US Activist Angela Davis Denied Award Due to Support for BDS

Prominent US civil rights activist Angela Davis. (Photo: FIle)

A prominent US civil rights activist has been denied a prestigious award apparently after the Jewish-American community protested against her support for the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign (BDS).

Angela Davis, 74, has spent decades fighting for civil rights in the US and had been due to receive an award from the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI) in the southern state of Alabama. However, the institute announced this weekend that it would no longer present Davis with the award, saying in a statement that,

“Upon closer examination of Ms. Davis’s statements and public record, we concluded that she, unfortunately, does not meet all of the criteria on which the award is based.”

It appears that the “statements and public records” to which the BCRI referred were Davis’s vocal support of BDS and her advocacy for Palestinian rights, against which members of the Jewish-American community seemingly issued a complaint.

BCRI said in its statement that,

“Supporters and other concerned individuals and organizations, both inside and outside of our local community, began to make requests that we reconsider our decision.”

Although the institute did not name the Jewish-American community specifically, Birmingham mayor Randall Woodfin said that he was “dismayed” by the decision which, he added, followed “protests from our local Jewish community and some of its allies,” Haaretz reported.

Other sources have also claimed that the Jewish-American community was behind the pressure on the institute, though the exact details of the connection remain unclear.

The incident will be seen as the latest evidence of a widespread campaign by the Jewish-American community and the US more generally to crack down on and even criminalize the BDS movement.

In December, a primary school teacher in Texas was fired for refusing to sign an anti-BDS oath embedded in her employment contract. A language specialist who worked with autistic and speech-impaired primary school children, Bahia Amawi was told that she could no longer work in the state’s public schools after she “refused to sign an oath vowing that she ‘does not’ and ‘will not’ engage in a boycott of Israel or ‘otherwise take any action that is intended to inflict economic harm [on Israel]’.”

The clause was inserted into Amawi’s contract after state legislators in Texas enacted a law in May 2017 prohibiting state agencies from signing contracts with companies that boycott Israel. Other states which have adopted such legislation include Illinois, the State of New York, California, and Florida. A further 13 states have anti-BDS legislation pending, including Massachusetts, Virginia, and Washington.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

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