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Highland Park, NJ - NJ Library Cancels Hearing Over Plan For Public Reading Of ‘P Is For Palestine’

Published on: June 6, 2019 07:57 AM
By: JTA
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The cover of "P is For Palestine." (Courtesy of Golbarg Bashi)The cover of "P is For Palestine." (Courtesy of Golbarg Bashi)

Highland Park, NJ - The public library in Highland Park, N.J. cancelled a scheduled hearing on whether to hold a public reading of the children’s book “P is for Palestine,” over concerns about citizen safety and crowd control.

The meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Highland Park Public Library had been scheduled for Wednesday. The decision to cancel the meeting was made in consultation with the city’s mayor and police chief, the library said in a cancellation notice on its website.

The statement described the next steps that the library plans to take since “there is no time in the foreseeable future when those (safety) conditions are likely to change.”

The library announced that it would reschedule the talk and reading by “P is for Palestine” author Dr. Golbarg Bashi, and schedule a similar program around the book “I is for Israel,” by Gili Bar-Hillel and Prodeepta Das.

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A reading by Bashi scheduled for mid-May had previously been postponed by the library.

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 violent resistance 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.



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 Jun 06, 2019 at 11:24 AM Cixelsyd_Wnosanoy Says:

What is not portrayed here is the impact on local law enforcement...though cancelled, the threat level remained heightened, and yesterday evening a large number of law enforcement officers from several departments were deployed for hours to the site of the cancelled meeting.

It would have been appropriate to plan a dignified protest at the Library on the day of the reading...perhaps with blow ups of front page headlines and photos of bus and hotel bombings, and other “intifada” atrocities. But the decision to publicly resist a reading of the book was a terrible mistake, both tactically and strategically.

The story was carried in national press both here (e.g., ABC and Fox) and in Israel (Haaretz), and was all over social media. The community's , my community's decision to fight the reading has made us a national, if not international, target for all matter of pro-Palestinian activists...and put it on the wrong side of a long-settled censorship issue.

More frustrating, taking into account the strength of BDS activism at close by Rutgers University, I believe with moral certainty that this was predictable and even inevitable. And the reading will be held anyway.

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