Saturday, May 4, 2019 at 6:30 PM
Fine Arts Center,
University of Massachusetts-Amherst

“Not Backing Down: Israel, Free Speech & the Battle for Palestinian Rights” will address recent attacks on Rep. Ilhan Omar and other progressives who have spoken out against Israel’s 50-year military occupation of Palestinian land and pushed back against the claim that criticizing Israeli government policies is “anti-Semitic.” The panel will feature prominent activists and journalists who have themselves been attacked, smeared, and branded “anti-Semitic” for speaking up on behalf of Palestinian rights.
Panelists include: Legendary rocker Roger Waters of Pink Floyd fame, who has been repeatedly vilified as an “anti-Semite” for his outspoken criticism of the occupation and his staunch support of a cultural boycott of Israel; Palestinian-American political activist Linda Sarsour, the co-founder of MPower Change and co-chair of the Women’s March, who was recently targeted by a private Israeli intelligence firm as part of a coordinated, U.S.-based campaign to stop her from speaking out against Israeli policies on American college campuses; Marc Lamont Hill, a professor and political commentator who has visited the occupied territories with Black Lives Matter and was fired last 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, his outspoken defense of Ilhan Omar, and his support for NFL players who refused to go on a promotional trip to Israel funded by the Israeli government.
“The vicious smears these four people have been subjected to are part of a systematic effort to change the subject and deflect attention away from the billions of dollars in financial and military aid the U.S. continues to give Israel despite its ongoing violations of international law and Palestinian human rights,” said Sut Jhally, a UMass professor and the Executive Director of the Media Education Foundation, which is organizing the event. “The good news is that more and more people – Palestinians, African-Americans, young progressive Jews and Christians alike – are staring down these intimidation tactics, refusing to be silenced, and speaking up for Palestinian human rights regardless of the consequences. This panel is clear evidence of that.”
The panel will be moderated by Vijay Prashad, a journalist and historian who appears regularly on Democracy Now! and the Real News Network and is the author or editor of over 30 books, including Letters to Palestine: Writers Respond to War and Occupation.


You can no longer reserve tickets in advance, but hundreds of tickets will be available at the door starting at 6:15 the night of the event. We recommend arriving early to guarantee a seat.

Reserved ticket holders may pick up tickets this week at the FAC box office during regular business hours or at the Will Call window the evening of the event.

Doors will open at 5:30 for reserved ticket holders. To guarantee admittance, reserved ticket holders must arrive no later than 6:15. After that, all unclaimed reserved tickets will be released to those without reserved tickets.