel's book advocates "abolishing the state of Israel and replacing it with a single, secular state that has no ties to the Jewish people," according to press reports.

Zinn also charges that that there is a "troubling practice in the United States of suppressing alternative views on Israel/Palestine and Zionism...."

This is a refrain we hear often from the academic left (Zinn is professor emeritus at Boston University). It is a cultivated habit among such Marxists to see suppression whenever their views are rejected or defeated. In the case of Pluto Press, its titles are so overtly politicized and tendentious that administrators at Michigan were embarrassed into action when word that UM Press distributed Pluto's works in North America was reported to a broad audience.

Pluto's own web site states:

Pluto Press has always had a radical political agenda [emphasis added]. Founded in 1969 as a publishing arm of International Socialism, the forerunner of the Socialist Workers Party in the UK, in 1979 we broke with this political affiliation and became truly independent. Today, we represent authors from a wide range of progressive political viewpoints. With over 550 titles in print, Pluto Press is one of the world's leading radical book publishers.

Stephen Schwartz, a leading historian of Communism and Islamist ideology, tells me that Pluto was "founded by a Palestinian Jew from a Zionist pioneer background named Ygael Gluckstein, who renamed himself Tony Cliff," and that it has "never been anything but an ideological enterprise."

Should a major American university press distribute books published by an outfit with a stated "political agenda," whatever the politics? Clearly not: the mission of university presses is the dissemination of rigorously researched academic works that eschew agendas in the search for truth.

Yet as Zinn's own sloppy research and erroneous charges about Campus Watch show, rigor matters little to that segment of academe for whom agenda is preeminent. Even those who deny objectivity can be brought down by the truth.

(Posted by Winfield Myers)