Israel Lobby Criminalizes Children’s Books
A few years ago, Iranian author and Rutgers faculty member, Golbarg Bashi, published a children’s alphabet book, P is for Palestine (now out of print). It is an abecedary for children, teaching them words associated with the Palestinian struggle for justice and national rights. Somehow the book has become a cause celebre for the pro-Israel community in the New York metropolitan area. A prominent local rabbi declared the book a travesty and threatened to evict a Manhattan bookstore selling it from the synagogue’s annual book fair. The bookstore caved to pressure and released a statement saying it opposed the book’s content, but continued selling it, hiding it behind the counter as if it was a banned substance.
Then a few months ago, Bashi scheduled another book reading at the Highland Park (NJ) public library. Once again, the Israel Lobby voiced its anger and the Library canceled the event. That’s when Palestine Legal got involved and negotiated an agreement with the Library to reschedule the event to a later date. That was yesterday. To attend the event, one had to call the library to make a reservation. In order to avoid pickets there, both the author and the attendees were forced to enter by the back entrance. These knuckleheads have turned our public libraries into battlegrounds just as anti-abortion campaigners turned clinics into war zones in their battle against a woman’s right to choose.
In the lead-up to the event, two New Jersey pro-Israel groups filed a lawfare suit against both the Library and the town council claiming that they violated federal law by aiding and abetting terrorism:
The…Central Jersey Jewish Public Affairs Committee (CJJPAC)—a pro-Israel advocacy organization…in concert with Zachor Legal Institute, an anti-BDS legal think tank—is launching action against both the borough of Highland Park, N,J., and its library.
…The Zachor Legal Institute, wrote to the Mayor…and president of the Library Board…informing them that the town “appears to be in violation of federal law, including the anti-discrimination provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the federal RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) prohibition on providing material support to designated foreign terror organizations.”
…“We understand a number of groups affiliated with the BDS movement have coerced the library into allowing the use of library facilities to spread hate-filled propaganda to children…
We agree with the Lawfare Project that, based on First Amendment law, the library can and should prohibit the reading of a book to children that legitimizes violence.
…The [legal] action will support the removal of federal funding and seeks federal government censure for a town taking federal funds used to promote anti-Semitism. “The nature of the book reading and its propagating of anti-Semitism towards Jews in Israel are believed to meet the definition of anti-Semitism as used by the State Department and the Department of Education.
…Two of the primary promoters of the reading, Samidoun and Jewish Voice for Peace, have ties to organizations that are discriminatory and provide support to terror organizations. Consequently…the reading constitutes a violation of the anti-discrimination provisions of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VI”), as well as a potential violation of 18 U.S.C. 2339B (the “Material Support Statute”)…
Needless to say, all of these charges are a pack of lies. Virtually every sentence is a lie, and in some sentences there are multiple lies. The claims will be laughed out of court if these groups dare to bring an actual lawsuit. But that is not the real goal. These shysters know they cannot win. But they can browbeat and hector public bodies like towns and libraries into cutting off the Palestinian community from access to public venues. They can seek to ostracize points of view critical of Israel by transforming them magically into advocacy of terrorism and anti-Semitism.
Now the Town and library face tens, if not hundreds of thousands in legal fees defending themselves from pro-Israel holy-rollers who have nothing better to do with their lives than squelch speech and literature which expresses pride and dignity in the culture and traditions of Palestine.
There are many atrocious things that Israel has done to the Palestinian people. Among them, they’ve criminalized childhood, culture, national identity and language. Now, their foot soldiers in the Diaspora want to criminalize children’s books which express pride in Palestinian identity.
Jews Should Know Better
This reminds me of another tragic episode in the long Jewish tradition of suffering. The Romans too sought to ban a book which threatened the conquerors of Judea, because it taught Jews pride in their culture, identity and traditions. They banned the book and banned its teaching. Anyone caught doing so would be put to death.
The book was the Torah. And one of the rabbis who was executed by the Romans for braving their edict was Rabbi Hanina Ben Tradyon, as portrayed in the Martyrology recited on Yom Kippur:
Rabbi Hanina…also chose to teach Torah in public in spite of the decree, holding a Sefer Torah in his arms. After his capture, they wrapped him in a Sefer Torah and piled branches about him, lit them, and placed wet wool over his heart so that he would not die quickly. He told his disciples what he saw: “The parchment is burning but the letters are flying free!”
Books have always been viewed as seditious by conquerors and tyrants. Those who write and teach books have often been targeted for offending the powerful. But somehow the book haters always lose and the books themselves live on despite attempts to suppress them. Even those who choose to burn books cannot prevent the letters from flying free and conveying their message of freedom and justice to the rest of the world.
9 thoughts on “Israel Lobby Criminalizes Children’s Books – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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Did you just compare ‘P for Palestine’ to the Bible?
I understand your liking of a good analogy but do you really not see the difference?
No, YOU did.
A good rule of thumb for hasbarists like you is not to summarize my views, paraphrase them or characterize them on my behalf at all. You will invariably be wrong, as you are in this case. And your bad faith in doing so annoys me.
You are done in this thread.
Mr. Richard Silverstein,
The Lobby’s ‘lawfare’ here, is not less obnoxious then then book publisher’s attempt to politically indoctrinate pre-school kids.
“Hey teachers, leave those kids alone”–Pink Floyd
Doctor: ah so we have a Kenyan Christian Zionist. Aren’t you a bit outside your wheelhouse, Doc ?
A book author reading a children’s book to children is “indoctrination?”
Are you daft?
And whatever you do, do not EVER quote Roger Waters’ lyrics to support Israeli apartheid. That is far beyond the Pale.
Off topic? YouTube account Center for Near East Policy suspended
Excuse for faulty link!
Link corrected: Israeli NGO channel suspended
@Richard, wow. Just when you think that the pro-Israel lobby and the hasbarists couldn’t get more petty and venomous when it comes to anyone speaking up for the Palestinians in any way, shape or form. Barring the usual slander, demonization, and attacks on Palestinians and Arabs, the vitriol targeting groups like Jewish Voices for Peace or IfNotNow is also particularly reprehensible.
Mr. Richard Silverstein,
I am not a Christian Zionist, I am proud Igbo Jew.
This book is indoctrination.
“I is for Intifada, Intifada is Arabic for rising up for what is right, if you’re a kid or a grownup!” with an image of barbed wire, and “M is for Miftah, Key of Return, Mama’s Mama and My Jiddah’s mama’s for which I yearn!”
The husband of the author is full of hate.
“Bashi’s husband, Hamid Dabashi, also a Columbia professor, has also recently been accused of posting anti-Semitic comments on Facebook about Jared Kushner.
Dabashi referred to “Jared Kushner’s Zionist kins [sic]” who “kill and rob Palestinians,” and described the Jewish White House adviser as a “creature.”
Columbia University President Lee Bollinger distanced himself from Dabashi’s views in a statement, saying, “I want to completely disassociate myself from those ideas. They’re outrageous things to say, in my view.”
@ Doctor: I don’t care whether you’re the chief rabbi. YOu’re a cheap propagandist.
Hamid Dabashi is a distinguished historian at Columbia University. His work is published in mainstream publications including the NY Times. I could care less what Lee Bollinger thinks. He runs the University’s fundraising operation and must cater to rich pro-Israel Jews. He has to say that.
Jared Kushner is a spoiled rich kid brat suckled on the milk of Palestine hate. He’s given tens of thousands of dollars to settlements. He is a “creature.” I’m a Jew. I can say that. If I can, Hamid Dabashi can. So sue me!
BTW, there’s nothing anti-Semitic about a refugee expelled from her land wanting to return. Nor is there anything wrong for rising up for what is right, including the right of return. Again, I’m a Jew. I support the right of return. THere is no reason Goldbarg Dabashi can’t support it too. So sue me twice!
You are done in this thread. Do NOT publish another comment in it.