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This page is provided to present alternative perspectives on our petition drive. It will be updated regularly.

Critiques of the Petition Drive

1. "One wrong on top of another"

We received the following message via an e-mail list on 4/15/08. We have removed the sender's name but will provide it should he wish for us to add it.

This petition to support Encuentro piles one wrong on top of another. Encuentro failed to support the New England Committee to Defend Palestine when the Jewish Labor Committee said NECDP could not use Encuentro's space for its conference. Now Encuentro is responding to the publicity that resulted from that failure to, of all things, mount a campaign for support in the Boston activist community.

I haven't heard of any other group being refused free speech at this space since NECDP. Nor have I heard that anything has been done to take away the Jewish Labor Committee's power to dictate what can and can't be said at Encuentro. It was NECDP that was attacked, not Encuentro. This petition not only gives Encuentro a pass, but attempts to capitalize on the whole disgrace!

Our statement  "Free Speech Denied!" addresses all these points already.

2. "Reservations"

This a letter we received on 4/15/08:

I did sign onto the petition, but I now have reservations about it. It has come to my attention that Encuentro may not have done all it could to defend the rights of NECDP. Until I learn more about the situation, I request that my name be removed from the petition. Please confirm.

Our statement  "Free Speech Denied!" details the steps that we took.

3. "Liberal imperialists"

We received the following message via an e-mail list on 4/13/08. We have removed the sender's name but will provide it should he wish for us to add it.

I'm not a member of NECDP so these opinions are from me not from them.

Encuentro 5 does some good work. But they do a lot of liberal NGO work that avoids controversy or radicalism. As far as I know Encuentro 5, Mass Global Action and Stop the Wars Coalition have no formal position on Palestine. Why is this?

What are the actual conditions of the lease? Does the lease really say that the building owners have a line item veto on specific events in the space? If Noam Chomsky et al could get involved to sign a petition in support of E5, then why couldn't he/they call UNITE and tell them that zionism is racism and that anti-zionists need to be allowed free speech in Encuentro 5? I don't have Chomsky's email address or I would cc him.

I am not criticizing every person and group involved with E5. There are a lot of good people involved. For example, I support Hugo Chavez' revolution in Venezuela and MLK Bolivarian Circle for representing it here.

But free speech and radical activism (including anti-zionist and anti-imperialist activism) are severely curtailed at Encuentro 5, as in most places in the so-called "USA", both because there is no economic independence from the money of the powers-that-be and because there is some zionist sympathy and liberal-imperialist and anti-Muslim sentiment among some people involved with E5. This racism (that exists to some extent in all of our minds) prevents E5 from doing the difficult work involved in taking a stand against Zionism. It is easier to blame the landlords and throw your hands in the air.

Hosting an event by Jewish Voice for Peace or some other left-zionist group would not make up for having failed to stand up to keep an anti-zionist event in the building or for failing to have an anti-zionist position on Palestine.

Please see http://www.encuentro5.org/about.htm for more information about the encuentro 5 project.

4. Not a bandwagon I wish to climb on board

This critique suggests that MGA has applied its standards with respect to non-violence too indiscriminately.

I had never heard of the "New England Committee to Defend Palestine (NECDP)", so I went to their website. I found that they oppose "the existence of the colonial-settler state of 'Israel'" and they oppose "all forms of normalization with 'Israel' ", apparently without nuance or room for compromise. I found that the flyer for the event you were to host prominently featured an image of an Arab youth (with a globe for a head), holding a stone-throwing sling. I found a photograph of a (presumably) Arab young man with a rocket launcher slung across his back, serenely looking out over the hills of what I take to be Israel/Palestine. I found praise for the Gaza resistance which has "has reconnected itself with other parts of Palestine through launching missiles on Zionist colonies" (emphasis added). I found an article entitled "Confessions of a human bomb from Palestine".

It seems to me that accepting a mere positive statement from a group that they have read your rules is a very low standard to set in determining if a group, especially one active in such a volatile area, supports or eschews violence. I deplore the civil rights record of the State of Israel, I weep for the condition of the Palestinian people, and I believe that racism and theocracy (both of which I deplore) are intimately wrapped up in the whole history and genesis of Israel. As a person who values truth perhaps above all else, I understand the critical importance of free speech in our struggles, personal and social, to achieve a true and honest understanding of the world (which is the only sound basis for action). But there are exceptions to how far we must go to actively support the speech of others. Even your own organization's principles would deny a forum to those who promote violence. Based on a cursory review of NECDP's website, they do espouse violence, or at least tend to glorify the violent.

In short, I do not think this particular bandwagon is one I wish to climb on board.

Please review e5's programming to consider our standards and community of organizations.

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Massachusetts Global Action does not assume responsibility for these external links. It goes without saying that our account and experience varies significantly from those offered below. The links reflect organizations and/or individuals who have made statements about the censorship.

 

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