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March 17, 2008

Massachusetts Global Action organized encuentro 5 (e5) as a space for the free exchange of ideas; we believe that this is a precondition for movement building and social change. To this end, we have hosted organizations to discuss issues and matters on a wide range of topics. As an organization concerned about the welfare of working people, we believe that this open discussion is both a right and a necessity.

That right was denied to us on Friday, March 7, 2008, when our landlords at the request of the Jewish Labor Committee (JLC) closed the building to an April conference. It was alleged that the conference sponsors—the New England Committee to Defend Palestine (NECDP)—constituted a hate group. We countered that instead NECDP advocates for the rights of the Palestinian people, and that, like all other groups hosting events at e5, the conference organizers had read the following statements on our webpage, "Who can use e5?":

  • e5 welcomes organizations and individuals from a wide range of progressive viewpoints that reject militarism and neoliberalism

  • e5 welcomes organizations and individuals challenging domination and exploitation

  • e5 does not welcome individuals and organizations that practice violence in any form

NECDP's representative confirmed via e-mail that she had read our form and guidelines when she made the reservation in January.

To honor our commitment to host the conference, over the next week, we did two things (1) worked with community and labor activists in an attempt to reverse the decision of the building owners and the Jewish Labor Committee; (2) offered to help the organizers find an equivalent venue paid by encuentro 5 (up to $400) for the same dates and times to ensure the event could be held.

Both efforts failed: (1) the building owners and the JLC refused to re-open the space and (2) NECDP rejected our offer to find and fund another venue. After meeting with NECDP on Friday evening, March 14, 2008, we drafted a public statement outlining the facts and told NECDP that we would release it on Monday, March 17, 2008, after our last attempt to convince the building owners to open the space to the conference. On Sunday, March 16, 2008, we received NECDP's public statement via an e-mail list.

Needless to say, our commitment to host the April conference is but one of many obligations encuentro 5 has to progressive campaigns and projects. e5 is a space for organizing human rights, antiwar, migrant worker, solidarity, woman's, labor, youth, community, and cultural activities. Each of these have been compromised by the actions of those who reject free speech and now imply that all other e5 activities must pass a litmus test administered by others.

The promise and the dream that is e5 has been deferred!

An apology is due to both the e5 community and NECDP. We therefore call on all those who support the free exchange of ideas to stand with Mass Global Action and sign onto our forthcoming Open Letter.

What other parties have said:

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.

MassGlobalAction • 33 Harrison Ave. 5th Floor, Boston, MA 02111 • (t) 617-482-6300 (f) 617-482-7300