Palestinian-American author to speak at Evanston Public Library - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Palestinian-American author to speak at Evanston Public Library

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - The Evanston Public Library will be hosting a reading by a Palestinian-American author on Monday, August 11. It’s an appearance that the author said was canceled until mounting criticism forced the library to back down.

“We mishandled the rescheduling of this, there’s no doubt in my mind that we should have done a better job,” said Library Director Karen Danczak Lyons.

Lyons admitted her staff screwed up by inviting Palestinian-American Author Ali Abunimah to speak without including other speakers, as part of a library program.

The Chicagoan author's newest book is ‘The Battle for Justice in Palestine.’ Abunimah was informed over the weekend that his August 11 appearance was being rescheduled, because a pro-Israel speaker was not part of the program.

“Why couldn't I just come and speak, and when they get another speaker, that speaker can come. I think that there's still a lot of fear in this country and at many institutions about talking freely about Palestine and Israel. And having Palestinians come and speak,” Abunimah said.

The library director said she's always been enthusiastic about Abunimah appearing at the library, but that she wants such programs to include a number of speakers.

“I don’t think it's censorship to say this is important, your voice is important, we need it to be part of a greater discussion. I wouldn't have been excited or agreed to cosponsor this program if I wanted to censor it. We certainly wouldn't have arranged with a local bookseller to sell copies of his book if we wanted to censor it,” Lyons said.

Lyons now said that Abunimah will be appearing, as originally planned. He believes the library had second thoughts after the issue blew up on social media.

“I got messages from people all over the country who had sent emails to Ms. Lyons and Evanston Public Library and they sent copies to me expressing their outrage at the original decision to cancel it,” Abunimah added.

The library's director said there will be additional speakers, either on the night that Abunimah appears or at later events, and they won't necessarily be pro-Israel speakers; just individuals who can help add some context to the issues being discussed.

Tuesday, Neighbors for Peace/Evanston are holding a press conference to discuss the culture on Palestine in the United States following the library’s decision to allow Ali Abunimah to speak at the library.

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