A letter to Morgan Freeman
A letter to Morgan Freeman from the Dorothy Cotton Institute 2012 Civil And Human Rights Delegation to the West Bank
Dear Mr. Freeman,
We are writing to you as members of a historic delegation of 23 leaders from the nonviolent U.S. civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, younger civil rights and human rights leaders, peace advocates, and educators who traveled to East Jerusalem and the West Bank in October last year, to meet with leaders of the Palestinian nonviolent resistance movement and their Israeli allies. During our trip, we witnessed for ourselves the injustice and violence of the Israeli occupation, and the suffering inflicted on the Palestinians, in violation of international law and U.N. resolutions. For many of us, the systemic discrimination on the West Bank reminded us of the Jim Crow South.
Our experience on the West Bank compels us to join with so many others who have urged you to decline the Key of Knowledge Award from the Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University for your work in “combating segregation and prejudice, and promoting knowledge and education throughout the world.” We honor your work in combating segregation and prejudice and it is precisely because of this work that we urge you to decline this award. By accepting the award you will implicitly legitimate Israel’s continued policies of oppression and discrimination on the West Bank.
During our trip we met countless courageous Palestinian nonviolent activists and their Israeli allies who are putting their very lives on the line in the struggle for basic human rights. These folk welcomed us into their homes and villages and shared their story with us. They inspired us and they asked us to do all we can to bring pressure to bear on Israel to end their policies.
By declining the award you would be adding your voice to those of Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu who have consistently stood in solidarity with the struggle of the Palestinians for justice and human rights. You would also be joining Stevie Wonder who declined to sing at a fundraising gala for the Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces last year.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” An end to Israel’s 45-year occupation of the West Bank matters. Equality, security and human rights for everyone matters. The future of the children of Israel and Palestine matters.
By declining this award you have the opportunity to say that all this matters.
We trust that you will carefully consider this request and we hope that you will decide not to be silent. We who have seen with our own eyes cannot be silent, and we hope that you will use this opportunity to make your own statement in support of justice and dignity.
The Dorothy Cotton Institute 2012 Civil and Human Rights Delegation:
- donnie i. betts, Filmmaker, Denver, CO
- Rabbi Joseph Berman, Chair, Boston Chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, Boston, MA
- Laura Ward Branca, Senior Fellow, Dorothy Cotton Institute, Ithaca, NY
- Prof. Clayborne Carson, Director, Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA
- Dorothy Cotton, Associate and colleague of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a member of his executive staff, and Education Director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Distinguished Fellow, Dorothy Cotton Institute, Ithaca, NY
- The Rev. Richard L. Deats, Ph.D. Editor Emeritus, FELLOWSHIP magazine, Nyack, NY
- Kirby Edmonds, Coordinator, Dorothy Cotton Institute, Ithaca, NY
- Jeff Furman, National Advisor, Dorothy Cotton Institute, Ithaca, NY
- Prof. Alan Gilbert, University of Denver, Denver, CO
- Dr. Vincent Harding, Historian, Activist, Friend and Colleague of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Denver, CO
- Prof. Robert. L. Harris, Jr., Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
- Sara Hess, Ithaca, NY
- Margo H. Hittleman, Senior Fellow, Dorothy Cotton Institute, Ithaca, NY
- Rev. Lucas Johnson, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Atlanta, GA
- Aljosie A. Knight, Activist, Ackworth, GA
- The Rev. Carolyn McKinstry, Civil Rights activist and author of “While the World Watched: A Birmingham Bombing Survivor Comes of Age during the Civil Rights Movement” Birmingham, AL
- Dr. Marne O’Shae, Ithaca, NY
- The Rev. Dr. Allie Perry, Board Member, Interfaith Peace-Builders, New Haven, CT
- Dr. Paula M. Rayman, University of Massachusetts, Lowell, Watertown, MA
- Dr. Alice Rothchild, American Jews for a Just Peace, Cambridge, MA
- The Rev. Osagyefo Sekou, Freeman Fellow, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Boston, MA
- Dr. James Turner, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
- Rabbi Brian Walt, Palestinian/Israeli Nonviolence Project Fellow, Dorothy Cotton Institute, Ithaca, NY
[Photo: David Sifry, Flickr/ Wikimedia Commons.]
Ways to take action — sign the following petitions:
- “Tell Morgan Freeman: Don’t Glorify Israeli Apartheid!” (U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation via Salsa.org)
- “Morgan Freeman: Refuse the Keys of Apartheid Israel” (Don’t Play Apartheid Israel via Change.org)
- “Morgan Freeman, Don’t Glorify Israeli Apartheid” (Angelika Roll via Care2.com)