Open Letter to the Trustees of Highland Park Library

Updated: Jul 30, 2019

Background

A library in Highland Park, NJ has scheduled a reading of the children's book "P Is for Palestine." Many local residents and members of Jewish community objected and the library postponed the reading pending the decision of the board of trustees.

The library's Board is meeting on Wednesday, June 5 @ 7:30 Highland Park Community Center (220 S 6th Avenue, Highland Park, NJ) to discuss if the reading can take place,


The Open Letter

May 29, 2019


Dear Board of Trustees of the Highland Park Library:


I am writing to you regarding your pending decision about the reading of, "P Is for Palestine" by Golbarg Bashi. I want to urge you to abandon the plans for the reading and stocking this book in your library.


Dr. Melissa Landa wrote an excellent Times of Israel article about this book called "'P is for Palestine' is not for children" that you may want to read.


Perhaps you are not aware of the divisive history of this biased piece of anti-Israel propaganda masqueraded as a children's alphabet book. The book was originally features in a store in NYC called "Book Culture." It created a furor in the neighborhood with many Jewish families objecting to the book that glorifies Intifada, among other problematic aspects. The rift regarding this book caused a shutdown of the popular discussion group for mothers on the Upper East Side and caused protests on the Upper West Side.


Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch of Stephen Wise Free Synagogue--a major temple on the Upper West Side--demanded that the book store publicly rescind their support for the book. You would do well to follow his example.


After the bookstore apologized to Rabbi Hirsch, it was ironically boycotted by the anti-Israel brigade. I had written an article about it called "B Is for Boycott" that was published in The Algemeiner.


Subsequently the author, Goldbarg Bashi (whose husband Hamid Dabashi is one of the most virulent anti-Israel professors at Columbia University) appeared last October in a crazed state at the Columbia University demonstration in support of pro-Israel students, yelling at us that Jews prevented her book from becoming a best-seller (see photos below).


Finally, it is not an issue of "freedom of speech." Young children cannot form proper well-informed opinions by themselves and require adult supervision to protect them from baised ideas and one-sided propaganda.


In summary, the author of the book is virulently anti-Israel and the book is nothing but propaganda and trouble. I am counting on you to make the right decision for your community.


Please feel free to contact me for any additional information.


Kindest regards,



Victor Muslin

Founder of CU-Monitor - a website tracking antisemitic activity in academia,

Advisory Board Member of Alliance for Israel,

Leader of Columbia University Chapter of Alums for Campus Fairness (a StandWithUs organization).


P.S. I urge you to look at the comments under the unrelated posts (for example onetwo) on your library's Facebook page and see the virulently anti-Israel and antisemitic comments that even the consideration of this book is bringing out already.


Further Updates


This section provides updates to this developing story.


May 30, 2019

It has just come to my attention that according to a report in the Jewish Link of New Jersey, the reading of "P Is for Palestine" at the Highland Park Public Library was organized by the Central New Jersey chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace. JVP is a "radical anti-Israel activist group that advocates for a complete economic, cultural and academic boycott of the state of Israel" according to ADL.


June 4, 2019

It has been reported that the instigators behind this book reading are the Central New Jersey chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP). In the latest developments, Palestine Legal has been threatening a lawsuit against the library should the reading of this book is cancelled.


June 5, 2019

Gayle Brill Mittler, the mayor of Highland Park has cancelled the meeting and decided that the book reading will proceed. Dov Hikind recorded a video about this cowardly action.


According to Haaretz article ", the library claims that the public comment was cancelled due to the "fear of unrest."


The action of the mayor raises more questions than it resolves. For example, the article states, "[The] library canceled a hearing scheduled for Wednesday on whether it should host a public reading of the children’s book “P is for Palestine,” citing citizen safety and crowd control concerns... after rival groups of pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian activists vowed to demonstrate outside the Highland Park Public Library during Wednesday evening’s meeting, sparking fears of clashes and unrest after weeks of online spats between the groups." If so, would the mayor not expect that the protests will continue and the same concerns apply to the day of the reading? And if so, by this logic, wouldn't then it make even more sense to cancel the reading?

...the author said it was important for her to include 'Intifada in the Palestinian context. "Palestinians have for 71 years resisted peacefully, beautifully, [with] dance..." -- Goldbarg Bashi

Regarding the most controversial part of the book, the article gives the following explanation by Golbarg Bashi: "In a Facebook Live video Bashi posted about the controversy prior to Wednesday's decision, the author said it was important for her to include 'Intifada in the Palestinian context.' 'Palestinians have for 71 years resisted peacefully, beautifully, [with] dance, [by] calling themselves Palestinian, telling their children the stories,' she said, making no mention of the violent uprisings. 'How could I possibly not include that?'" This laughable explanation does not even pass the smell test.


The fact that the reading is promoted by Jewish Voice for Peace, is evidence enough that this is anti-Israel indoctrination for children.


Press Coverage

  1. "Public Library Event for ‘P Is for Palestine’ Author Sparks Outrage in Highland Park" by Rochelle Kipnis, Jewish Link of New Jersey, May 9, 2019

  2. "Amid ‘P Is For Palestine’ Uproar, Highland Park Library Trustees Delay Meeting" by Elizabeth Kratz and Rochelle Kipnis, Jewish Link of New Jersey, May 16, 2019

  3. "Central NJ’s Chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace Identified as ‘P Is for Palestine’ Event Organizer" by Elizabeth Kratz, Jewish Link of New Jersey, May 17, 2019

  4. "‘P is for Palestine’ is not for children" by Melissa Landa, Times of Israel, May 29, 2019

  5. "Jewish Groups Set to Protest Reading of Children's Book 'P Is for Palestine' at New Jersey Library" by Danielle Ziri, Haaretz, June 4, 2019

  6. "Highland Park library’s ‘P Is for Palestine’ controversy ends with closed-door compromise" by Elizabeth Kratz, JNS, June 5, 2019

  7. "Success! NJ Library Reinstates Palestine Children's Book Event" Palestinian Legal press release, June 5, 2019

  8. Video by Dov Hikind, June 5, 2019

Photos


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