A New Jersey public library has postponed a talk by the author of “P is for Palestine” after local community members objected.
Golbarg Bashi, author of the children’s book promoting Palestinian nationalism, was scheduled to appear May 18 at the Highland Park Public Library. Following complaints by members of the Central Jersey town’s Jewish community that the book promotes violence, the library issued a statement saying the matter had been referred to the library’s board of trustees, which “will take it up at its next regularly scheduled meeting” on May 20.
“In the meantime, the program has been removed from the schedule, pending the Board’s final decision,” according to the statement, which was first reported by The Jewish Link.
In 2017, the alphabet book by Bashi, an Iranian-born instructor of Middle Eastern history at nearby Rutgers University, sparked controversy when it was offered for sale at a popular book store on New York’s Upper West Side. A nearby Reform synagogue objected especially to a two-page spread featuring the letter I, which states “I is for Intifada, Intifada is Arabic for rising up for what is right, if you are a kid or a grownup!”
Critics said the page glorified the violence that characterized the two separate Palestinian “uprisings” of the late 1980s and early 2000s. Bashi, however, said “intifada” encompasses a broader and largely nonviolent Palestinian cultural resistance.
Highland Park resident Josh Pruzansky, a fundraising professional who formerly served as regional director of the Orthodox Union’s Advocacy Center, described Highland Park as a community that is proud of its diversity and tolerance.
“Nobody is advocating against the inclusion of any religion in our library. We are advocating against violence, which the intifada is all about,” he told The Jewish Link.