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Monday, Mar. 04, 2002 at 2:22 PM
This is the letter of "support" for IMC Switzerland written by Urbana-Champaign IMC.
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We, the Urbana-Champaign IMC, support IMC Switzerland in its mission of providing an open and independent channel of public communication. We are saddened that IMC Switzerland is currently offline as a consequence of the legal action by Aktion Kinder der Holocaust. We pledge our solidarity and support.
This controversy pits two important but irreconcilable principles against each other: on one hand, unfettered, uncensored free speech; on the other, the repudiation of racist and antisemitic rhetoric. The Urbana-Champaign IMC has also found itself caught between these two principles in the past, and we recognize the significant moral and ethical quandary IMC Switzerland finds itself in.
The cartoon panel at the heart of the controversy is part of a series critical of Israeli policy toward the Palestinians. It bears repeating that it is not the pro-Palestinian stance which is at question here. It is only the final panel, which by implication equated the Israelis with the Nazis, which triggered the ADKH protest.
We do not accuse the cartoonist Latuff of antisemitism, although we believe that he had not fully considered the moral implications of the cartoon panel at the time of its posting, and we believe he has not yet shown any real understanding of the core complaint against him. He boasts of "having struck a nerve"; he has, but not the one he thinks.
In particular, we must explicitly reject as repugnant the rhetorical device of equating Israeli policy with Nazism, a hyperbolic comparison that is at best tasteless, deeply offensive to most Jews and Germans, and historically untenable. The Nazi "Final Solution" killed nearly one third of the world's Jewish population within half a dozen years; the AKDH is not wrong to assert that such ground should be tread lightly. We accept that their motivation comes not from a desire to stifle criticism of Israel, as has been alleged, but as a genuine cri de coeur.
Nevertheless, the mission of the IMC movement requires that free speech must prevail. IMC Switzerland exercised sound moral judgement in deprecating but not removing the cartoon. We feel that this is a perfectly acceptable solution.
We call upon the AKDH in friendship to reconsider their suit against IMC Switzerland. Proceeding against the IMC would be, we strongly believe, ineffective or even counterproductive. The Latuff panel is, ultimately, too insignificant to merit the closing of IMC Switzerland. Given its international nature, the Internet cannot be purged of all expressions of antisemitism -- or any other type of insanity. But the Internet also allows for new opportunities for education and bridge-building, and we find it more productive to concentrate our energies there.
We send all our best wishes to IMC Switzerland in hopes that their site will soon rejoin IMCs throughout the world, giving voice to the voiceless.
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