Synagogue, bookstore, meet about controversial book

New York bookstore, synagogue, discuss anti-Israel children's book 'P is for Palestine,' Book Culture regrets 'misunderstanding content.'

Arutz Sheva Staff,

Bookstore (illustrative)
Bookstore (illustrative)
iStock

A New York bookstore and a local synagogue arrived at a mutual understanding after meeting earlier this week, the West Side Rag reported.

Stephen Wise Free Synagogue's (SWFS) three rabbis sat with the co-owners of Book Culture discussed the anti-Israel children's book "P is for Palestine," as well as the synagogue's book fair, which hosted Book Culture.

"P is for Palestine" goes through the entire alphabet, associating each letter with "Palestinian" culture. A, for example, is for "Arabic," while "I" is for "Intifada, Arabic for rising up for what is right, if you are a kid or grownup!" It does not contain anything about Israel.

The book's author, Golbarg Bashi, works as a Pace history professor and is a former Rutgers instructor on Iranian studies. She raised $15,000 through a crowdfunding campaign in order to publish her book.

In a statement, Book Culture said, "We regret that we did not fully appreciate the political or communal ramifications of the children’s book 'P is for Palestine' by Dr. Golbarg Bashi, nor did we anticipate the pain and distress it has caused in our community. We now understand these much better."

"We oppose terrorism or other forms of violence perpetrated against Israeli civilians during the intifada or thereafter. Any impression from the book to the contrary is not our view. We support Israel’s right to exist. We do not endorse the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS)."

In an interview with the West Side Rag, Book Culture co-owner Chris Doeblin said, "We issued a statement that we already believed in but had not made clear. We believe in Israel’s right to exist as a nation and we are opposed to terrorism and violence of any kind. We do not support divestment from Israel, which is something the author has been associated with."

Doeblin also said that his conversation with SWFS' rabbis led him to understand that "the intifada was nothing but an extremely horrible murderous event with Palestinians directing violence towards the most innocent Jewish people and Israelis they could find including women, children and those in hospitals."

However, he said, "We are not going to remove the book from our shelves but want to make clear that we do not support terrorism and violence against Israel and we do not support divestment from Israel."

SWFS' Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch told the West Side Rag that "it was important to me to counter the authors suggestion that the Palestinian national movement is peaceful and I am glad that Book Cultures’ owners agree. That is substantial progress from our perspective."


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