A report by the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) drew attention to a library system in Philadelphia that was criticized by members of the Jewish community over what they said was an attempt to turn children and parents against Israel using heavily biased Pro-Palestinian books, videos and resource links.

The library system has subsequently promised to make changes to remedy the situation.

ZOA stated that their investigation into the concerns found “disturbing” content on the website of the Free Library of Philadelphia – one of America’s largest public library systems.

ZOA Philadelphia executive director Steve Feldman found that the 55 branches of the library system had their own Facebook pages where librarians would post book suggestions for children and their parents or caretakers.

“I started looking, and I kept finding more and more disturbing content that was first of all directed at young people – children, middle-school age or maybe even younger frankly – and that it was all of an anti-Jewish, anti-Zionist nature,” said Feldman. “There seemed to be a campaign going on to indoctrinate young Philadelphians, or whoever else uses the websites in the library or the branches of the library, to indoctrinate young people and their parents to be anti-Zionist, anti-Jewish, anti-Israel.”

Feldman questioned whether there was a “deliberate effort to delegitimize Jewish self-determination and even dehumanize the Jewish people to young Philadelphians, particularly of other minority groups.”

He added: “Out of all of the conflicts in the world, all the situations in the world, why have there been multiple programs and activities focusing on Israel and the Palestinian Arabs, and not, for example, what’s going on in China, Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela, or any places where there actually are human rights violations?”

Feldman called it a “deliberate, one-sided campaign” that was “all based on lies.”

“The librarian in a couple of those videos comes off like a female Mr. Rogers, which intensifies the impact of the propaganda that she is delivering,” said Feldman. “Why isn’t she the following week promoting a book about Zionism or about Israel or about the Jewish longing to return to [the Jewish] homeland? About what it’s like to be a young person with rockets, thousands and thousands of rockets fired at you frequently? Nothing like that is there.”

The ZOA noted that one, and possibly two, of the librarians involved in the criticized programming were signatures to an open letter titled “Statement in Solidarity with Palestinian Liberation: An Open Letter from Members of the Children’s Book Industry.”

The open letter accused Israelis of “lynching” Palestinians with “protection and participation of Israeli police,” along with genocide, ethnic cleansing, stealing land and targeting children.

“You’re also talking about a government agency,” Feldman said. “You know, who would think that a public library would be trying to indoctrinate young people to hate another people? It would be the furthest thing that anybody would think of. A library is regarded as a safe space – maybe one of the safest spaces. If you’re going to sit your kid down in front of a website to watch videos, who would suspect anything untoward at the library?”

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