We, UMass Amherst Students for Justice in Palestine, are urgently contacting you for support, because of the extreme backlash both in number and nature regarding the upcoming panel event on May 4 titled, “Not Backing Down: Israel, Free Speech, and the Battle for Palestinian Rights.” This past week, 80 nationwide organizations wrote to UMass Chancellor Subbaswamy ordering the university to rescind all support and sponsorship of the event.. They stated that this event violates the university’s academic mission and will encourage violence on campus.
On the evening of April 23rd, tickets for the event online were reserved in bulk in an attempt to protest the event and ensure others genuinely interested in the panelists’ messages are unable to attend. We have also received information about individuals preparing to disrupt the event, although we hope this is not true.
Once again, we urge those in support of this event and free speech to share this message widely. Hundreds of tickets will be available at the door at 6:15 pm on evening of the event and unclaimed tickets on the day of the event will be available to students as well. We suggest you come even earlier if you are able. In the face of this intimidation, we hope you come out in support early and wait for your tickets at the door.
Our panelists, Linda Sarsour, Roger Waters, David Zirin and Marc Lamont Hill and moderator, Vijay Prashad are steadfast in their beliefs and refuse to be intimidated and silenced. We stand with them. We urge you to show your support as our University faces severe pressure against this event.