Monday, June 16, 2008

University of Michigan Dumps Pluto Press and Its Anti-Semitic List

Dearborn Underground has learned the University of Michigan Press Board sent a letter to Pluto Press last week informing them that the University Press will not be renewing its distribution contract with Pluto. Pluto Press is a British-based publisher of many anti-American, anti-Semitic, and anti-Israel books. After the contractually obligated six months notice period, UM Press will no longer be distributing Pluto Press books. The official announcement should be made this week at the U of M Board of Regents meeting.

This is a welcome outcome to efforts, led by the Michigan chapter of the pro-Israel group StandWithUs, to get the UM Press to re-think its contract to be exclusive American distributor of Pluto Press.

Last year, StandWithUs challenged UM Press’s decision to distribute John Kovel’s Overcoming Zionism. Kovel is a professor of social studies at Bard College, and, in Overcoming Zionism, he “advocates abolishing the State of Israel and replacing it with a single secular state with no ties to the Jewish people.” (“University of Michigan Distributes Anti-Zionist Book”).

Last August, UM Press director Phil Pochoda sent Kovel a private email blasting Overcoming Zionism as a “reckless, vicious, and unmodulated attack on Zionism and all Zionists.” But Pochoda was overruled by UM Press’s executive board.

According to StandWithUs's Jonathan Harris, “[f]ollowing the executive board’s review of the book on Sept. 7, the University released a statement expressing reservations about Kovel and Pluto, but reinstated the book for two reasons: ‘contract obligations’ and concern about violating ‘free speech.’”

This is not a freedom of the press issue, but an issue of whether or not the book-buying public, seeing the UM Press imprint on a book binding, can safely assume that the volume has gone through the customary peer review, and can rely on the factual allegations contained inside to meet a scholarly standard. As Jonathan Harris of StandWithUs-Michigan made clear last year in an article in The Detroit Jewish News,

StandWithUs unqualifiedly supports freedom of the press, and the ideologically driven Pluto Press certainly has the right to publish whatever it wishes, however reprehensible the works may seem to others. The question is not Pluto’s right to publish these views, but rather, whether it is right for UMP to distribute and, in effect, promote them. Whenever a publisher distributes books produced by other publishing houses, the inescapable conclusion is that they meet certain standards. When the publisher is a university press, readers are led to believe that an academic review has taken place, and that a high standard has been met. ("Overcoming Oversight").

Instead, the UM Press acknowledges that titles by Pluto Press are not peer reviewed. As reported last October by Campus Watch: “The university confirmed that Pluto Press distributes several hundred titles via UMP, none of which are reviewed, and this has been standard in their ‘four-year relationship.’” ("University of Michigan Distributes Anti-Zionist Book").


Anonymous said...

Excellent News! Thanks for the report.

Anonymous said...

I don't see how this is excellent news. This is catering to a group of people who see freedom of speech and press as a threat. No congrats to U of M for violating the First Amendment.

Anonymous said...

This was a mart decision by the U. Pluto was dragging it reputation into the dirt.

The anonymous jew hater above is all for the first amendment, except as it applies to the non-democratic Palestinian terrorists they love to support.

Anonymous said...

anonymous jew hater here as you like to refer to me as, anonymous assumer. UM has made a poor decision by appeasing to those who obviously have an interest in mind. If the university of michigan was to end a contract with a publishing company that published anti-palestinian books because a pro-palestinian group pushed for it, then I believe this article would have been much different. You see, it would have said that UM was violating the First Amendment and catering to Islam. DU's agenda follows an attitude polarization bias which many neocons tend to exude within their blogs. I cant wait until they receive a crushing blow this November.

"When one fights monsters, one must be careful so one does not become a monster as well. For if you gaze into an abyss long enough, the abyss will gaze into you."-Nietzche

BTW, I am not a jew hater, but a relaist who can see what is actually taking place.

Anonymous said...

A "Realist Jew Hater" is what we call a Nazi. The only reality is that you don't like Jews or America.

What would your response be if UM cut its distribution deal with a publisher of anti-Islam or anti-Palestinian books? You would be happy. So don't be sure a hypocrite.

Anonymous said...

your post is similar to a characterization that transcends McCarthyism into anti-Semitism. (if you're not with the jews, you're against them). however, that is not the case in my post because evidently you misunderstood it. my post alluded to this blog having an attitude polarization bias which is a belief/attitude expressing evidence selectively in favor of the character's view.

your attempt at stating that i would be happy if the school ceased to have a distribution deal with a publisher who published anti-islamic/palestinian has no bearing at the argument that is taking place. however, i am going to address your comment and say that I would not be happy because unlike neocons, I value the Constitution deeply and believe that the publishing company has every right to publish books against a religion, culture, country because they are viewpoints. A little advice, attacking someone does not make your argument any better because it just shows how ignorant you really are.

Anonymous said...

"I value the Constitution deeply and believe that the publishing company has every right to publish books against a religion, culture, country because they are viewpoints."

Way to confuse the facts. Pluto Press isn't being prevented from publishing its books. UM is just not going to DISTRIBUTE Pluto Press books now.

The Constitution hasn't been violated you dolt.

Anonymous said...

this was my first post:

"I don't see how this is excellent news. This is catering to a group of people who see freedom of speech and press as a threat. No congrats to U of M for violating the First Amendment."

An argument can be made that the U of M is violating the Amendment because the school wants to silence thought a group of people do not agree with. It is not ok for a public school that is supposed to encourage freedom of expression and thought to suppress possible truths by eliminating the resources from its shelves because a minority of students disagree with them.

The other posts were in response to the individual targeting my comments as anti-semitic.

T.R. Clancy said...

Anonymous Nietzche Quoter

I don't know whether or not I have an agenda that follows an attitude polarization bias or not, because I don't know what that even means.

But I would NOT accuse the UM Press of violating the First Amendment if they refused to publish anti-palestinian books because a pro-palestinian group pushed for it, as you suggest. In fact, I'm willing to bet they have done just that at some point. I might not like it, and I do see lots of that sort of thing going on.

But it's not a First Amendment issue. It would have nothing to do with Congress making a law abridging Freedom of the Press. Publishers are free to publish or not publish, without regard for the First Am., as long as it isn't the government STOPPING them from doing so.

In this case, UM Press was embarrassed into doing the right thing after being exposed distributing non-peer reviewed, non-scholarly, anti-Semitic hate materials under a university imprint.

Anonymous said...

" U of M for violating the First Amendment."

I hate to interject here... but this commenter's ignorance of the 1st amendment is appalling. Assuming you are a U.S. citizen, you need to know and UNDERSTAND your rights.

To put as simply as possible: Refusing to purchase something does not suppress anyone's free speech. If that were the case, we would all be guilty, because we could not possibly afford to buy every book in print.

Put another way: You have the right (U.S. citizens) to print anything you want. You do not have the right to force anyone to purchase it and distribute it for you. See the difference?

JesusOverIsrael said...

this is what i commented at the site:


Ivanhoe writes:

This was a clear example of taxpayers in a democracy saying “we do not want to subsidize one side of a political debate” and taking action to stop it. Nothing more and nothing less.

why is presenting alternative views always called "one side of a political debate"?

how many times do we in this country get bombarded with the pro-zionist slant? AIPAC shoving its hostile propaganda down our throats is fair game, but opposing this policy of turning washington dc into zionist occupied territory is one sided?

Jews need to suppress disent simply because they are afraid to argue the merits. they resort to verbal abuse and intimidation, tools of cowards.

but thanks to the internet, John Q Public is waking up to their deceit and weakness:

Anonymous said...

First to the guy who thinks U of M should publish the book because of the 1st ammendment, go back to school. The 1st ammendment applies strictly to free speech when it comes to the government. Private entities can limit free speech and that sir, is factual. Second, a university that is interested in promoting and including multiple beliefs within its organization, should limit political siding as was the case with this book. By distributing this one sided book under their publishing title, it led to the belief that they sided with the political views of this author. And last, you are not much of a realist if you in any way think what is going on over there is solely or mainly the fault of Isreal. I have been there, seen the missles, and until you have personal knowledge and experience with who and what is causing the problems over there, you are simply a person who regurgitates rhetoric given to you by someone else who fits your political views. said...

Israel Has A Right To Survive