The positive response to this event has been overwhelming — and for good reason. From beginning to end, the speakers electrified and inspired the capacity crowd with their impassioned defense of Palestinian rights. No wonder there was such a frantic right-wing effort to shut this event down.”
FUNDING PROVIDED BY THE WALLACE ACTION FUND AND THE MARTIN BROD FUND
Roger Waters is an English rock musician, singer-songwriter, and composer best known for his work with the legendary rock band Pink Floyd. Over the last few years, he has emerged as one of the world’s most prominent advocates for Palestinian human rights and a cultural boycott of Israel.
Linda Sarsour is a Palestinian-American political activist and co-founder of MPower Change, the largest Muslim-led social and racial justice organization in the nation. She is also co-chair of the Women’s March.
Marc Lamont Hill is a professor and public intellectual well-known for his work on television as a political analyst. He is a correspondent for BET News, and was recently fired by CNN for comments he made about Israel’s occupation of Palestine.
Dave Zirin is the sports editor of The Nation, appears regularly on MSNBC and ESPN, and is the author of 10 books on the politics of sports. He was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for his book The John Carlos Story: The Sports Moment that Changed the World.
Vijay Prashad is a journalist and historian who appears regularly on Democracy Now! and the Real News Network. He is also the author or editor of over 30 books, including Letters to Palestine: Writers Respond to War and Occupation.
“Not Backing Down” opened with a series of short speeches from the organizers and each of the panelists. Click on the videos below to view these opening remarks.
Sut Jhally, the Executive Director of the Media Education Foundation (MEF), introduces the event and breaks down the organized effort by right-wing groups to shut it down, including a lawsuit that was eventually thrown out of court. He concludes by introducing a clip from the acclaimed documentary The Occupation of the American Mind: Israel’s Public Relations War in the U.S.
Historian, author, and activist Vijay Prashad, the panel moderator, describes the situation on the ground in Gaza and the West Bank and talks about the hostile political climate in the U.S. for critics of Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land.
Dave Zirin, the sports editor of The Nation magazine, blasts attempts by right-wing groups to label progressives who speak up for Palestinian rights as “anti-Semitic” or “self-hating Jews,” and makes a powerful case for solidarity with the Palestinian people.
Linda Sarsour, the renowned Palestinian-American political activist, argues that the increasingly aggressive effort by right-wing groups to silence and smear pro-Palestinian voices is a sign that the pro-Palestinian movement is having an impact and making a difference.
Professor and political commentator Marc Lamont Hill talks about being fired by CNN for comments he made in defense of Palestinian human rights and makes an impassioned case for seeing the fight for Palestinian rights through the lens of the civil rights movement in the U.S.
International media coverage of the controversy surrounding “Not Backing Down: Israel, Free Speech & the Battle for Palestinian Rights.”
“Not Backing Down: Israel, Free Speech & the Battle for Palestinian Rights,” a panel discussion on the increasingly vitriolic backlash against pro-Palestinian voices, was held at the UMass-Amherst Fine Arts Center on May 4 in front of a capacity crowd despite a fierce attempt by pro-Israel pressure groups to brand the event as anti-Semitic and shut it down.
The panel addressed mounting right-wing efforts to silence and smear Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and other pro-Palestinian voices who have spoken out against Israel’s illegal military occupation of Palestinian land and called out the influence of the pro-Israel lobby.
Panelists included: legendary rocker Roger Waters of Pink Floyd fame, who has been repeatedly vilified as an “anti-Semite” for his criticisms of Israel’s human rights abuses and his calls for a cultural boycott of Israel; Palestinian-American political activist Linda Sarsour, who was recently targeted by a private Israeli intelligence firm as part of a coordinated U.S. campaign to prevent her from speaking out against Israeli policies on American college campuses; Marc Lamont Hill, a professor and political commentator who was fired earlier this year by CNN for remarks he made in support of Palestinian rights; and Nation magazine sports editor and author Dave Zirin, a frequent contributor to MSNBC and ESPN who has been called a “self-hating Jew” for his criticisms of Israeli human rights abuses.
The panel was introduced by UMass professor Sut Jhally, the Executive Director of the Media Education Foundation in Northampton, MA, which organized the event. It was moderated by Vijay Prashad, a journalist and historian who appears regularly on Democracy Now! and is the author or editor of over 30 books, including Letters to Palestine: Writers Respond to War and Occupation.EVENT POSTER