Michigan backtracks in anti-zionist book furore

September 21, 2007

The University of Michigan Press has resumed distribution of a British book that calls the creation of Israel a mistake and has prompted several pro Israel groups to denounce it as "hate speech".

Michigan stopped distribution of Pluto Press's Overcoming Zionism: Creating a Single Democratic State in Israel/ Palestine by US academic Joel Kovel last month following complaints that it was "racist" and "offensive". Its action prompted accusations of censorship.

A statement released by Michigan's executive board this week said that, while it had "deep reservations about Overcoming Zionism, it would be a blow against free speech to remove the book from distribution on that basis".

At the same time, the board tried to distance itself from the book and its publisher.

It said: "Had the manuscript gone through the standard review process used by the University of Michigan Press, the board would not have recommended publication. But the arrangement with Pluto Press is for distribution only. By resuming distribution, the board in no way endorses the content of the book."

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