The BCRI announced in October that it was celebrating Davis, who grew up on Dynamite Hill and went on to become an activist and revolutionary whose influence spanned generations. Yet late last month, in the wake of an essay written by Larry Brooks, editor of Southern Jewish Lifethat noted her support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS) against Israel and other efforts that sparked discomfort in Birmingham’s Jewish community.
“The rescinding of this invitation was thus not primarily an attack against me but rather against the spirit of the indivisibility of justice.
“I support Palestinian political prisoners just as I support current political prisoners in the Basque Country, in Catalunya, in India, and in other parts of the world. I have indeed expressed opposition to policies and practices of the state of Israel, as I express similar opposition to U.S. support for the Israeli occupation of Palestine and to other discriminatory U.S. policies.”
Previous Shuttlesworth Award recipients have also been critical of Israel, including actor Danny Glover and actor/activist Harry Belafonte.
“Through my experiences at Elizabeth Irwin High School in New York City and at Brandeis University in the late fifties and early sixties, and my subsequent time in graduate school in Frankfurt, Germany,” she said, “I learned to be as passionate about opposition to antisemitism as to racism.
“It was during this period that I was also introduced to the Palestinian cause. I am proud to have worked closely with Jewish organizations and individuals on issues of concern to all of our communities throughout my life. In many ways, this work has been integral to my growing consciousness regarding the importance of protesting the Israeli occupation of Palestine.”
“I have indeed expressed opposition to policies and practices of the state of Israel, as I express similar opposition to U.S. support for the Israeli occupation of Palestine.”